Rev. Anthony D’Addurno is minister in our Barrie church in Ontario. He and his wife, Pina, attended our Toronto church before being called into fulltime gospel ministry. Mrs. D’Addurno is well known for her specialty pizzas, as we found out when our presbytery visited the Barrie church in October 2010. As a native of Toronto’s Italian community, Mr. D’Addurno is known as a member of the Italian band. We are thankful for his life and testimony as one dedicated to preaching the gospel and shepherding God’s people. Rev. Andy Foster, our assistant editor, interviewed Mr. D’Addurno so our readers could learn more of his life and ministry.
Please introduce yourself and your family to our readers.
For the last six years I have been minister of Barrie Free Presbyterian church, situated seventy miles north of Toronto. As one of Toronto’s bedroom communities Barrie is a vast field for the gospel. The Lord has given us a band of faithful believers who stand with me in the work of the gospel. My wife, Pina, is my loving and loyal companion in this ministry. We have three grown children: Tania, Frankie, and Melissa.
You are from a Canadian-Italian background. Tell us a little about your family background and history.
I was born in Toronto to first-generation Italian parents. We grew up in an area of the city known as “Little Italy” where the culture, language, and traditions were preserved and observed. My dad worked construction and my mom stayed home with the children. I have one younger brother and a younger sister. We grew up in typical Italian fashion, where the families are close knit. There was never a shortage of food and dad ruled with an “iron fist.” We were taught from a young age to respect our parents, elders, and family members.
You were born and raised in Catholicism. Please explain how God brought you to salvation.
It was difficult to separate Italian traditions from the church traditions. The two were intertwined to the point where it was difficult to distinguish what were cultural traditions versus religious observations. We attended the Roman Catholic church and took part in the various ritualistic sacraments. I was baptized as an infant; then at age eight, I had my first communion, and then later at age fourteen, I was confirmed. Each was a big event in the family, celebrated with relatives, more food, entertainment, and, of course, the receiving of many gifts.
As time went on, I became more disillusioned with the church and its rituals and at one point in my teens, I actually had no religious beliefs whatsoever and had no interest in religious matters at all. Then at age 22, I came to a saving knowledge of our Saviour. I had begun searching for the truth and had many questions. I desired to know if God really existed and if so, how could I know? As I searched, God began to work in my heart and one night in my bedroom, a compelling power led me to believe and brought me to the realization that God did indeed exist. A few days later, I picked up a Bible and the words were suddenly very real to me. I read of Jesus Christ, my sin, and how I needed the Saviour. I understood what God delivered me from and was saved by His grace. Several months later, the Lord also graciously saved my wife, Pina, who was my girlfriend at the time.
How did your family react to your conversion? Are they still opposed to the gospel?
My family initially thought I was involved in a cult and was brain-washed. Their reactions were harsh. I quickly learned to stay quiet and pray. My siblings did not want to hear what I had to say. My mom kept telling me, “Don’t let your dad hear you talk that way.” My dad would threaten to disown me as I had disgraced the family and gone against long-standing traditions. As time went by, there was much softening. My grandmother was saved. Both my brother and sister have made professions, and my parents are currently very receptive to what I have to say. Please pray that the Lord will soon save them as they are up in age.
How did God call you to the gospel ministry within the Free Presbyterian Church?
My call to the ministry came shortly after I was married. We had been attending the Toronto Free Presbyterian Church for a couple of years. It was through the preaching of Dr. Frank McClelland that the Lord began to speak to me about full-time service for Him. It was confirmed to me after a series of messages on the call of Matthew and on the will of God. That was in February 1986.
Are there any special memories from your time of training for the ministry that you can share with us?
We have very fond memories of our time in Northern Ireland. We met many wonderful people, ministers, and staff. We stayed at the “gate house” on the college grounds of the Whitefield College and were the “house of refuge” for many of the students living on campus. The companionship helped us through the tough times of homesickness and studies. Our eldest daughter was born in Northern Ireland.
For quite a few years you were pastor in a small congregation in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Please give us a brief account of your time there and perhaps any special challenges or blessings you enjoyed in those years that may be helpful to others in a similar work.
We ministered in Fredericton, New Brunswick, for thirteen years. We moved from a small daycare to a church building that had been empty for some time. The church was signed over to the Free Presbyterians by the remaining board members without hesitation. There were several folks that had attended the church in the past who were glad that the doors reopened. We were thankful to have them join us and later accepted them into membership.
Unfortunately, there was some bad history affiliated with this church, and many people in the area were disillusioned with Christianity altogether. It was difficult to convince them to attend and that our message was one of forgiveness and salvation in Christ. We learned patience and faithfulness to Christ and His Word.
Tell us about your current pastorate in Barrie, Ontario. Do you have any special plans for the future of the ministry there that our readers can pray about?
We would like to see the work progress to the next level. The core group is strong and faithful, and we would like to see younger folk and new families come in. We would like to elect elders in the near future to help oversee the work. As pastor in Barrie, my burden is to see God’s people grow in grace and become equipped to be faithful witnesses in this community. We look to the Lord who planted the church to make it grow and bear fruit for His glory. Please pray to that end.