Watkins Glen native Father Richard Beligotti, 81 - Catholic Courier

Watkins Glen native Father Richard Beligotti, 81

Father Richard J. Beligotti, a priest of the Diocese of Rochester for nearly 56 years, died April 26, 2024. He was 81 years old.

Father Beligotti grew up in St. Mary of the Lake Parish in Watkins Glen. He attended the former Padua High School, a Catholic preparatory school in Watkins Glen, and went on to St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries. He was ordained by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen — in a class that included his twin brother, Father Robert Beligotti — on June 1, 1968, at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.

The well-traveled Father Beligotti logged 17 assignments during his 45 years of active ministry in the Rochester Diocese. He started his priesthood as assistant of St. Cecilia, Irondequoit (1968-71); St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin (1971-72); Immaculate Conception, Ithaca (1972-73); Holy Cross, Charlotte/Rochester (1973-77); St. Agnes, Avon (1977-81); St. Mary Our Mother, Horseheads (1981); St. Thomas More, Brighton (1981-84); St. Michael, Newark (1984-87); and St. Pius Tenth, Chili (1987-89).

In 1989, Father Beligotti began his first pastorate, at St. Charles Borromeo in Elmira Heights. After five years there, he logged an additional five years as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, Leicester/St. Lucy, Retsof. He then served as administrator of St. Bridget/St. Joseph, East Bloomfield (1999-2000); chaplain of Mercy Rehabilitation Center, Auburn (2000-01); administrator of St. John the Evangelist (Humboldt Street), Rochester (2001); pastor of St. Salome, Irondequoit (2001-07); parochial vicar of Christ the King/St. Salome/St. Thomas the Apostle, Irondequoit (2007-10); and sacramental minister for the cluster of St. Agnes, Avon/St. Paul of the Cross, Honeoye Falls/St. Rose, Lima (2010-13).

“All I can do is marvel at the amazing action of God in my life,” Father Beligotti told the Catholic Courier in 2013 upon reaching senior status, adding that he was “filled with praise and thanksgiving to God for my vocation.”

In recent years, Father Beligotti and his brother resided in Venice, Fla., where they assisted at Epiphany Cathedral.

Father Aaron Kelly, a fellow Southern Tier native, noted that he got to know the Beligotti twins beginning 11 years ago, and they became such good friends that he selected both brothers to vest him at his 2022 priestly ordination.

“It is hard to think of one without the other, but I have learned them to be very unique, especially through our correspondence,” said Father Kelly, who is currently completing studies in Rome.

“Father Richard was a very generous and thoughtful man of faith who loved the church, Jesus Christ, and being a priest,” Father Kelly added. “Almost monthly, I would receive something in the mail from Father Richard, whether it was sharing an article he found edifying, a piece of art he found beautiful or a prayer he wanted to share. I have been inspired by his genuine care and concern.”

“Father Beligotti was a generous servant of the Lord and found so much meaning in celebration of the Mass,” remarked another clergy friend, Father William Coffas, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows and Holy Cross in Greece and Rochester. “We have all come to Jesus in a deeper way because of Father Richard Beligotti. 

In addition to his brother, Father Beligotti is survived by his cousins, Ronald and Richard Sabatini; Joyce, Joan and Kathy Pierpoline; and Dino and Danny Beligotti.

Calling hours for Father Beligotti will take place beginning at 5 p.m. on May 7, 2024, at St. Mary of the Lake Church, 905 N. Decatur St., Watkins Glen. An evening prayer vigil service will begin at 6 p.m.

On May 8, 2024, viewing will resume at 9:30 a.m., with Father Beligotti’s funeral Mass to begin at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Watkins Glen.

Tags: Priests, Schuyler County News
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