Father Carmine Vairo, SDB
April 24, 1934 – January 8, 2015
Although Carmine Vairo grew up in a Jesuit parish in Hollywood, he was attracted early to the Salesian order because of the “marvelous way they work with young people. These guys played ball with us, they went on hikes with us, they did things with us,” he recalled in 2004, drawing on memories of a Salesian summer camp he attended fifty-five years earlier. In pursuing the priesthood, Vairo enrolled in the Salesian junior seminary in northern California and Don Bosco College in New Jersey. He did his theological studies in his parents’ native Italy and earned a bachelor’s degree in education at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, where he later did postgraduate work.
Following his ordination in 1964, he served as principal and vice-principal in three Salesian schools in the province – St. Mary’s in Edmonton, Salesian High School in northern California, and St. John Bosco High School in Bellflower. After additional postgraduate work at the Salesian University in Rome and three years teaching at Don Bosco College in New Jersey, he was chosen superior of the western USA province, serving in that capacity from 1979 to 1985.
Since the mid 1980s, Vairo held a variety of leadership positions. In addition to acting as director of St. Francis Retreat and Youth Center in Watsonville, California, he again served as principal of the Salesian’s boarding school in Edmonton and then as executive director of the Salesian Boys and Girls Club in East Los Angeles. For much of that time he also acted as director of Salesian communities in Los Angeles.
While president of Don Bosco Technical Institute in Rosemead, where he served from 1998 to 2007, Vairo implemented upgrades to the school’s technological and athletic facilities. During his tenure, he expanded membership on the Board of Trustees and formed a committee to prepare for the school’s celebration of its fiftieth anniversary. For several years he also served as the director of development.
March 2014 marked the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination. Most recently Fr. Carmine resided at St. John of God Retirement and Care Center in Los Angeles. He is survived by his brother, John, and sister, Antoinette.
A prayer service celebrating Fr. Carmine’s life will take place with the young people of the Salesian Boys and Girls Club in Los Angeles on Friday, January 16, 2015 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. A memorial and recitation of the Rosary with the students, faculty, and staff of Bosco Tech will take place also on Friday, January 16 from 2:15 to 3:00 p.m. Father Carmine’s body will be transferred to Bosco Tech’s Father Felix Memorial Chapel for public viewing, recitation of the Rosary, and reception in Tech Hall from 3:00 to 10:00 p.m. The following day, the Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Dominic Savio Church, Bellflower, at 11:00 a.m. Fr. Carmine will be laid to rest at the Salesian Cemetery in Richmond, CA following Mass with the Salesian Community in northern California on Tuesday, January 20, 2015.