GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Patriot Stories

January 9, 2009

Tearful goodbyes for fishermen

'Anger, confusion, all kind of feelings' surround loss of ship, men

Gloucester, and the close-knit fishing community at its core, bid tearful goodbyes yesterday to two of its adopted sons, John Orlando and his son-in-law Matteo Russo, who died early Saturday while commercial fishing on a family-owned boat.

Throughout the funeral Mass at St. Ann Church, Orlando, 59, and Russo, 36, were remembered as "Battista and Matteo."

The pair were united by Sicily, the place of their birth, by family through marriage, by faith, work and the lingering mystery surrounding their deaths together in the ocean early Saturday morning, not far from where their modern boat, the Patriot, went to the bottom.

The Rev. Ronald Gariboldi, who presided with the Rev. Timothy Harrison and Bishop Francis Irwin, representing Cardinal Sean O'Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston, spoke of the mysteries on many levels and the confused knot of feelings — "anger, confusion, all kind of feelings," he said — about the loss of the two men.

"They were experienced fishermen, on a solid vessel in weather that wasn't bad," said Ann-Margaret Ferrante, who went through school with Russo and, postponed the party that had been planned Wednesday to celebrate her swearing-in as the new state representative from the 5th Essex district.

"Intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, it didn't make sense," Ferrante said after the Mass, burial in Calvary Cemetery and collation back at St. Ann Church, whose pews were filled by family, friends, the city's political leadership and a delegation from the Coast Guard.

Chief Warrant Officer Chris Sparkman, the commanding officer of Station Gloucester, accompanied by Chief Boatswains Mate Paul Wells, walked from the station on the harbor up to the office of Mayor Carolyn Kirk and with her walked the two blocks from City Hall to the church, which filled a half hour before the 11 o'clock service.

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