I sat across the table from 90 years of priestly service last week at a pizzeria in Rush. Those years were split evenly between Fathers Richard and Robert Beligotti, twins ordained in 1968 by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen. Between bites of salad and pasta they joked with, teased and praised each other as only brothers can.
I had the pleasure of photographing the Beligottis at Rush’s St. Joseph Church for a story on their upcoming retirement, effective at the end of June. After the shoot they invited me to lunch a few steps from the church. We talked about everything from photography to travel to art and architecture. It didn’t take long to tell that they are men of many interests with a real curiosity about the world around them. But more than that, they were gracious and accommodating. They were not fazed by my slightly late arrival or my less-than-speedy light setup. They posed in several spots as I requested. And it’s not often that someone, let alone two people, will set aside an hour to be photographed and then insist on sitting down to get to know the photographer. I have a feeling this patience and caring has served them well in their many years of priesthood, as they have heard countless confessions, administered countless sacraments, comforted the sick and helped the needy.
I’m sure their enthusiasm and kindness will be missed, but, if my brief encounter with them is any indication, this unique pair has enough energy and faith to remain active in the church for years to come.
Robert (left) and twin brother Richard at Rush’s St. Joseph Church.