Pastor William (Bill) Costanzo sits in his recliner in his room at Elan Gardens. His Bible is not far from his reach. He uses it to prepare for a weekly Bible class with other residents. A shelf holds books of commentaries. The Bible he used so many times at the pulpit is well worn and according to Bill “has been recovered” several times.
One of 13 children of the late Louis and Sarah Costanzo, both Italian immigrants, Bill was born September 2, 1932 in Dunmore.
“All my brothers and sisters were born in the house. The doctor wanted my mother to go to the hospital when she was having me. She was there a week and I never came, so he sent her home. I was born at home like the rest of the family,” he said.
Naming a baby can be very difficult. The doctor asked the Costanzo parents what they wanted to name their son.
“Lots of names were used already. The doctor said ‘Bills are due the first of the month, so why not name him Bill?’ So the doctor named me Bill,” he said with a chuckle.
He attended Wheaton College in Illinois as a Bible Theology Major. After graduating, he went on to the Philadelphia Faith Theological Seminary to study to become a pastor. During this time, he became a student pastor in Duryea for three years.
“Every weekend I would drive to Philadelphia to Duryea and back,” he said.
His ministry took him far from his hometown of Dunmore. He taught at the Clearwater Christian College in Clearwater, Fla. From there, he became pastor of a church in Bristol, Tenn. for 20 years.
“They could not get rid of me,” he said. His brothers and sisters needed help, so he returned to Pennsylvania.
Bill is the husband of the late Susanna Costanzo and Dorothy Costanzo. He has several stepchildren and step grandchildren.
Today, he belongs to the Reformed Baptist Church in Scranton.
“My friends pick me up on Sunday morning and Wednesday night to take me to church,” he said.
His love for ministering to others remains strong. When his voice is raspy he takes a spoonful of honey to soothe it.
“This is the voice you get standing on the pulpit and preaching and singing.”
On one Saturday, six residents were in attendance for the Bible class.
“The class is open to everyone and is non-denominational. People who are Roman Catholic and Jewish come,” he said. The class is a half an hour and includes an opening prayer, followed by a scripture reading and discussion. This particular Saturday the discussion was on the Gospel of John.
“Jesus knows our hearts. He sees who we are. It does not matter if you are Polish, Irish or English. That is not the question. The Holy Spirit comes into our hearts,” he said.
Bill’s days and weeks are filled by reading his Bible and taking notes to share with his Bible class. His smile and joy are endless as he shares his love of being a pastor .