Deacon Michael Campanelli; served in Elmira
Deacon Michael J. Campanelli Jr., who served parishes in eastern Elmira throughout his diaconal ministry, died July 14, 2003, at his home following a long illness. He was 72 years old.
Deacon Campanelli was an Elmira native who grew up in St. Mary’s Parish. After marrying his wife, Gilda, at age 18, he joined St. Anthony’s Parish. He was a letter carrier for the U.S. Postal Service for 10 years and in 1966 began a 23-year career as a loan officer and manager with Chemung Canal Trust Co. He volunteered with Family Debt Counseling Service and was president of its board.
His penchant for guiding people through their problems led to the permanent diaconate, his wife said. “Even when we got married at 18, people were coming over for advice,” Gilda Campanelli remarked.
Upon his 1986 ordination Deacon Campanelli began ministering part-time at St. John the Baptist/St. Cecilia parishes, which his family had joined in 1984. His duties increased following his 1989 retirement from the bank, and in 1990 his ministry expanded to Ss. Peter and Paul Parish when it was clustered with St. John/St. Cecilia.
Deacon Campanelli retired from active ministry in 1995, yet he stayed involved in spite of being slowed by bad legs, diabetes and open-heart surgery. In 1992 he had begun a ministry in which he distributed prayer requests to shut-ins who prayed for people’s intentions. He also continued his “From the Deacon’s Corner” column for Ss. Peter and Paul Parish (St. Cecilia and St. John the Baptist had closed in 1998), writing inspirational messages and always signing off “Love you all, Deacon Mike.”
“A year ago he lost use of his kidneys and was on dialysis. And he still ministered,” Gilda Campanelli said.
The prayer ministry “reflected Deacon Mike’s desire to continue serving the Lord and his people to the best of his ability,” said Father Patrick Connor, pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish, who had ministered with Deacon Campanelli since 1992. The bulletin columns, Father Connor added, allowed the deacon “to stay connected and gave all of us a chance to benefit from his faith and goodness.”
His 95-year-old father, Michael J. Campanelli Sr., had died in Florida just five days prior to Deacon Campanelli’s own death. In addition to his wife, Deacon Campanelli is survived by his children, Steven (Jane), Daniel (Debbie) and Michael R. (fiancee Roseann Robbins) Campanelli; daughters, Laura (Kip) Lowe and Nancy (Michael) Murphy; sisters, Dolores Hamilton and Jean (Joseph) Spahalski; 12 grandchildren; five step-grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and nieces and nephews.
His funeral Mass was celebrated July 17, 2003, at Ss. Peter and Paul Church. Father Joseph Hart, diocesan vicar general, presided, with Fathers Connor and Richard T. Farrell concelebrating, and Deacons Stanley Douglas and George Welch assisting. Interment was at Ss. Peter and Paul Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made to the Parish Center Building Fund, Ss. Peter and Paul Church, 161 High St., Elmira, NY 14901.