WASHINGTON — Pope Francis has appointed Father Italo Dell’Oro, vicar for clergy of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, as an auxiliary bishop for the Texas archdiocese.
Bishop-designate Dell’Oro, 67, is a priest of the Congregation of Somascon Fathers. Born in Italy, he came to the United States in 1985 to work in New Hampshire at a school run by his religious congregation.
In 1992, he was transferred to the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, where he has been vicar of clergy since 2015. He also is episcopal vicar for marriage affairs.
The appointment was announced May 18 in Washington by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio.
Plans for the bishop-designate’s episcopal ordination were being finalized.
Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston said Bishop-designate Dell’Oro, during his many years in the archdiocese, “has been a genuine, pastoral presence to the many people and cultures of our great region, along with being a mindful ambassador to the wonderful religious orders and communities in the area.”
Dell’Oro has been a priest for almost 40 years, 30 of those in the archdiocese. He was named vicar general in 2021. As vicar for clergy, he also is director of the Secretariat for Clergy Formation and Chaplaincy Services.
When then-Father Dell’Oro first arrived in Galveston-Houston in 1992, his initial assignment was as pastor of Assumption Church in Houston.
Growing up in Valmadrera, Italy, the Somascan priest was an avid rock climber and mountaineer during his teen years in the pristine countryside of Lake Como, Italy. He wasn’t familiar with topography of the Bayou City, as Houston is known, when he arrived.
“When I came to Houston, I started looking for mountains, excited to have found near Assumption Church the street named ‘W. Mount Houston,'” he said. “I followed it and found myself in the subdivision Hidden Valley. So I took up jogging, which I still try to do.”
In 2001, he served as director of vocations for the Somascan Fathers in Houston before being named the congregation’s formation director in 2014. From 2005 to 2012, he also worked as director of ministry to priests for the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese.
Born June 20, 1953, in Malgrate, near Lecco, Italy, he entered the Somascan Novitiate and Theologate in Rome and made his first religious profession in 1978; he made his final profession in 1981. He was ordained a priest in Como, Italy, Sept. 11, 1982.
He earned a bachelor of sacred theology in 1982 from Pontifical University of Sant’Anselmo in Rome. In 1988, he received a master of arts degree in counseling and psychotherapy from Catholic-run Rivier University in Nashua, New Hampshire. He speaks English, Italian and Spanish.
In reflecting on his call to the priesthood, he said: “Although I always felt some sort of attraction to it, as I had for other career options, it was at 15 that the possibility of being ‘called’ dawned on me.
“A few young men in my home parish left home to enter the seminary, and that impacted me. However, I went on building my life until at 21 and 22, the ‘vocational restlessness’ grew to an unbearable level. I had to do something.”
Somasca, the place where St. Jerome Emiliani organized the first community of followers of the Somascan Order, is a located approximately six miles from Dell’Oro’s hometown.
“Somasca is a place of pilgrimage, to which devotees to the saint come from the surrounding area — the most famous being the little boy Giuseppe Roncalli, now St. John XXIII,” he said. “I would bike with my cousins to Somasca … but I didn’t know about the Somascans as a boy.”
“During my discernment, however, a very good friend of mine, one of those who had left home years earlier,” he said, “became very persistent in telling me that I needed to make a decision about my vocation. He was with the Somascan Fathers. Well, in the end I knocked at that door and it opened.”