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Notre Dame College joins the Northeast Ohio and national Catholic communities in mourning the passing of retired Cleveland Bishop and honorary Notre Dame alumnus Anthony M. Pilla.

Pilla died September 21, 2021, at the age of 88. He served 25 years as the spiritual leader of the Cleveland Diocese and retired in 2006, citing health concerns.

The College presented Pilla with the Notre Dame College Medal, the College’s highest honor, in 2009 for his steadfast commitment to those in need and his role in building bridges of understanding in the diverse Diocese of Cleveland. The Notre Dame Board of Trustees previously presented Pilla with the College’s Fidelia Award in 1994 for his longstanding spiritual and intellectual support of the College.

Pilla holds an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Notre Dame.

The College also established the Bishop Anthony M. Pilla Scholarship Fund in 2002 to honor him for his lifelong dedication to higher education and his endeavors to make a Catholic education accessible to marginalized students. The fund encouraged Northeast Ohio philanthropists to enable impoverished students to achieve their dreams of a college degree.

The former bishop was a frequent supporter of Notre Dame community events, including offering prayer at the College’s InnerCitySaints Award ceremonies.

The Notre Dame community offers condolences to the family and friends of Bishop Pilla.

Pilla was ordained to the priesthood in 1959. He served in parish ministry and joined the faculty of Borromeo Seminary in Cleveland in 1960. He was named rector of Borromeo in 1972 and appointed secretary for services and religious personnel of the diocese in 1975.

He became a bishop in 1979, when St. John Paul II named him an auxiliary bishop of Cleveland. He was named the ninth bishop of Cleveland in November 1980 and was installed Jan. 6, 1981.

September 2021

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