A Mass of Christian Burial for Msgr. Joseph Funaro, retired pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs parish, Forest Hills, was celebrated Aug. 17 at the church. He died Aug. 14 at New York Medical Hospital Queens after a prolonged illness. He was 76.
He was ordained May 29, 1965 by Bishop Bryan J. McEntegart at St. James Pro-Cathedral, Downtown Brooklyn.
He served as an associate at Our Lady of Grace parish, Howard Beach, 1965-73, and then was assigned to Catholic Charities as the director of communications. As director of the Diocesan Theater Guild, he directed 25 musical productions that raised funds for Catholic Charities.
He was named a monsignor in 1988.
In 1989, he was named pastor of Assumption parish, Brooklyn Heights, where he served until 2000 when he became pastor at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs. He officially retired in 2012 but continued to serve as parish administrator for the new pastor, Auxiliary Bishop Paul Sanchez.
Before he was ordained a priest, Msgr. Funaro worked as a cartoonist for Paramount Pictures. He illustrated Casper the Friendly Ghost, Little Audrey, Popeye, Wimpy, Baby Huey, Catnip and Herman.
Bishop Sanchez was the main celebrant of the funeral Mass. Special concelebrants included Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto, Msgr. Edward Scharfenberger, Fathers Frank Passenant, George Cowan, Michael Carrano, Jan Czudek and Phillip Pizzo, who preached the homily.
“Above all else, Joe Funaro was a good priest,” Father Pizzo said. “He left behind a lucrative career to become a priest. He put his whole personality into it.
“Msgr. Funaro made everyone feel good about themselves because he knew he was a representative of Jesus Christ.
“He loved putting on plays. Wherever we went someone would come up to him who was in this play or that play.
“He also was a consummate fund raiser for Catholic Charities and then he put this parish back on the map.”
Bishop Sanchez said that Msgr. Funaro was “a faithful priest who gave his all to the parishes he served and to Catholic Charities which he loved so much.”
Deacon Greg Kandra, who preached at the Vigil Mass, said, “Above all else, Joe Funaro was a man of faith. Tremendous, towering faith.
“We heard him express that faith again and again from this altar in five words that could have been his creed – ‘Nothing is impossible with God.’
“Joe Funaro proved that himself again and again. He was a man who believed in possibility.
Burial was in Holy Rood Cemetery, Westbury, L.I.