OLA holds farewell car parade for beloved clergy
It was a grand farewell.
On Saturday, Our Lady of Angels Church said goodbye to Monsignor Kevin Noone and Father Jason Espinal with a surprise car parade.
Noone is retiring after 50 years and Espinal has been transferred to another parish.
More than 100 cars drove to the sendoff at 5 p.m.
Harry D’Onofrio, community co-chair of OLA, 7420 Fourth Ave., helped to organize the event.
“Monsignor is an extremely low key and reserved individual,” said D’Onofrio. “Considering all of the restraints with social distancing, we were going to just sit and wait and see when was the next time we could actually do something. Then the parishioners and a few others were concerned about letting a man who has dedicated 50 years of his life and the last 11 years to Our Lady of Angels go without having some type of sendoff.”
On June 22, organizers from OLA decided to host a drive-by event. D’Onofrio asked John Quaglione, deputy press secretary of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn, and others to assist in getting the word out and do it secretly.
The day was also organized by Pam Hume, consolation minister of the Parish Planning Council. PPC member Anne D’Antuono and OLA Secretary Theresa O’Daly.
“Monsignor Noone was very surprised,” said D’Onofrio. “He was even more surprised when Bishop Raymond Chappetto arrived at the scene to actually witness the accolades he received.”
The church also said goodbye to Espinal.
“They were singing and chanting,” said D’Onofrio. “They really serenaded him to the point of tears in both their eyes. They were both truly loved by the community.”
Although D’Onofrio was surprised by the larger than expected turnout, he said that Noone means a lot to Bay Ridge.
“People just wanted to get out and see Monsignor before he left because he is headed to retirement,” he said. “It’s a testament to him and his good nature. I spoke to the rectory this morning and he could not believe how we pulled this off. He saw a tent that morning and thought someone was doing a graduation or photo shoot. But it was for him.”
The FDNY led the procession.
“The guy that drove the fire truck Saturday, Monsignor had married him and his wife in December,” said D’Onofrio. “It was fitting the fireman drove down the block to cheer us on.”
Noone was a student at OLA when he was a child.
“It came full circle,” said D’Onofrio. “He’s been a lifelong person of OLA.”
Locals also took to Facebook to say their goodbyes.
“We will miss you Msgr. Kevin Noone and Father Jason,” wrote one Facebook user. “Wishing you both the best as you begin your next journey.”
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