Former Missionary Dead at 83

Fr. "Sonny" Rizzo served in the Brazilian jungle for 30 years.


Fr. Angelo “Sonny” Rizzo, age 83, a former missionary and Needham resident, died suddenly on Sunday morning, October 14, at his Natick home.

He was the beloved son of the late John and Mary (Ferrara) Rizzo. Born in Boston on January 23, 1929, Sonny was raised in Needham and was a graduate of Boston College High School. He then entered the Stigmatine Fathers’ Seminary in Wellesley and studied both there and in Rome for the next several years. He was ordained in Rome in 1956, and shortly thereafter left for Sao Paolo, Brazil.

Father Angelo devoted more than thirty years to the Stigmatine missions in Brazil. He and his fellow religious traveled through the jungles of Brazil, arriving at villages to perform several marriages and baptisms before moving on to the next destination. There route was so large and difficult, they rarely got to a village more than once a year. Frequently ill from the many diseases indigenous to the jungles, Father Angelo was released from the order and returned to Needham in the late 1980’s.

A licensed psychologist with the Commonwealth, Father Angelo specialized in group therapy in Needham and Natick for many years. He is remembered as a kind and very generous man.

He is survived by two brothers, Charlie Rizzo and his wife Dorothea of Falmouth, and Joseph Rizzo of Needham; six nieces; two nephews; three six grandnieces and nephews, one great-grandnephew; two cousins, Josie Kokoros-Morgan and Ann MacPherson and their families; and his close friends, Maria Laina, Fabiola Lovo, and Sondra Padow.

His funeral service will be held in the John Everett & Sons Funeral Home on Friday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. Friends may visit with the family beginning at 11:30 a.m. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to the Carroll School for the Blind, 770 Centre Street, Newton, MA 02458.


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