To understand Bishop Anthony Bosco, one of his closest friends told 900 mourners in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, study the statue of the Good Shepherd that he commissioned for the Catholic Diocese of Greensburg in 2001.
It depicts Jesus cradling a lamb as he confronts a wolf, not with violence, but compassion, said Monsignor Roger Statnick, a top aide during his 1987-2004 tenure as bishop of Greensburg.
He faced "wolf-like threats that the times bring to the faith, not to kill the wolf -- after all it too is a creature of God -- but to tame it," Monsignor Statnick said. "Bishop Bosco's legacy is not about what he did and said, but what God did and said through his leadership in the church. This shepherd did indeed lead, but he did so by sharing the journey, walking with the flock, guiding and directing from within, and often in a more casual, indirect and personal way."
Bishop Bosco, who still taught theology online for the University of Dayton, was 85 when he died unexpectedly July 2. In 1988, he had received national attention as co-author of a bishops' statement on AIDS. The former journalist for Vatican Radio labored to help the church communicate more effectively via broadcast and the Internet. He reformed church structures to give the laity more influence, though some of his flock never forgave him for merging parishes as the population and priestly ranks declined.
"Bishop Bosco rarely sought the limelight. In fact, he was often uncomfortable in that spot," Monsignor Statnick said.
"Instead he sought the light within each human heart searching for its God. ... He teased out this light with his humor, and he focused it with his wit, a wit that often held a gleam of wisdom."
He died in his Unity home, watching a Pirates game with his beloved West Highland white terrier Joshua II, who was his constant companion.
Nat Pantalone, the funeral director, was called to the home of his good friend, who had led Mr. Pantalone's wife into the church. He found Joshua barking in distress.
"But when Bishop [Lawrence] Brandt came, as soon as he began to pray, Joshua stopped barking," Mr. Pantalone said of Bishop Bosco's successor in Greensburg,
This was a service at which the funeral director was also a mourner. "He was funny, well-educated, well-rounded. You could talk to him about anything," he said.
The bishop's body lay in state for two days before Wednesday's funeral, with more than 1,000 people paying their respects. His face bore the faint trace of a smile, hinting at his customary broad grin. Shortly before the Mass, his casket was closed and covered with a pall and stole.
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia was the main celebrant. Among the bishops of Pennsylvania who concelebrated was Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, who Bishop Bosco had ordained a deacon in 1974. "It's the end of a terrific era. He was a great, great religious leader for Western Pennsylvania," Bishop Zubik said.
Monsignor Statnick recalled finance council meetings, where Greensburg philanthropist Jack Robertshaw often closed by saying, "Bishop Bosco, when you're gone, they're going to thank you for the decisions you're making. ... I wish that they'd thank you now."
As mourners laughed, Monsignor Statnick's voice broke.
"Well Bishop Bosco, you are gone," he said, taking a long pause to compose himself. "Oh, good and faithful servant, thank you. We love you. Walk now with God in peace and on the journey of eternal life."
Ann Rodgers: email@example.com or 412-263-1416. First Published July 10, 2013 3:00 PM