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Deacon served 28 years in Omaha

Deacon Ernest Gencarelli

Deacon Ernest Gencarelli, whose 28 years of service included helping with baptisms, weddings and other ministries at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Omaha and working extensively with troubled youth, died Nov. 10. He was 90.

Deacon Gencarelli’s funeral was Nov. 16 at St. Leo the Great Church in Omaha. Burial will be in Rhode Island, where Deacon Gencarelli grew up and many family members are buried.

John Gencarelli, director of faith formation at St. John Vianney Parish in Omaha and a member of St. Leo the Great Parish, said his father’s primary mission as a deacon was helping children. He was a clown with a ministry titled Rainbows that assisted children from broken or abusive families and he worked with teens addicted to drugs and alcohol at a treatment center in Omaha.

Deacon Marty Crowley, who also serves St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, said Deacon Gencarrelli was passionate about helping children.

"That was one thing he really loved," he said.

Deacon Gencarelli suffered from diabetes, and lost both his legs to the disease. But he "always had a good attitude," John Gencarelli said, and with the help of prostheses continued to walk up to three miles a day on a treadmill.

Ordained in 1987, health difficulties prompted Deacon Gencarelli to step away from active ministry about nine years ago, and in 2008 he moved to an assisted living facility.

Deacon Gencarelli was preceded in death by his wife, Eva, and daughters, Paula and Anna and Theresa Gencarelli Morin.

In addition to his son, John, and daughter-in-law Dawn, survivors include his daughter Linda, and daugther and son-in-law Rose and David Bordwell, all of Omaha, and son Ernest Jr. of Glenwood, Iowa; five grandchildren and a great-grandchild; a brother and sister-in-law, Michael and Rose Gencarelli of Westerly, R.I.; nieces and nephews.

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