I am sure that many of you are aware that Fr. Dennis Colamarino, of the Christ the Light of the World parishes in Duquesne, lost his courageous battle against ALS on March 28, 2015.
I have spoken about Fr. Dennis several times in many of my posts over the past years. To say that he was inspirational would be an understatement. He inspired, motivated, counseled and blessed me, my family members and indeed, his ENTIRE community of parishioners from Holy Name, St. Hedwig’s and St. Joseph’s.
There is so much that can said about Fr. Dennis and the impact that he had on his Faith Community. There have been so many testimonials and articles written about this remarkable man of God. However, Tara Hoover, Web and Social Media Manager for Christ the Light of the World Parish has memorialized Fr. Dennis in one very heartfelt image on the parish website.
Tara has also posted a video recording of Funeral Celebration of Father Dennis Colamarino held at the Holy Name Worship Site on April 11, 2015, and celebrated by Bishop David A. Zubik. You can view this recording when you the visit the parish website by clicking on the parish logo below and scrolling down their home page:
Fr. Dennis’s obituary read as follows:
Rev. DENNIS J. COLAMARINO
1947 – 2015
REV. DENNIS J. COLAMARINO OBITUARY
On March 28, 2015, Fr. Dennis J. Colamarino, Pastor of Christ the Light of the World and St. Joseph Parishes, completed his Lenten journey and became Easter. He taught those around him how to live and love and showed them how to die with strength and dignity.
Fr. Dennis was born on December 26, 1947, in Pittsburgh, son of the late Felix and Florence (Deni) Colamarino. He attended St. Luke Elementary School in Carnegie and graduated from Canevin High School. He received his BA from Duquesne University and M.Div. from St. Francis College in Loretto. He was ordained on May 5, 1973, by Bishop Vincent M. Leonard at St. Paul Cathedral. He became a priest in the Diocese of Pittsburgh on May 5, 1973. He was the Parochial Vicar at St. Titus Parish, Aliquippa from 1973-1978, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Burgettstown from 1978-1983 and Holy Name Parish, Duquesne from 1983-1984.
He was named Pastor of Holy Name Parish from 1984-1994 and Administrator of St. Hedwig Parish from 1988-1994. In 1994, Fr. Dennis was appointed the first pastor of the newly formed Christ the Light of the World Parish where he served as Pastor until his death. In 1999, he was concurrently assigned Administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Duquesne. In 2003, he was appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish and continued to serve as Pastor until his death.
Along with his Parish responsibilities, Fr. Dennis has served as Deanery Director for the Steel Valley Religious Education Team, Defender of the Bond for the Diocesan Marriage Tribunal, Chaplain to the Duquesne Police Department, Duquesne Volunteer Fire Department and the Allegheny County Police Officers Memorial, Motivational Speaker on the AIDS Epidemic to High School and Church Groups, Co-Leader of Christ the Light of the World Parish AIDS Care Team, Liaison for Christian Associates of Western PA AIDS Interfaith Care Teams, Member and Vicariate Two Representative of the Priest Council. He frequently celebrated Saturday night Mass for the Steelers opponents when they played in Pittsburgh.
He was the brother of Arthur (Robin) Colamarino of Osprey, FL, Anita (Gary) Rosensteel of McMurray, Joan (John) Schlueter of Venetia, Mary (Phil) Shank of Carnegie, and Philip (Clare) Colamarino of Lake Mary, FL. He is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
Visitation will be held from 12-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 9, 2015, and Friday, April 10, 2015, in Holy Name Church of Christ the Light of the World Parish, 32 S. First, Duquesne, PA. A Vesper Service will be held on Friday evening (April 10, 2015) at 7:00 p.m. at Holy Name Church. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated by Bishop David A. Zubik on Saturday, April 11, 2015, at Holy Name Church at 11:00 a.m. Private family burial will be in Holy Name Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, Fr. Dennis requested that donations for “ALS Research” be made in his memory to the ALS Association Western Pennsylvania Chapter, 416 Lincoln Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15209.
