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Tuesday, October 6

Obituary : Paterson Priest Monsignor Thomas J. Coletta dies at 77

onsignor Thomas J. Coletta was a perfect match for Paterson’s Our Lady of Victories Church, the downtown parish he served as pastor for an astounding 27 years. The Paterson-born, Prospect Park-bred priest came from modest stock — his parents were Italian immigrants — and he felt at home among the working class, whom he was known to help out by digging into his own pockets.

Monsignor Thomas J. Coletta
Monsignor Thomas J. Coletta
“One of the great things about Coletta was that he was a city guy,” said a longtime friend, the Rev. Edward Lambro. “He was in his element and much more comfortable in Paterson than he would’ve been in, say, Franklin Lakes or Basking Ridge. And the bishops were smart enough to know that if you have something that’s working, why mess with it?”
Father Coletta, who retired in 2013, died Sunday at the Hospice of New Jersey in Wayne after a brief illness. He was 77.

“We never had a priest like Father Thomas,” said Ana Nieves, an Our Lady of Victories parishioner for more than 50 years. “He cared about everybody, especially the people with nothing to eat. He would bring food to people’s houses. He would pay the gas and electricity for people who couldn’t afford it — and with his money, not the parish’s.

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