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The Death of a Patriarch and a Friend

January 30, 2011
This morning at 5:50, Mr. Tommy Longo died at Toronto General Hospital after a battle with leukemia.  He was 76 years old – a relatively young man in our day.  I had the privilege of visiting him numerous times over the past two months in hospital and anointed him yesterday as his health declined rapidly.  Early today, together with nearly 40 members of the Longo family, we commended his soul to God and witnessed his final moments on earth.  It was a deeply moving moment for all of us.  Having accompanied many people in their final moments in my 25 years of ordained ministry, this morning was one of the most deeply moving moments -- to see an extraordinary, Catholic family gathered around their patriarch to bid him farewell and express their sorrow and deep gratitude for the impact he had on their lives.
Tommy Longo, together with his brothers Joe and Gus, started their family owned business Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Inc. in 1956.   The first store was located on Yonge Street and Castlefield, in Toronto.  In 1962, the Longo brothers opened their second store on Woodbine Avenue. Since then, the Longo family has been involved in every aspect of the business of their highly successful chain of supermarkets and stores that are known for commitment to quality, service and value.  The Longo family embodies family values essential to the growth and vitality of any community.  This is evidenced in their commitment to so many worthy projects, charities, and programs in the community.  Their business focuses on three key areas:
  1. Disease Prevention and Education for Families, especially the care for and prevention of Juvenile Diabetes, Heart and Stroke, Breast Cancer, and Ovarian Cancer.
  2. Children and Youth Programs that enable young people to develop into healthy and productive, independent adults.  They also support Big Brothers and Sisters.
  3. Child Nutrition and Food Aid Programs for the Community, especially Breakfast for Learning, Second Harvest, Re-Fresh Foods, Toonies for Tummies, Kerr Street Ministries and local food banks.
The Longo family have been major supporters of Salt + Light Catholic Television Network for the past four years, and Anthony Longo, Tommy’s son who is now CEO of Longo’s, is a member of our Salt + Light Board of Directors.  Most recently, the Longo Foundation supported our production of God’s Doorkeer: St. André of Montreal.
Today God called the patriarch of the Longo family home.  We mourn the passing of Tommy Longo, and pray that he may have eternal rest and peace with God.  As I prayed this morning with Tommy and the Longo family: “May the angels lead you in to paradise, the martyrs welcome you and lead you to the new Jerusalem...”
We pray for the consolation of Tommy’s wife, his brother Gus, and the entire Longo family.  He has gone no further than to God, and we know that God is very near to us.
Thank you, Tommy, and thanks to the Longo family for your unfailing, generous support of the Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation.
Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., CEO
Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation