POMPTON PLAINS, N.J. — Angelus Gambatese, OFM, 82, a professed Franciscan friar for 62 years and a priest for 56, died Feb. 5 at Chilton Memorial Hospital.
A wake will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 10, with a wake service at 2 p.m., at St. Bonaventure Church, 174 Ramsey St., in Paterson, N.J. A wake will also take place on Thursday, Feb. 11 from 9 to 10 a.m. at St. Bonaventure Church, followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10:15 a.m. Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, will serve as principal celebrant and homilist. Burial will follow at Holy Sepuchre Cemetery in Totowa, N.J.
Angelus was born on Feb. 26, 1933 to Angelo and Florence (nee Avigliano) Gambatese and baptized Robert in Paterson. After attending St. Bonaventure High School in Paterson, he entered St. Joseph Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1950, where he studied for two years.
He was received into the Franciscan Order in 1952 and professed first vows one year later. After studying philosophy and theology, Angelus professed solemn vows in 1956 and was ordained to the priesthood three years later.
His first assignment in 1959 was as an instructor in philosophy at St. Bonaventure University in Allegany, N.Y., where he earned a master’s degree in 1962. After completing a doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana in 1966, he returned to St. Bonaventure University, where he taught for another four years, first as assistant and then as associate professor of philosophy.
During his tenure at the university, Angelus was chair of the philosophy department from 1967 to 1969. He also served as a member of the Board of Instruction and on a number of faculty committees.
In 1971, Angelus transitioned from college to secondary education, teaching social studies and business at Bishop Ludden High School in Syracuse, N.Y., for seven years. During this time, he served in several other capacities, including as a drug counselor and chair of the drug committee from 1971 to 1977, and as a guidance counselor from 1975 to 1978.
Seven years, later, Angelus became involved in parish ministry when he was appointed coordinator of pastoral staff at St. Mary’s Church in Pompton Lakes, N.J., for three years. He returned to parish work in 2002 as pastor of St. Stephen of Hungary Church on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, where he served for 11 years.
Angelus focused much of his ministry on providing pastoral care, education, treatment and supportive services for people with AIDS and those struggling with substance abuse. As a certified addictions specialist, he held a number of positions and served on a variety of committees and associations in these fields over the years. He was director of Straight and Narrow, a Catholic Charities agency in the Diocese of Paterson for clients with addictive disorders and HIV disease, from 1988 to 1995.
He was presented with the 2014 New York Treasures award by Health Advocates for Older People in New York City for his work on behalf of St. Stephen of Hungary parishioners and the local community during his years in Yorkville.
He retired to St. Bonaventure Friary in Paterson in 2014. He transferred to St. Anthony Friary in Butler, N.J., in July 2015 and Holy Name Friary in Ringwood, N.J., a few months later.
Angelus is survived by a brother, Frank Gambatese of Kendall Park, N.J., and a sister, Maria Gambatese of West Milford, N.J., as well as nieces and nephews.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars — Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd St., New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Compiled by Carolyn Croke and Maria Hayes
- “Friar Honored by Health Advocates for Older People” — Oct. 8, 2014, HNP Today
- “The New York Times Features St. Stephen of Hungary Parish School” — Aug. 29, 2012, HNP Today
- “Fr. Angelo Gambatese Dies” — Feb. 10, 2016 The Record