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Queens Chronicle

74th Avenue named in honor of bishop

Rev. Catanello remembered as church, interfaith leader in Queens

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Posted: Thursday, June 11, 2015 10:30 am

Those who knew Bishop Ignatius Catanello said on Sunday that he was the last person who would want a street named after him.

“He was rather shy,” Rev. Casper Furnari, pastor of Holy Family RC Church, said. “He would be the last person to ask for this.”

But that’s exactly what happened on June 7 as church and political leaders stood outside Holy Family Church to rename 74th Avenue, at Utopia Parkway, in honor of the late leader of the Fresh Meadows parish.

Catanello, who was born in Brooklyn, lived at Holy Family from 1989 until his death in 2013. He was the pastor there from 2007 until his retirement in 2010, having previously served as pastor of Saint Rita in Long Island City and St. Helen in Howard Beach.

He also served as principal of Cathedral Preparatory Seminary High School in Elmhurst from 1991 to 1994, was the chaplain for the New York Mets and taught theology classes at St. John’s University for about 30 years.

Dozens of parishioners stood by the street corner, located near the entrance of the church, as stories of Catanello were recalled by his friends, family and elected officials.

“People contribute to their communities in so many different ways,” Councilman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) said. “But very few people have the impact that Bishop Catanello had on our community.”

Lancman hailed the late bishop’s leadership as the former episcopal vicar for Queens South, serving as the diocesan representative for that area, and chairman of the diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Commission, where he fostered discussion with Jewish and Islamic leaders.

“In a time when far too many people turn inward and close themselves off from other cultures and faiths, Bishop Catanello worked to create partnerships and increase harmony in our community,” Lancman said.

But to many others, Catanello was not just a church leader but a friend.

“Anyone who ever needed him day or night, he was there for him,” Salvatore Lucchese, who knew Catanello during his time at St. Ann Church in Flushing, said.

Lancman agreed with that statement, adding that the bishop had offered him consultation during his time as an assemblyman.

For Peter Petrino, Jr., grand knight of the Holy Family Knights of Columbus, which advocated for the street renaming, Catanello, “was like a second father to me.”

Petrino is also attempting to rename his KOC chapter after Catanello, who founded and led the group.

Deacon Joe Catanello, the bishop’s brother, said the stories recalled on Sunday are a testament to the person his brother was.

“I think if you really want to assess a person, sometimes it’s not only how much they love but how much they were loved,” Joe Catanello said. “And in this community and everywhere my brother went, he was loved because he was a genuine person.”

Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing) marveled at how quickly the street renaming approval process took place. Community Board 8 approved the move in December.

“That’s more of a testament of how much Bishop Catanello affected New York City,” Meng said.

Borough President Melinda Katz said the street renaming is a chance for those who knew Catanello to pass his “traditions and his legacy on to our future generations” every time they pass the corridor.

Welcome to the discussion.