Sen. John J. Marchi, whose 50-year record as a state senator representing Staten Island, N.Y., was Catholic in every way, died Saturday in Lucca, Italy, where he was on vacation. He was 87, and the longest-serving legislator in New York when he retired in 2006.
Senator Marchi (pronounced MAR-key), who opposed both abortion and the death penalty, was the only layman ever to receive the John Cardinal O'Connor Award for Extraordinary Service.
I was at the 2007 Public Policy Day in Albany when Cardinal Edward Egan presented the award to Sen. Marchi, as the senator's wife, Maria Luisa, and family looked on. It was both touching and inspiring to listen to the long record of service of a man who was praised not only for his commitment to his state, country and Church but to his family as well.
"His love of God enabled him to see our Lord’s face in everyone, rich or poor, black or white, man or woman. It enabled him to recognize the dignity of every human person, whether it be the unborn child in her mother’s womb, the child in the failing public school, the homeless man without a place to lay his head at night, or the prisoner on death row. This love of our Lord is, I dare say, the driving force in his stellar record of advocacy on behalf of all of these New Yorkers, and others," Cardinal Egan said at the 2007 event.
"He stood up for life, he stood up for Catholic education, he stood up for the poor and the sick and the elderly. He stood strongly and resolutely, even when he was told there could be a political price to pay. For that, Senator, I say, Thank you."
To read the full New York Times obituary, click HERE.