Elizabethtown, Westport church leader stepping down

Father Riani to retire after 13 years at the two parishes

Father Peter Riani announced that he will retire in September.

Father Peter Riani announced that he will retire in September. Photo by Keith Lobdell.

— Riani also said he was pleased with how well the local churches of different faiths have worked together for the benefit of the community.

Along with serving the two churches, Riani also had the responsibility of working with the Elizabethtown Community Hospital, Horace Nye Nursing Home and Essex County Jail to provide services when needed.

“I have told the diocese that whoever you decide to send here, they have to be prepared to take on that responsibility,” Riani said.

A life of service

Father Riani was born and grew up in Keeseville, where he graduated from high school.

“I still remember playing basketball in the small gym here in Elizabethtown where you would always run into the walls,” he said.

Riani has spent 57 years in the Priesthood after his ordination on May 21, 1955, being educated at Wadhams Hall in Ogdensburg, St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland, the University of Ottawa, Union College and the Pontifical Athenaeum Angelicum in Rome, Italy.

He spent over 30 years at Wadhams Hall, starting as an instructor and working through the ranks of associate professor, professor, lecturer, Dean of Students, Vice President, Academic Dean and then President from 1974 until 1982.

He was an assistant pastor at St. Paul’s in Black River and St. Bernard’s in Saranac Lake before his time at Wadhams Hall. Afterward, he was the pastor for St. Agnes in Lake Placid from 1982 until 1985, St. Raphael’s in Heuvelton from 1988 until 1993 and St. Augustine’s in Peru from 1993 until 1999.

“I have really enjoyed it. One thing about the priesthood is that you never get bored. There is always something going on,” Riani said.

Riani also had the chance to be one of 30 chaplains for the 1980 Winter Olympic Games in Lake Placid, where he stayed with the others at the empty convent in Saranac Lake.

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