Father DiGregorio was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He attended Our Lady of Angels Grade School and Saint Thomas Moore High School. After his third year of high school, at the age of 16, Father DiGregorio entered Saint Charles Seminary, Overbrook, Pennsylvania, to study for the priesthood. He was ordained on May 21, 1966.
Father DiGregorio’s early assignments included Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, Annunciation Parish, Saint Paul’s Parish, and Epiphany Parish, all in South Philadelphia. In 1971 Father DiGregorio asked permission to enter the military as a Chaplain. It was at that time that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as well as the Church in general, was beginning to feel the shortage of priests. Cardinal Kroll was reluctant to allow Father DiGregorio or any priests of the Archdiocese to enter military service. After trying for over fifteen years to join the Army, Father DiGregorio gave up and did not pursue the matter further. In 1988, when Cardinal Kroll retired, his successor, Cardinal Bevilacqua, looking at his file and his many requests, called him and asked if he was still interested in the military. Not knowing if his age would be a factor, Father DiGregorio called the Archdiocese for the military to find out if he was still eligible. Discovering that he was, Father DiGregorio called Cardinal Bevilacqua, and at the age of 48 was released for military service.
Father DiGregorio attended the Officers’ Basic Course at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. His first assignment was with the 5th Battalion, 101st Air Borne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. In 1990, he deployed with the 101st to Saudi Arabia in Operation Desert Shield/Storm. After ten months in Saudi Arabia he redeployed to Fort Campbell. His other assignments included 5th Battalion of the Second ADA (Air Defense Artillery) in Crailsheim, Germany. After two years he moved with his unit to Bamburg, Germany, and remained there for another year and a half. In 1994 Father DiGregorio was assigned to the FATC (Field Artillery Training Center) at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and in 1996 he was made the Post Catholic Pastor at Fort Sill. In 1997 he was assigned to the USAG (United States Army Garrison) at Yongson, South Korea, and then in 1998 he was assigned as the Post Catholic Pastor at Fort Wainwright, Alaska, where he remained for the next three years. In November, 2001, Father DiGregorio was assigned to HST, USAG, APG (Headquarters Support Troop, United States Army Garrison, Aberdeen Proving Grounds), Maryland. In September, 2002, he deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He remained deployed for ten months, serving the needs of soldiers in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and Iraq. He returned to APG in August, 2003. Father DiGregorio remained at APG until his retirement from active duty in December, 2004, having reached the mandatory retirement age of 65.
Father DiGregorio’s military awards include the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (5 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (3 OLC), Korean Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, Overseas Medal, and the Air Assault Badge.
In January, 2005, Father DiGregorio was appointed to Saint Martin of Tours Parish, Philadelphia. Afterwards he returned to South Philadelphia, where he remained at Stella Maris Parish until his full retirement.
Rev. Joseph L. DiGregorio passed January 21, 2023 at the age of 83. Son of the late Bernard and Clementine (nee Pace). Loving brother of Stella Medaglia and the late Lucy DiGregorio, John DiGregorio and Rita DiGregorio. Also survived by loving nieces, nephews and great nephews. Fr. Joe was a proud veteran serving his country as Major Chaplain in Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom. His last assignment was Stella Maris Church in South Philadelphia where his funeral mass will be celebrated. He will be missed by all who knew him. Relatives and friends are invited to attend his viewing Saturday 9:30 – 11AM Stella Maris Church 10th and Bigler Streets Funeral Mass will begin at 11AM. Interment Holy Cross. In lieu of flowers family request donations be made in his memory to Wounded Warrior Project 370 7th Ave. Suite 1802 NY, NY 10001 or woundedwarriorproject.org