Reverend Monsignor Mark Giordani, known as Paterson’s motorcycle priest, has died.
Parishioners mourned Giordani’s death after it was announced during a Mass celebration at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Paterson on Saturday evening. He was 78 years old.
Giordani founded the Christian Riders, a motorcycle club that still meets in the St. John’s rectory, in 1969 after his first assignment at his first parish, Our Lady of Lourdes in Paterson.
For 50 years, Giordani and his annual Motorcycle Mass brought bikers in from all over for a blessing of motorcycles in front of the Paterson church where he was rector from 1987 until 2018.
On the 49th anniversary of the Motorcycle Mass, Giordani, stepping off his Harley Road King, decorated with flames and an airbrushed depiction of Jesus on the cross, traded his denim jacket for white and blue vestments to greet and bless motorcyclists as they road past.
The Rev. John Algera, who was a pastor for 40 years at Madison Avenue Christian Reformed Church, often crossed paths with Giordani and always appreciated his “big view of the church.”
“It was bigger than just the Roman Catholic church, it was the church of Jesus,” said Algera. “He was a great wonderful Christian leader in this time when we need examples of godly Christian men like that.”
One of Algera’s favorite memories of Giordani was a time when Algera was standing in a crowd during a Stations of the Cross ceremony on Good Friday. Giordani, who was walking in the procession, stepped away when he spotted Algera in the crowd to give him a big hug.
“It was so indicative of the kind of person he was,” said Algera. “He loved the city, he loved his people, he was loved by Jesus. He was well appreciated by everyone.”
Mayor André Sayegh said Giordani was a source of spiritual strength for so many people.
“Father Mark Giordani inspired us with his words and his work,” Sayegh said. “I am grateful to God for blessing Paterson with such a magnificent man of the cloth.”
The Rev. James Kuykendall, who became friends with Giordani 20 years ago when they started working together as chaplains to the Paterson Police Department, considered him a dear friend and a wonderful mentor. He said Giordani’s sensitive and caring nature for those around him “will forever be remembered in my heart.”
“He was a stand-up guy, walking integrity,” said Kuykendall. “He had a compassion for the people and he had a love for God. He will forever be dear to me.”
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In addition to the Paterson Police Department and Port Authority, Giordani served as chaplain for the Boy Scouts, Chaplain for the Haledon Police and Fire Departments, Passaic County Sheriff’s Department, Passaic County Jail, Constables Association, Passaic County Police Academy and the Fidelians in North Haledon for many years.
He worked as an assistant pastor and later an administrator and co-pastor at St. Gerard Majella Parish in Paterson from 1973 until 1987. He also served as an administrator at Saint Agnes Church in Paterson from 2002 to 2007.