CRANSTON — A flowering dogwood tree was planted along side St. Mark Church, in a moving dedication ceremony on November 4 in memory of Dr. Francis Catanzaro who died two years ago.
Parishioners, friends and family members gathered at an outdoor prayer service to pay tribute to the longtime St. Mark parishioner and respected surgeon who served as Chief of Surgery at both St. Joseph and Our Lady of Fatima hospitals. Catanzaro also served as a trustee of the parish and lector.
He was the husband of Vonnie Catanzaro and the father of four children.
The physician’s daughter, Diane Catanzaro, placed a shovel of dirt at the tree’s base before Father Anthony W. Verdelotti, pastor of St. Mark Church, blessed the tree with prayers and by sprinkling holy water.
The service was led by Dr. Catanzaro’s long time friend, Frank Williams of Forrest Hills Nursery, who donated the tree. “It is my hope that this tree serves as a lasting remembrance as the years go by of a man who gave strength and life to so many,” said Williams.
Catanzaro was credited not simply for his role at the two Rhode Island Catholic hospitals, but for also living out his Hippocratic Oath, and his unwavering commitment to living out his Catholic faith.
Under his direction, surgical practices at the two Catholic hospitals was revamped, as he fought diligently for years to make it a requirement for surgeons practicing at the two facilities to have board certification—thus improving the safety of surgery and quality of care for patients.
“He was truly an old fashioned doctor — never above making house calls and often treating poor patients pro bono,” said his daughter Diane Catanzaro.
“I think of him every day. Today speaks to how others think of him too,” she continued.
“So long as this tree brings forth bud and leaf, the memory of Dr. Catanzaro will live on in the hearts and minds of our community,” Williams concluded.