The beloved priest passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning at Cabrini Hospital.

Fr Luciano was born on March 9, 1926, in Prignano, in the northern Italian region of Emilia-Romagna.

Growing up not far from Maranello, the home of Ferrari, he discovered a passion for cars and speed which would burn within him throughout his long journey in Australia from 1951.

It was a missionary journey to accompany the many Italians who arrived in Australia in the 1950s and ’60s.

Before settling in Melbourne definitively in 1980, the Capuchin priest - ordained in Reggio Emilia on December 23, 1950 - carried out his mission, moving from one city to another in this expansive country.

From 1951 to 1953, he was in Melbourne, before moving to Adelaide until 1955, then Halifax, in Queensland, from 1956 to 1962.

He then spent time in Brisbane until 1964, when he was transferred to Perth, before returning to Melbourne from ’71 to ’77 and then Adelaide until 1980.

That was the year he was officially appointed rector of St Anthony’s Shrine in Hawthorn.

He served the community with an energy, passion, sensitivity and imagination which made him an authentic, popular and charismatic leader.

He was also a spiritual figure who was appreciated for his exuberance, his open nature and readiness to help, and even for his theatrics in Mass before a large crowd: he made virtual hugs to everyone present and greeted people with open arms from the altar in a gesture of genuine fraternity and inclusion.

Fr Luciano worked hard alongside the Italian community in Australia, particularly in Melbourne, soon making St Anthony’s Shrine the church of the community.

In fact, many processions and festivities took place in that church, and music, merriment and sincere friendship filled the building.

Myriad Italian couples married in “his” church, and their children were later baptised and celebrated their sacraments there.

Often, the same children would follow in their parents’ footsteps and marry in the same church.

The building is architecturally rich and the bell tower spire was restored thanks to an initiative spearheaded by Fr Luciano and supported by the community he served, which appreciated and recognised his efforts until the end.

He stood at the altar at Christmas, and even last Sunday he wanted to say a few words at what would be his last Mass. 

In 2009, Fr Luciano received the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity, a special recognition from the Italian government, for his “tireless pastoral activity, commitment to education, as a valuable reference point for Italians residing in Australia, and as an admirable example of devotion to one’s homeland”.

Fr Luciano will rightfully be remembered for all these reasons.