Below is the post that I wrote nearly two years before his passing when Fr. Dennis first announced his battle with ALS:
I have often written about Fr. Dennis, Pastor of Christ the Light of the World, in CTLW Duquesne. Fr. Dennis is Pastor for the Holy Name site, the St. Hedwig site, and at the St. Joseph site. In December, 2011 after a visit to Duquesne, I posted the following:
It was 8 a.m. and we headed to Duquesne to the 8:30 Mass at St. Hedwig’s on South 5th Street. It had been drizzling that morning, so the air was filled with the familiar smells of damp fallen leaves on the sidewalks and streets. I parked across from the church on 5th Street underneath one of the majestic sycamores that line the bricked streets. Churchgoers were filing into the church and it reminded me of an idyllic Norman Rockwell illustration from the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
St. Hedwig’s is the smaller of the Catholic churches in Duquesne. It offers an intimate setting for all attendees but doesn’t compromise on pure beauty. Even though I grew up in Holy Name Church, I have become very comfortable at St. Hedwig. My dad liked attending mass there and since his death, I have continued to do so as well.
To tell you the truth, it wouldn’t really matter which of the church I went to that Sunday. Since all they all had Fr. Dennis as the celebrant, they all would have been equally inspiring. For those of you who have never had the opportunity to experience attending a mass being conducted by Fr. Dennis Colamarino, you definitely need to do so.
As I sat next to my Aunt Peggy during mass on that 2nd Sunday in Advent, a thought crossed my mind. I realized that the extraordinary sense of belonging, of faith and of reverence that I was feeling was EXACTLY the same as I felt as a child when I first understood what being a Christian and a Catholic was all about. I remember how my parents were so passionate about attending mass and always seemed to be so “connected” to what was occurring. THAT’S what I felt that Sunday morning with Fr. Dennis.
To say that Fr. Dennis is captivating as a celebrant is an understatement. His personality, positive demeanor, style and speaking ability is “over the top” in a very positive way. When you couple his talents with the extraordinary musical talents of the Music Ministry members, Debbie Walters, Ray Judy and Greg Lesko, you have an experience just this side of heaven.
Fr. Dennis’ sermon contained a story about a woman who was nearing the end of her life due to a health issue. She was having a discussion with her priest about her wishes for her eventual funeral. She told her priest that she wanted to be buried in the dress she wore when she was married. The priest indicated that it should not be a problem. She then indicated that she wanted to have the song, On Eagle’s Winds, sung at her funeral. Again, no problem. Her final request took the priest aback however. She told him that she wanted to be buried with a fork in her hand. The woman explained. “My mother once told me a story that I never forgot and I have tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. Here’s her story:
“In all my years of attending church socials and potluck dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ‘Keep your fork.’ It was my favorite part because I knew something better was coming . . . like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie. Something wonderful and with substance!’
So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder, “What’s with the fork? Then I want you to tell them, “Keep your fork . . . the best is yet to come.”
What a wonderful way to begin my visit to Duquesne. Thanks Fr. Dennis.
(I went on to write:)
I received some very sad news yesterday from my friend Lou Andriko, whose mother, Betty Andriko, had attended Sunday morning Mass at St. Joe’s. It was the type of news that hits you like a ton of bricks.
“Mom called me and said Fr. Dennis announced at Mass on Sunday morning, April 7th, that he has been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s Disease, i.e. ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) with extensive involvement of most of his voluntary motor functions; prognosis is poor, perhaps a 3 yr. survival….
With Bishop’s permission, he plans to remain at Holy Name and minister as long as possible and remain in Duquesne even afterwards until he passes.”
So many of us have been fortunate enough to witness the exuberance of the celebration of Mass with Fr. Dennis. His ability to make the congregation feel involved and joyous about Mass is unparalleled. Many of you moved from Duquesne prior to Fr. Dennis’ arrival, but may have been members of the parish that he currently shepherds or family members who still are part of the congregation. Those of other faiths should take solace in the fact that Fr. Dennis has embraced Duquesne as his home and the entire community as his family.
I invite all of you to post your thoughts and prayers for Fr. Dennis in the comment section of this post. The love and spirit that each of you have felt and shown for our hometown can certainly be demonstrated now with your prayers and petitions.
Fr. Dennis once posted a “Letter from the Pastor’s Desk” that I thought was especially meaningful. In light of the announcement he was about to make and the news that he had received, I found his strength and determination inspiring:
From the Pastor’s Desk – Christ the Light of the World Parish
For a Happier Life!
Posted on DateSaturday, April 6, 2013 at 04:01PM –
- Throw out the non-essential numbers. This includes age, weight and height.
- Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. If you really need a grouch, there probably are family members who fill that need.
- Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Just never let the brain get idle.
- Enjoy the simple things. When the children are young, that is all that you can afford. When they are in college, that is all you can afford. When they are grown, and you are on retirement, that is all that you can afford.
- Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. Laugh so much that you can be tracked in a store by your distinctive laughter.
- The tears happen. Endure, grieve, move on. The only person who is with us our entire lives, is ourselves.
- Surround yourself with what you love, whether it is family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, etc. Your home is a refuge.
- Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
- Don’t take guilt trips. Go to the mall, the next county, a foreign country, but not guilt.
- Tell the people you love, that you love them, at every opportunity.
Remember, life isn’t measured by the number of breaths we take but measured by what takes our breath away. – Fr. Dennis
So beautiful, Thank You, Jim!
SO VERY SORRY TO HEAR ABOUT THE LOSS OF THIS PASTOR. THERE WILL SEEM THAT THERE WILL BE NOBODY TO FILL HIS SHOES. BUT GOD PROVIDES AND THE NEW PASTOR WILL DO HIS BEST TO LEAD THE CONGREGATION. BLESS EACH OF YOU AS YOU HEAL FROM THE LOSS.
Father Dennis was my buddy. I just had wished he would have joined the other churches in community activities.
Sent from my iPhone
I agree, a wonderful tribute, to a wonderful priest. I have been blest to know Fr Dennis since he arrived in Duquesne. At the time, I was a member of St Joseph Parish but my mother-in law Betty Beal was very active at CLOW parish. After moving to Forward Township eight years ago, we joined a parish in Belle Vernon near our home, everyone was very nice but it just wan’t the same as Mass in Duquesne. We joined CLOW not long afterwards. We, at CLOW and St Joseph are truly blest again with Fr. Tom Lewandowski succeeding Fr. Dennis. Due to his illness, he was able to choose who would be his successor. Thank you to Fr. Tom for accepting that challenge. Fr. Tom grew up in Duquesne, his Father, Edmund, was my mailman. He has started “Duquesne Nation,” because everywhere you go, you find someone with roots in Duquesne. I invite all who read this to join “Duquesne Nation” and attend one of the masses on Saturday or Sunday. The summer schedule is as follows: 5:00PM Saturday Holy Name Worship Site; 8:30am St Hedwig’s; 10:00am Holy Name. On Sunday May 17 Bishop Zubik will be in town to install Fr. Tom 10am Holy Name; 11:45am St Joseph, again as Fr Dennis always said “All are Welcome”
Jim, Thank you for the wonderful tribute to Fr. Dennis. I couldn’t say it any better! He was such an inspiration to so many of us and I was so fortunate to work with him for 11 years. I learned so much from him and will always miss his laugh, his words of wisdom each week and his kindness to so many. Duquesne was a better place because of him for sure.
So glad The Duquesne Hunky has returned. We missed you!
What a wonderful post and tribute, Jim. He was one of the best things to ever happen to Duquesne. His rest his soul. 🙏