The Catholic-friendly New York Times has a story about a popular priest, Fr. Peter Colapietro, who is being reassigned to a new parish. It's a good read.
The Rev. Peter Colapietro was playing down the fuss -- the goodbyes from the neighborhood people, the Mass scheduled for Sunday to celebrate his years at Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church, in the shadow of Times Square. "I'm just moving to the East Side," he said.
For 18 years as pastor of Holy Cross -- and three more as parish administrator -- he has presided over one of the most varied congregations in the city. In the pews at Mass, he sees actors and stagehands from the nearby Broadway theaters. He sees workers from the post office across 42nd Street. He sees bus drivers and commuters from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He sees young Wall Street types from the new apartment buildings that tower over the old Hell's Kitchen neighborhood. And then there are the worshipers of Times Square in the 21st century: the tourists.
Father Colapietro is as distinctive as the congregation. "A Damon Runyon character in robes," the writer Brian McDonald called him. Lili Fable, 73, a lifelong member of Holy Cross who runs the Poseidon Bakery a few blocks from the church, said he was "a character and an old-fashioned priest, all at the same time." Newspaper writers called him "the saloon priest" -- he was a bartender before he became a priest, and for years he was a regular at Elaine's, the celebrity hangout on the Upper East Side that closed in 2011.
In a crowded restaurant or a crowded sanctuary, he would be hard to miss. He stands 6 feet tall and says he weighs 325 pounds. "I probably gained about 70 pounds here," he says, sipping bottled water in the kitchen of the rectory. "I have nobody else to blame but myself because it's my own cooking."