St. Alfonso Maria Fusco (March 23, 1839- February 6, 1910 ) was a Roman Catholic priest and Founder of the Congregation of the Sister of St. John the Baptist, commonly known as Baptistine Sisters. Don Alfonso Maria Fusco was born to Aniello Fusco, a farmer and his wife Giuseppina Schianove, at Angri, Saleno, Italy, March 23, 1839. Alfonso’s birth was attributed to the intercession of St.Alphonsus de Ligouri, whose tomb was visited by the couple, since they did not have a baby even after four years of their marriage. A redemptorist Father assured them that they would have a son, whom they would call Alfonso. Two month after the infant’s birth, Alphonsus de Ligouri was canonized. While they were there, the Redemptorist Francesco saverio pecorelli told them: “you will have a son; you will name him Alfonso; he will become a priest and will live the life of Blessed Alphonso”. He told his parents when he was eleven that he wanted to become a priest, and on November 5, 1850,’ freely and with the sole desire to serve to God and the Church”, as he himself declared many years later, he entered the Episcopal Seminary of Noceradei Pagani. On May 29, 1863, he was ordained by the Archbishop of Salerno, Monsignor Anthony Salomone, amidst the joy of his family and the enthusiasm of the people. Quickly he distinguished himself among the clergy of the Collegiata of St. John the Baptist in Angri of his zeal, his regular attendance at liturgical services and for his diligence in the administration of the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation where he revealed his paternal understanding of his penitents. He devoted himself to the evangelization of the people through his sample and incisive style of preaching.
During the night of February 5, 1910, he felt unwell. He requested and then received the sacraments in the morning of February 6; after having blessed with trembling hands his own daughters weeping around his bed, he exclaimed: “Lord, I thank you, I have been a useless servant.” Then, turning to the sisters: “from heaven I will not forget you. I will pray for you always.” And he slept peacefully in the Lord.
News of his death spread quickly and for that entire Sunday, there was a procession of people crying and saying: “The father of the poor is dead; the saint is dead!”.
His witness has been an inspiration of life and a means of grace, especially for his Sisters spread today throughout four continents. On February 12, 1976, Pope Paul VI recognized his heroic virtues; on October 16, 2016, Pope Francis raised him as Saint, and offered him as an example to priests, and a model for every one as an educator and protector especially to the poor and the needy.