By Michael Rizzo
There’s a new name for 74th Avenue that runs alongside Holy Family parish in Fresh Meadows, between Utopia Parkway and 175th Street. It’s now co-named Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello Way, dedicated to the late prelate who served as the parish’s pastor from 2007 to 2010 and was an auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn from 1994 until his death in 2013.
The ceremony on Sunday, June 7, culminated an effort begun last September by the Holy Family Knights of Columbus Council, which Bishop Catanello founded in 2008, and its Grand Knight Peter Petrino Jr. to get the name change for the man many knew simply as Bishop “Iggy.”
“He was my friend,” Petrino said, “and like a second father to me. When people walk by, I want them to see his legacy and remember how much he’s done for society and not just for Catholics. He helped everyone.”
That theme of Bishop Catanello’s service to the diverse communities in Queens resonated throughout the ceremony that was held under blue skies.
“He’s looking down on us and I know he made today’s weather great,” Petrino said. “I’m giving up a Yankees game to be here but for him that’s OK,” he joked, referring to Bishop Catanello’s role as a chaplain, and big fan of the New York Mets.
In attendance were current Holy Family pastor Father Casper Furnari, Congresswoman Grace Meng, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and New York City Councilman Rory Lancman whose district includes Fresh Meadows.
Lancman led the legislative process to have the street co-named which was approved by Queens Community Board 8, the New York City Council and was signed into law by Mayor Bill De Blasio in February. Lancman’s office said there were no objections from anyone in the community to the proposal.
“We re-name streets for people we want our children to remember and can serve as examples to them,” Lancman said. “Bishop Catanello was an outstanding human being and an important part of this community.”
But among the estimated 200 people at Sunday’s event, not all were from Holy Family parish or even Fresh Meadows.
Carl Haussler and his wife Margaret came from St. Helen’s parish in Howard Beach. They first met the bishop when he conducted their Pre-Cana marriage preparation 33 years ago.
“He was a wonderful man, a holy man,” Carl Haussler said, “and I know he’s with God.”
“It’s hard for me to say bishop when I refer to him,” Margaret Harrison said. She knew the bishop when he was at St. Ann’s, Flushing and she now lives at St. Gregory the Great parish in Bellerose.
“He was our friend. He was just our ‘Iggy,’” she said. “We loved him and we still do.”
“It’s not enough to just re-name a street for him,” said Maria Signorello of Our Lady of Hope, Middle Village, who, with her husband Nick, knew the bishop through his ecumenical work.
“I’d like to recommend him for sainthood,” she said. “For his kindness that he did and never talked about and his help for people. He was always kindly pushing people towards Jesus and the church.”
The bishop’s brother, Deacon Joseph Catanello, who serves at St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Jamaica, was also on hand. He said the street co-naming will serve as a reminder to the community of his brother’s presence.
Still With You
“I’m still with you,” Deacon Catanello said imagining what his brother would make of the co-naming. “I’m still part of this community. Thank you for showing I did make an impact on people.”
When the moment of the formal unveiling arrived, and with parishioners and onlookers counting him down, Deacon Catanello joined in pulling a cord to remove the temporary cover on the sign and Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello Way was official.
One onlooker was Melba Ordonez, a Holy Family parishioner.
“I think that when you are a leader, the good work you do will stand out,” she said after the ceremony. “He’s now being celebrated for all his good works.”
Grand Knight Petrino said that remembering the bishop does not end with the new street sign. The parish Knights of Columbus are re-naming their council after Bishop Catanello and are holding their second annual Dinner-Dance at the Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston June 13 to benefit the Bishop Catanello Scholarship at Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst.