Good Night Sweet Gabe

It is with sadness, but confidence that I entrust here to the mercy of God the soul of Gabriel Altieri, a father figure, a spiritual son and a great friend.  After a long fight with cancer, Gabriel passed away in the Lord and the Immaculate yesterday around 2:00 PM. He was a long time friend of the community in Griswold, Connecticut and a faithful son of the Immaculate.  Please pray for the repose of his soul and the strength of his family and friends, especially his wife, Ruthy.

It might be a bit ironic to call such an old salt “sweet Gabe.”  He had a conversion late in life after many years of “being a hard man,” and he was just as uncompromising in virtue as he had been in the ways of the world.  But he was as easily brought to tears by compunction or devotion as he was to fierce zeal in the face of heresy and cowardice.

As a result of his rather colorful, Italianate pronouncements on everything from the beauty of our Lady, to the state of the nation, to food recipes (he was an excellent cook, and a great culinary teacher), as well as his escapades at the Father, Son Encampments (pictured above), we came to know him as “Sir Gabriel.”  We threatened many times to put him on camera and start up a channel on Youtube in order for him to deliver his daily address to the world on whatever topic was stuck in his craw.  But alas, this never came to pass.  We will all have to satisfy ourselves in the retelling of the many tales of “Sir Gabriel.”

But I will remember him most for his loyalty to Christ, the Church and those he loved, and the honest and simple zeal for souls that made him fearless.  For his past life, about which he told everyone, he never ceased trying to make amends.  Like St. Paul, he came to count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord (Phil 3:8).  He was not afraid to die or to talk about death.  He knew his destiny and wished to fulfill it.  Gabriel was single-minded.

In the last few years we saw him at the friary less and less, and he was greatly missed. While I was in the States recently I made a point of seeing him at home.  He was emaciated but cheerful.  He was getting ready to go home and that is what he wanted to talk about.  It was the last time I saw or spoke to him.  I am glad I did not let the opportunity pass me by.  Providentially, I was able to offer the Holy Sacrifice for him both shortly before and after his passing.

Lest I be misunderstood I must say that it is very necessary to pray for the repose of Gabe. He was a better man than most of us at the end of his life, but he would have been the last to think that.  He was a penitent.  And I know he would be very grateful if those who cared about him adhered to doctrine of the Church and practice the spiritual work of mercy called “praying for the dead.”  Not that God would allow it, but I think that if Gabriel had the opportunity he would come back and haunt anyone who had the audacity to canonize him.  And I would not want to be haunted by Sir Gabriel.

Gabriel was a man’s man and he learned to channel his virility–not repress it, as our culture would have men do–under the patronage of Our Lady.  He lived the grace of Marian Chivalry.  I am proud to have known him and graced to be able to call him a true Knight of Lepanto.


Just before I press “publish”: I opened an email a moment ago from a friend offering me condolences on the loss of our mutual friend.  He writes: “I will miss him, as I’m sure you will also. He’s probably already raising hell in heaven, if that were possible!”


15 thoughts on “Good Night Sweet Gabe

  1. Thank you Father, you know better than anyone Gabriels heart. What a great person of God he truly was. Stories of Gabriel are abundant, he will be missed beyond words and always close to our hearts. These truly are sad days for all who knew Gabriel, but seriously, just think of Gabriels response when he sees Our Lady and Our Lord, priceless.

  2. A wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. He will be greatly missed by us all. He has certainly fought the good fight in these past years during which we were privileged to know him! Our condolences to you, Father, and to his loving family, and especially Ruth. Eternal rest, grant to him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him. May he and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

  3. Yes, Father, thank you for your post. Our family will miss Gabe terribly as well. What a great picture of him to use! Funny because as we left Mass yesterday morning Charles asked me what was so funny, I had been praying for Gabe and this is exactly the image that had popped into my head! He was truly Our Lady’s Knight, and he was an incredible prayer warrior. Dear Gabe, please pray us all home! Funny Carol, I keep trying to imagine the moment he first sees Our Lord and Our Lady too. As sad as I am at his passing, I am filled with incredible joy at that thought! Rest in peace dear Gabe, and know how honored I have been to call you friend. You are truly an inspiration to us all!

  4. That was a nice post, Father. Please accept my condolences for the loss of a friend — but always a reason to persevere in this life because in addition to hopefully being in heaven with Our Lord and His Mother, there will surely be a bunch of really fun, faithful people to spend eternity with!

    I did not know Gabriel nearly as well as all the MIM —- but we exchanged Italian recipes a number of times and he let me know what he thought of my version of mutual recipes! lol

  5. My heartfelt condolences to everyone who called Gabe “friend”. My prayers to all the beautiful family members whom Paul and I met Saturday while visiting Gabe. And to Ruth…you are a lovely lady. Our prayers to you in this time of sorrow.

    Gabe…valiant to the end!! Bravo!!

  6. From teaching us how to lay stone, to how to live our spiritual lives properly, to giving us advice in our earthly lives, Gabriel was always a mentor and I’m sure helped many of the young men who would come to the friary through some difficult times. He was always gruff, and was hard on us in a good way, but always cared for us, that we could see clearly. He had a huge impact on many of our lives. I’m sure some of his advice and habits rubbed off and made me the man I am today. He also had a great secret family recipe for venison sausage that he imparted onto me before he passed. Great man, glad to have known him

  7. Simply, I am honoured to have met such a man of faith and zeal. Brother Gabriel’s visits to the Friary in Griswold is definitely one of the many, many fond things I remember during my time there as a Novice.

    Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord
    and let perpetual light shine upon him.
    May he rest in peace. Amen.
    May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed,
    through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

  8. Yes, thank you, Father. I knew you would pen the perfect words. Gabe was a walking tribute to the power of repentance, and a bill board for the corporal works of mercy. He lent an uncommon air of character to the grounds in Griswold, and brought it on the road to dozens of parishes around Rhode Island and Connecticut during his time with The Day With Mary apostolate. He looked like any number of tough, stalwart characters you might call to mind… yet, beneath the brim of his trademark fedora, he could rim his eyelids with tears when he waxed tenderly about Christ and Our Lady and their great love and mercy for him and for all of us. It still seems strange to think he is really gone. I wonder if the MIM will ever be the same? Actually, at the risk of presuming his whereabouts– and fully taking Gabe’s penchant for combat into account– we might sincerely wonder the same now for heaven! Let’s pray for the dear souls, behind him and in front of him, waiting in line at the gate… They had better have their scapulars on!

  9. Truly a man of Our Lady. He was truly Her Knight. I am so happy to have known him throughout the years I’ve been going to the Friary in Griswold. Rest In the Peace of Christ, Brother!

  10. Gabriel Altieri was my Marine Corps father. I had made fast friends with his son James during our time in the Corps and over my many trips up to Rhode Island he came to accept me as a member of his family. I mourn his passing for the void it leaves in our lives but honor him for the love and pride he had in his family. I will always carry his words of wisdom and faith in my heart and make my path more straight and true. Until we meet again I know he will be looking over us , yes advising the Lords angels how best to do their jobs protecting us. If they’re smart they will heed his words. Semper Fidelis Gabriel Altieri , Semper Fidelis .

  11. Ave Maria!

    Farewell Sir Gabriel! Or should that be Sir Gabalot? It was always a pleasure talking to Gabe, never a loss for words 🙂 and he will be missed by me and all who knew him. I wish I could have been at the funeral. My prayers are with him and his family. Godspeed on your journey home dear Gabe.

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