Friar Honored by Health Advocates for Older People

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

Angelo Gambatese-l

Angelo Gambatese accepts his award from the Health Advocates for Older People. (Photo courtesy of Stephen DeWitt.)

NEW YORK — Angelo Gambatese, OFM, became one of New York’s Treasures last week.

At a Sept. 30 reception, Health Advocates for Older People presented him with the 2014 New York Treasures award.

The event, held at the Yale Club in Midtown Manhattan, included a cocktail reception followed by dinner. The awards were given out at the end of the meal, following a presentation on the work of Health Advocates for Older People and a small fundraiser, said Stephen DeWitt, OFM, who took photos.

Angelo was one of three to receive the award that, for 29 years, has recognized community service. Past recipients include Mathilda Cuomo, Kitty Carlisle Hart and Muriel Siebert, according to the invitation. Angelo has devoted himself to service, the invitation read, describing his work as a counselor at a substance abuse rehabilitation center, at a school in Upstate New York and with the programs he established while at St. Stephen of Hungary Parish in New York City.

“While the common view of ordained is that they serve in churches, friars and priests in the Franciscan Order serve society in numerous and diverse ways. Fr. Angelo has been quite exemplary of this,” according to the program.

Angelo was introduced by Marc Farina, a parishioner of St. Stephen’s, where Angelo served as pastor until late last year. The friar, who resides at St. Bonaventure Parish in Paterson, N.J., gave the benediction at the end of dinner.

Close to 40 parishioners were at the event, said Angelo, who served at St. Stephen’s from 2002 to 2013. Angelo called the event “phenomenal” and said “it was so good to see the parishioners again.”

In Angelo’s remarks, he thanked the Health Advocates. He said it felt heartwarming “when people said ‘thank you for all you have done for the community.’” The friar, who professed his final vows in 1956, said he feels that “all the people in New York City nurture one another.”

The Health Advocates for Older People is a nonprofit organization that has benefited community seniors since 1985. The organization “does super work” in New York City, noted Angelo.

“It was a pleasure to be present at the Celebrating our Treasures evening with the Health Care Advocates of New York,” said Jayne Porcelli, who worked with Angelo for seven years at St. Stephen’s. “Fr. Angelo was honored for his work at St Stephen of Hungary Church for the parishioners and the community during his years in Yorkville. Among his noted accomplishments were a tolerance preaching series, a community Thanksgiving dinner, the establishment of a parish council, and exercise and community services for seniors.”

Farina “spoke of what an honorable and compassionate pastor and friend Fr. Angelo has been,” Porcelli said.

“When Fr. Angelo accepted his award, his heartfelt words of thanks began with his happiness for being home once more in New York City, a place he loves so very much,” she added. “His gratitude to the Health Care Advocates and the parishioners of St Stephen’s for their recognition of his work and his efforts for all in the Yorkville community were simple and gracious.

“Those of us who ministered with Fr. Angelo and were his parishioners are so very glad that someone took the opportunity to say ‘thank you’ to him,” continued Porcelli, who became acquainted with Angelo 20 years ago.

Jocelyn Thomas is director of communication for Holy Name Province.