Honoring Father Francis Gargani, CSsR

Father Francis Gargani, CSsRThe Center at Mariandale will honor Father Francis Gargani, CSsR, at the Hope Harvest Festival at Mariandale on Sunday, October 15, 2023.

Francis Gargani is a member of the Roman Catholic Religious Order of Brothers and Priests, the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, commonly known as “The Redemptorists,” since professing vows in 1965.  Ordained in 1971 he has been serving in the presbyteral ministry for fifty-two years, presently based in the Redemptorist Provincial House in Washington, DC, serving on his East Coast Province Evangelization Team.  A graduate of his Mt. Vernon, NY parish Sacred Heart school whose “super” Mercy Sisters Francis credits for his love of learning, he proceeded to spend the next four years at Mt. St. Michael Academy in the Bronx, where the Marist Brothers provided him, in his estimation, a “first-class” academic formation..   After seminary,  Francis began ministerial life in earnest in Redemptorist parishes in Saratoga Springs and Pittsburgh.  He then pursued post-graduate studies in Ritual and Liturgical Studies at Catholic University of DC.   Following these studies,  Francis truly enjoyed his time as a campus minister at Old Dominion University of Norfolk, Virginia for seven years.

Coming back to the Hudson Valley to serve as a retreat director at the Redemptorist former Theology seminary, then a retreat center, in Esopus, NY, Francis began his connection with Mariandale.   Mary Mitchell, OP, trained and supervised Francis as he embarked on Directed Retreats here at Mariandale in 1993-1994.   Under Mary Mitchell’s tutelage, and a team of “superstars,” in Francis’ words, including Charity Sister Margaret Ellen Burke and Mercy Sister Assunta Boyle, Francis began offering Directed Retreats in 1994 at the Esopus retreat center, under the guidance of Mercy Sister Janet Ruffing, then outstanding Director of the Spirituality Program at Fordham.  Francis began joining the Directed Retreat team here at Mariandale in the summer of 2000 and then served on the Holy Week team here at Mariandale from 2001 until the present, through the generous invitation of St. Joseph Sister, Jeanne McGrory.   When  Sisters Nancy Erts and Linda Rivers joined the Mariandale staff, Francis began the Mariandale Saturday Vigil Mass together with them.   Even after Francis moved on from the South Bronx’s Redemptorist Immaculate Conception parish, Francis continued to monthly serve as presider for our Saturday Eucharistic Community, as well as retreat director and on the Holy Week team for another ten years.   The latter presence on the Holy Week team continues, though Francis now resides in Washington, as well as teaming on various Directed Retreats through these last four years of his Washington residency.

Francis’ many other meaningful collaborations include:  facilitating retreats for the homeless through the Interfaith Assembly on Housing and Homelessness; providing a home with the Redemptorists for the first five years of America’s only Black Poets Society, Cave Canem; founding, with Chris Reilly, the New York Chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians; serving on the Board of Pax Christi Metro New York , and then as its President, for well over ten years; teaching at “One Spirit” Interfaith Seminary for over ten years, awarded their “Service to Humanity Award”;  ministering with Congregation of Notre Dame Sr. Kathleen Deignan through the Institute of Spirituality of Iona University of New Rochelle, and then through the Deignan Institute on Earth and Spirit of Iona; serving as priest-presider in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, for the wonderful “Our Lady of Charity” Black Catholic Community, for over ten years;  also serving as a proud member of the Justice & Peace Ministry of Bayside, Queens’ Sacred Heart Community, the intentional community of “Emmaus” of Stamford, Connecticut, the intentional community founded by Sr. Deignan and Fr. John Guiliani, “The Grange,” and NOVA, another intentional community of northern Virginia.  Francis led a group of LGBTQ+ pilgrims to be greeted by newly-elected Redemptorist Joseph Cardinal Tobin at the stunning Newark Cathedral, and continues to support the New Jersey Collaborative of LGBTQ+ Ministry.  Francis collaborates with Lucy Burich McNamara and the over one-hundred members of the Redemptorist Associate Program, from the Caribbean to Boston, also serving, as well, on the Redemptorist North American Councils on Racial Equity and the Integrity of Creation.

In summary, Francis Gargani has blessed the Mariandale community as a presider, preacher, liturgist, spiritual director, and program presenter.  His remarkable giftedness in each of these roles, coupled with his compassionate and magnetic presence, make him much loved in the Mariandale community. Likewise, Francis’ ardent commitments to the poor, to peace and justice, especially to lifting up women, LGBTQ brothers and sisters and all those marginalized in the church,  is a brilliant sign of Hope, making him very worthy of this honor.

Watch this one-minute video, below, about Father Francis and his long and multi-disciplinary relationship with Mariandale.

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