Founder, Father Philip A. Guarino

Father Philip believed that together, we could change the world for the better. We carry on his dream, and with God’s help, we will fulfill it.

Philip Guarino Best Small

Father Philip Guarino

Father Philip A. Guarino was a former Roman Catholic Priest who founded the U.S. Grand Priory of the Ordre Souverain et Militaire du Temple de Jérusalem (OSMTJ), which he called the Supreme Military Order of the Jerusalem Temple.  The Swiss Grand Prior, Alfred Zappelli, recruited and introduced Philip to Grand Master Zdrojewski who appointed Philip the Grand Prior of the United States on February 15th, 1973 (4)(9)(14).  Philip worked tirelessly to grow this new Priory and became its first Grand Prior.  Guarino was an Italian-American Priest, born in 1907 in West Winfield, Pa., and raised in Framingham, M.A.   He was trained by the Jesuits at Boston College where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1931.  He went on to Seminary in Italy where he was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest.

In 1945, Philip moved to Washington DC where he was very active in politics.  In all, he knew and served four Presidents in various capacities: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, and George H. W. Bush (1)(2)(3).  He was hard working and committed to his causes, pursuing them with unthinkable energy.  Philip lived a daily life that was devoted to God and was generous to others.  He embodied the principles of the Knights Templar throughout his life.  He latter found the love of his life, Sarah, and made the great sacrifice of leaving the Priesthood to marry her.  He did not take that decision lightly, but believed this was the direction God was leading his life.

Guarino was a long-time and prominent political activist and fund raiser.  He knew the political game was like a full-contact sport.  Over the years, his political enemies had thrown a lot of mud hoping to tarnish him enough to knock him out of the political game.  Philip’s political enemies had accused him of being so many nasty things: a Nazi, a Fascist, a Neo-Fascist, a member of P2, a member of the Cosa Nostra, an anti-Semite, and even of being a Communist (even though he actively opposed the rise of Communism in Italy).   Philip denied  being any of these things and let the expected character assassination attempts roll off his back as a sign he was considered a threat.  Philip’s love and loyalty was to America and the stories he was most proud to tell his close friends were about defending American interests like his role in Operation Jedburgh.

Philip’s friend, General Bill Donovan, director of the Office of Strategic Services (Also called the OSS, the precursor to the CIA), recruited Philip to aid him in planning for Operation Jedburgh (10).  In Operation Jedburgh, three hundred American, British, and French soldiers parachuted deep behind enemy lines in France to assist the beleaguered French Resistance.  The “Jeds” launched a stunningly effective guerrilla campaign against the Germans in preparation for the Normandy invasion during WWII.

Guarino passed away in 1993 and is greatly missed.  President George H.W. Bush described Philip as “A good man with a big heart.  He was a true warrior for the Party, and a friend to the Bushes” (13).  Philip’s Obituary read: November 10th, 1993 – Philip A. Guarino, 86, the former owner of Phil’s Italian Restaurant (303 Georgia Ave, NW in Washington DC) in Washington and a local Republican Party activist, died of cardiac arrest Nov. 10 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. Mr. Guarino opened his restaurant here in 1945 shortly after moving to Washington, and he operated the business until 1970. From 1970 until 1973, he was a partner in the Villa Rosa Restaurant in Silver Spring. (Rosa Dellenoci Location: Olney, MD) (6).  

Listed below are Father Guarino’s many accomplishments:

*Vice-chairman of the Ethnic Outreach Committee for the George H.W. Bush Campaign.

*Appointed as “Member-At-Large” for the United States Commission for UNESCO.

*He was the Director of the Senior Citizens Division of the National Republican Committee, which was a paid position.

*He was appointed to John Connally’s Committee on the Defense of the Mediterranean which, among other things, distributed anti-communist materials in Italy. (Connally was Richard Nixon’s Secretary of the Treasury and a member of the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board under Presidents Nixon and Ford.) (12)

* From 1968 until September of 1981 Philip served as the Director of the National Republicans of Italian Descent.

*In 1964 he was one of the Campaign Directors for Barry Goldwater’s Presidential bid.

* Selected as a Republican National Committee Advisor.

* Philip was chosen as a Delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1956, 1960 (alternate), 1964, 1968, 1972 (alternate), and 1976 .

*Starting in 1968 and for many years after, Father Guarino was active on the DC Republican Committee. He was later chosen to serve on the DC Republican Central Committee.

*Finished Theology School in Italy and was ordained a Roman Catholic Priest.

*He was the Co-Founder and a Director of the District of Columbia National Bank, which now is called “NationsBank”.

*Philip served as the Italian-American Coordinator in the Nationalities Division of the Richard Nixon Presidential Campaigns where he secured support and donations from Italian-Americans. (11)

*He was the Co-Founder and former President of the D.C. Restaurant Beverage Association.

*Philip was the Treasurer of the National Licensed Beverage Association.

*Chairman of the Washington DC Italian Historical Society.

*Served on the Board of Directors of the National Italian-American Foundation

* Served as President of the National Republican Committee of Italian Descent.

*He was a member of the Washington DC Board of Trade

*Elected to the Vice Chairmanship of the Republican Heritage groups from 1971-1975

* Guarino helped to establish the Ethnic Division of the GOP in 1952 (12)

*Deputy Directory of the Speaker’s Bureau, Washington DC.

*Established and ran two restaurants, The Villa Rosa, and Phil’s Italian Restaurant.  Interestingly, Phil’s Italian Restaurant had become such a mainstay for politicians and journalists in the Washington D.C. area, that the CBS sitcom, Murphy Brown (November 14, 1988, to May 18, 1998), based it’s own local hangout on it, “Phil’s Bar.”


  13. Email from The Director of Correspondence, Linda Casey Poepsel, Office of President George H.W. Bush, Received April 9th, 2015.
  14. The Order of the Solar Temple: The Temple of Death, by James R. Lewis (Ashgate Publishing, 2006) p. 25 ISBN 9780754652854