Rev. Msgr. Charles L. Borgognoni

BorgognoniThe Reverend Monsignor Charles L. Borgognoni (1923-2007) served as a Roman Catholic priest and community leader for more than fifty years in the greater Syracuse area. He is most widely remembered as Syracuse University’s Catholic Chaplain from 1962-1992 and the Director of the nationally recognized Pompeian Players amateur musical theatrical group from 1950-86.

Popularly known as “Father Charles,” he was born in Canastota, the eldest son of Giuseppe and Amelia Vignoli Borgognoni. Educated in the Canastota Central School District, Fr. Charles graduated in 1941 as the class Salutatorian. He received his theological training at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s Seminaries from 1941-48 and was Ordained into the Roman Catholic Priesthood on May 6, 1948.

After a brief assignment at St. Joseph’s Parish in Oswego, Fr. Charles was sent to Our Lady of Pompeii in Syracuse in 1949. Over the next 13 years, he established himself as a vibrant and successful cleric, homilist, and youth minister. During this time he took directorship of a small parish comedy troupe, the Pompeian Players, and utilized it as a way to get the parish’s young people off of the streets and more fully involved with school and their faith. Over the ensuing 36 years, the Players, under Fr. Charles’ leadership, became recognized as one of the nation’s leading amateur musical theater organizations. The company produced annual Broadway productions that eventually featured the actual scenery and costumes utilized by professional productions in New York City. The professionalism of the cast, staging, and direction of the Players annually drew thousands of patrons to Syracuse’s largest theaters.

In December 1962, Fr. Charles was appointed the Roman Catholic Chaplain at SyracuseBorgognoni Graduation University. Again he demonstrated his ability at ministering to the needs of young people. From the start, Fr. Charles viewed his chaplaincy through the perspective of an activist by immersing himself in as many aspects of university life as possible. While many best remember him in his highly prominent capacity as the chaplain to the SU football and basketball teams, he was equally busy working in developing programming and interaction for all students on the Hill that included such things as a weekly spaghetti supper with freshmen, lectures, discussion groups, an annual film series, liturgical and social ministries and much more. He also had a special appreciation for the University’s international students, many of whom were exiles from war-torn regions or totalitarian regimes, and helped establish an international Students Association.

In 1972 Pope Paul VI invested Fr. Charles as an Honorary Prelate, bestowing on him the title of Reverend Monsignor. His many good works and accomplishments have been widely recognized. Among those: the Simon LeMoyne Medal for Significant and Humanitarian Contributions to Society, Central New York Inter-Religious Council Leadership Award, New York State Governor’s Citation for Service to Syracuse University and the Syracuse Community, United States Congressional Record, and NYS Assembly and Senate Citations for Community Service.