After 24 years at St. Clare of Assisi Church, it is time for Rev. Richard Guarnieri to move on.
Growing up in Fordham, Guarnieri was a parishioner at the Morris Park church long before he became its pastor.
The future priest started attending St. Clare’s when he was 18, after spending a short time living on Pelham Parkway with his family.
“I always liked helping people,” Guarnieri said. “I saw very good examples of pastors and priests I grew up with, and I wanted to do what they were doing – helping the people.”
After receiving a Catholic education at Our Lady of Mercy in Fordham and attending high school and college in Manhattan, he decided to enter the priesthood, entering St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers in 1965.
Now, after four six-year terms at the parish, the 68-year-old priest is moving on.
“When you’re a pastor, the archdiocese gives you two six-year term limits,” he explained. “You have to move on after six years in the same place. For a while that rule went out of effect, but they reinstated it this past year. So, I have to go now.”
In July, the pastor will start his new journey at the Church of St. Gregory the Great in Harrison, NY.
“I will miss everything about St. Clare’s,” he said, nostalgically.
“I have been here so long, that I’ve seen generations of families come through here. Kids that were in grammar school when I got here, are now getting married. As a priest it is unusual because we don’t usually get the chance to see that happen. It’s a blessing really. You become part of their family. I’m the only pastor some of these kids know.
“I’ll miss that sense of belonging and I’ll miss the Bronx,” he said. “After all, I spent 54 years of my life here.”
He is most proud, he said of his time at St. Clare’s, at how unified the church was.
“We had a lot of problems financially and everything, but we’ve really come together to get everything resolved,” he said. “People have been very helpful. Anyone that comes to this church is welcome.
“The people here are very warm and I think that is a very beautiful thing — something I am proud of.”
Kirsten Sanchez can be reach via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 742-3394