For 18 years as pastor of Holy Cross ”” and three more as parish administrator ”” he has presided over one of the most varied congregations in the city. In the pews at Mass, he sees actors and stagehands from the nearby Broadway theaters. He sees workers from the post office across 42nd Street. He sees bus drivers and commuters from the Port Authority Bus Terminal. He sees young Wall Street types from the new apartment buildings that tower over the old Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. And then there are the worshipers of Times Square in the 21st century: the tourists.
Father Colapietro is as distinctive as the congregation. “A Damon Runyon character in robes,” the writer Brian McDonald called him. Lili Fable, 73, a lifelong member of Holy Cross who runs the Poseidon Bakery a few blocks from the church, said he was “a character and an old-fashioned priest, all at the same time.” Newspaper writers called him “the saloon priest” ”” he was a bartender before he became a priest, and for years he was a regular at Elaine’s, the celebrity hangout on the Upper East Side that closed in 2011.