Fresh Meadows street renamed for late religious leader

fresh meadows
Photo courtesy Councilman Rory Lancman’s office

Local Catholics and elected officials gathered outside Holy Family Church in Fresh Meadows on Sunday to rename a nearby street in honor of the late Bishop Ignatius Catanello.

Catanello, 74, served the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens for 47 years as a priest, more than 20 of which took place at Holy Family Church. He took up residence at the parish rectory in 1988 after being appointed vicar of the diocese’s Queens South region, and was appointed the church’s pastor in 2007.

The bishop continued in service to the parish until his retirement in 2010, and he died in 2013 of a lengthy illness. Following his death, Councilman Rory Lancman and parishioners supported legislation to rename 74th Avenue between 175th Street and Utopia Parkway in Catanello’s honor.

Helping Lancman and members of the Catanello family unveil the tribute on Sunday were Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, Rep. Grace Meng, Holy Family Pastor Fr. Casper Furnari and the Holy Family Knights of Columbus.

“Bishop Catanello devoted his life to helping the people of Queens,” Lancman said. “Co-naming 74th Avenue, right next to Holy Family Church where the bishop spent so much of his life, is a wonderful tribute to this caring and dedicated man who touched the lives of so many.”

Katz remembered Catanello’s “faith, scholarship and pastoral leadership” for setting “positive examples for all of us and [helping] to make the borough a better place to live and raise a family.”

A native of Brooklyn, Catanello was ordained a priest in May 1966. During his service, he had stints as pastor of several other Queens churches including St. Rita’s in Long Island City, St. Helen’s in Howard Beach and St. Ann’s in Flushing.

He also served as principal-rector of Cathedral Preparatory Seminary in Elmhurst between 1991 and 1994 and was an adjunct professor for many years at St. John’s University; the Jamaica institution conferred him an honorary doctorate of law in 1989.

Pope John Paul II named Catanello an auxiliary bishop in 1994. He served the Diocese of Brooklyn as vicar of clergy and vicar for consecrated life and apostolic organizations. Catanello continued to serve Holy Family residence and was named its pastor in 2007. Health problems, however, forced Catanello to retire in 2010.

Parishioners and family members alike remembered the bishop fondly at Sunday’s ceremony.

“I met [him] when I joined Holy Family Parish and the Holy Family Knights of Columbus in 2008,” said Peter Joseph Petrino Jr. “For the five years that I knew him, he became like a second father to me.”

“I have observed if one wants to assess a person’s life, you can judge not so much on how much they loved people, but on how much they were loved,” added Deacon Joe Catanello, the late bishop’s brother, “and I have observed that the congregation loved him dearly.”