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Monsignor Richard Bellow, a retired priest of the Diocese of Charlotte known for his love of the Eucharist, passed away peacefully Monday, Nov. 13, 2023. He was 80 years old, and he had served in priestly ministry for 53 years.
Born in the Bronx New York, Richard was the son of the late Samuel and Antoinette (Bica) Bellow. He received his education from many different institutions, St. Francis Seminary, Staten Island, NY; St. Hyacinth College & Seminary, Granby MA.; Notre Dame , where he received his Masters in Psychology. Monsignor served as a counselor and teacher at Canevin High School, Pittsburgh, PA; parish priest at St. Cyril & Methodist Catholic Church in Binghamton, NY, He also served as director at St Francis Seminary.
Ordained on May 30, 1970, Monsignor Bellow began his ministry as a Franciscan priest, teaching religion at a Catholic high school in Pittsburgh and serving at parishes in New Jersey and upstate New York before serving as director of St. Francis Seminary in Staten Island, N.Y. Then in 1987, he made the move to the Diocese of Charlotte, to be closer to his ailing mother. His first assignment in the diocese was as pastor of St. John Neumann Parish in Charlotte.
Father Richard, as many still referred to him as, served as pastor at St. John Neumann and St Gabriel before retiring in 2013, Monsignor Bellow served for nine years as pastor of St. Mark Parish in Huntersville, where he helped guide the construction of a new church building that was dedicated in 2009, fulfilling a long-standing dream for parishioners in Huntersville. Also under his leadership, Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration was inaugurated at the parish in 2011, and the Adoration Chapel was later renamed in his honor.
“If God wants me to be remembered for one thing, that’s what I want to be remembered for: being the pastor here when God did this good work in us,” he told the Catholic News Herald in 2013.
Most recently, St. Mark Parish honored its former pastor by naming a prayer garden in his honor. He was also present for St. Mark School’s 20th anniversary celebrations in October.
After 10 years, he moved to serve alongside Father Edward Sheridan at St. Gabriel Parish in Charlotte - one of the largest parishes in the diocese - before he was assigned to the growing St. Mark Parish community. Many of the sacred items that adorn the sanctuary of the Huntersville church are from the Franciscan seminary where Monsignor Bellow had received his formation.
He was known as “Father Richard” to many - that is, until 2002, when on the Feast of St. Francis, Oct. 4, then-Bishop William Curlin conferred on him the title of “Chaplain of His Holiness.” This title of distinction, given by the pope in recognition of a priest’s service to the Church, enables a cleric to be called “Monsignor.”
Monsignor Bellow was also known for staying active in his retirement, even serving as the dean of St. Mark School for some of those years. Until his passing, he offered Mass most every Saturday for Catholic residents of Arbor Ridge, the senior living community in Huntersville where he lived. He also offered Mass on Sundays at Williams Place in Davidson, lending a listening ear to those who needed it. When residents at Arbor Ridge died, he made sure to attend the funeral or memorial services - for Catholics and non-Catholics alike.
In his later years, Monsignor Bellow said he enjoyed having ample time to celebrate Mass, pray, think and meditate. He was a vocal promoter of vocations and supporter of retired priests, and he was the featured cleric on the diocese’s 2023 Priest Retirement Collection poster. His 53 years as a priest and the time he spent directing St. Francis Seminary shaped this mission for him in his later years, he said in a September 2023 interview with the Catholic News Herald.
“We still have a task to do as retired priests,” he said. “That is to pray every day to continue to bless this stage of our vocation, to bless all those who have taken our place and to pray in a special way for those who will take not only our place but their place as well. Vocations to the priesthood - that’s the most vital thing we have in the diocese.”
Besides his parents, Monsignor was preceded in death by his brother Jerome. Surviving family members is his nephew Robert Bellow, Jr; cousins Joseph and Marie Scandariato, Sr; Josephine (Bica) and Dr. Matthew Genovese; Josephine (Bica) Ricciuti and her sisters Theresa and Elizabeth. Marguerite (Bica) and Joseph Marino; Carolyn (Bica) and Tom Larson. Also surviving is his cousin John J. Cerullo, Sr, Monsignor's his confidant and loving cousin for most of Richard's life.
A Vigil will take place on Monday, November 27th from 4-8PM at St. Mark Catholic Church, 14740 Stumptown Road, Huntersville. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Tuesday, November 28th at 11AM. Interment will take place at Belmont Abbey Cemetery..