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New pastor coming to St. Helen’s in Howard Beach

THE COURIER/Photo by Salvatore Licata

St. Helen’s Catholic Parish is getting ready to welcome a new pastor to their church.

Father Francis Colamaria will be coming to the Howard Beach parish on Jan. 31, taking over for its current pastor, Msgr. LoPinto. Colamaria is currently the administrative director and priest at Holy Child Jesus Parish in Richmond Hill and is excited about the change.

“Though I will miss Holy Child Jesus, I am really looking forward to serving the people of Howard Beach,” he said. “Msgr. LoPinto did a tremendous job of making new renovations to the church and school, which is great because now I can focus more on the spiritual portion.”

Colamaria, 39, has been a priest since 2001. He started at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Ozone Park and remained there until 2007. After that, he moved on to St. Ephrem’s in Brooklyn for a year and was also the chaplain at Xaverian High School. He is now the deputy chief chaplain of the MTA and has been at Holy Child Jesus since 2008.

One thing Colamaria is looking forward to is being able to work with the school more closely as he feels Catholic education is very important for children to learn.

“Catholic education provides morals, responsibility and creates love of family and life, which is sometimes lacking in this world,” he said. “It creates a good environment for our children and is one of the best products we have as a church.”

During his time at his current parish, Colamaria has run annual Oktoberfests and huge block parties and made a connection between the parish and school. He is looking forward to bringing some of his new ideas to St. Helen’s and learning from the retired Msgr. Pfeiffer, who he says is “a seasoned veteran.”

LoPinto will be moving on to become the head of Catholic Charities once Colamaria takes over. He said the people of Howard Beach have been through a lot, especially when dealing with the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, but he knows that their spirits have been unchanged.

“The people of Howard Beach are good people,” Colamaria noted. “It is a great environment and I look forward to learning more about it.”

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