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Friday 04 December |
Saint John Damascene

RIP, Rev. Peter Colapietro, Mickey Rourke's 'guardian angel' and a great New York priest

Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 02/06/18

From The New York Times:

The Rev. Peter M. Colapietro, a Roman Catholic priest and outsize New York personality whose late-night presence as a regular at celebrity hangouts contrasted with his low-key work in parishes in Manhattan, died on Monday night. He was 69.

The cause was emphysema, said Dr. Joseph Platania, his cardiologist. Father Colapietro had been in a rehabilitation facility for about a year.

He was assigned to St. Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church, known as the Actors’ Chapel, in 2015 after two years at the Church of St. Monica on East 79th Street. But he spent most of his career at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church on West 42nd Street, where he was the pastor for 18 years and the parish administrator for three.

Father Colapietro — “Father Pete” to those who encountered him, in or out of a church — became known as the “saloon priest.” This was partly because he had worked in bars before he joined the priesthood and partly because he was a regular at Elaine’s, the celebrity hangout on the Upper East Side that closed in 2011.

From his late nights there and at other haunts, he knew his share of celebrities, and he ministered to them, formally and informally. In 2003 he delivered the homily at the funeral Mass for Dave DeBusschere, the Hall of Fame forward for the Knicks. He said Mass in 2015 on the death of the irrepressible restaurateur Jean-Claude Baker, whose Chez Josephine was down the block from Holy Cross.

…Some Sundays he officiated at Mass after a breakfast of coffee and cigarettes, and sometimes there were tense moments. At Holy Cross, a man once threw a beer bottle toward the front of the church during Sunday Mass. It chipped a step leading to the altar.

Another time, the actor Mickey Rourke walked in. Father Colapietro said he realized that Mr. Rourke had a gun and wanted “to kill somebody and commit suicide.” Mr. Rourke’s two-year-old marriage to the model Carré Otis was fraying. The Catholic publication Our Sunday Visitor reported that he had been on his way to kill a man who he believed had raped Ms. Otis while she was high on drugs. Father Colapietro said Mr. Rourke had been carrying a suicide note.

Mr. Rourke said that Father Colapietro “took away my gun” and persuaded him to put it behind a statue of St. Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes. Father Colapietro said later that he did not remember disarming Mr. Rourke.

“We sat here and smoked cigarettes and drank wine and left as friends,” he recalled in 2013.

Read more.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…

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