D'Agostino, Angelo 1926-2006

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D'Agostino, Angelo 1926-2006


See index for CA sketch: Born January 26, 1926, in Providence, RI; died of heart failure, November 20, 2006, in Nairobi, Kenya. Priest, physician, psychiatrist, educator, activist, and author. A Jesuit priest who was originally trained as a urologist, D'Agostino was best known for his charitable work helping orphans with AIDS in Kenya. As a child, he suffered from a number of ailments, including asthma and lupus. He therefore spent considerable time at home reading and gardening. Despite his illnesses, he would go on to live an energetic life. First attending St. Michael's College, where he earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy and chemistry in 1945, he finished his medical degree at Tufts University in 1949. Four years later, he completed an M.S. in surgery at Tufts, as well. D'Agostino then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, and he was chief of urology at Bolling Air Force Base from 1953 to 1955. He was inspired to become a priest after attending a Knights of Columbus retreat. He approached the Jesuits, and the order told him they were more in need of a psychiatrist than a urologist. Thus D'Agostino obligingly studied psychiatry at Georgetown University, where he completed his residency. He also studied at the Washington Psychoanalytic Institute from 1962 to 1967, where he was an instructor in psychiatry. Ordained in 1966, D'Agostino continued his academic career at George Washington University. Here he was an associate professor from 1969 until 1972, when he was promoted to clinical professor. He was also the founding director of the university's Center for Religion and Psychiatry. D'Agostino had a private practice in psychiatry in Washington, DC, from 1983 until 1987, and during this time often provided treatment to local police officers. In the 1980s, he worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service in Thailand and East Africa and practiced psychiatry and psychoanalysis in Nairobi, Kenya. There he found his real calling when he became involved with the board of governors for an orphanage in 1991. Kenya has been one of the African nations hardest hit by the AIDS epidemic, and there were over one million children in the country who were orphaned because of the disease. Many of these children were born with AIDS that had been passed down from their mothers. The Kenyan government ostracized these children, who were not allowed to attend school and were shunned by many people. D'Agostino decided an orphanage should be created just for them, so he established the Nyumbani Orphanage in 1992. He also founded the nonprofit Nyumbani fundraising organization and Nyumbani Village, which is home to both children and the elderly who have been affected by the epidemic. In 1998, he created the community program Lea Toto, which runs outreach services. Nyumbani provides medical care to those afflicted with AIDS, and D'Agostino traveled the world seeking donors for his cause. He also successfully sued the government of Kenya to allow children with AIDS to return to school in 2005. Named a Grand Knight of Italy's Order of Merit in 1972, D'Agostino was the editor of Family, Church and Community (1965) and coauthor of A Directory of Counseling for Priests and Religious in the United States, 1973 (1973).



Chicago Tribune, November 23, 2006, section 3, p. 9.

Los Angeles Times, November 22, 2006, p. B8.

Times (London, England), December 12, 2006, p. 47.

Washington Post, November 22, 2006, p. B8.