Reverend Monsignor Peter R. Riani, age 89, passed into new life on the night of Thursday, May 16, 2019 at St. Joseph’s Home in Ogdensburg.
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On Monday, May 20 at 5:30 p.m. Reverend John Yonkovig, Vicar Forane of the Adirondack Deanery, will preside over the reception of the body at St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid. Calling hours will continue until 9 p.m. and resume on Tuesday, May 21 from 9 a.m. until 10:15 a.m.
At 10:30, Most Reverend Terry R. LaValley, Bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, will celebrate the Mass of Christian Burial, with the priests of the diocese concelebrating. Reverend Monsignor Leeward J. Poissant will offer the homily. This day is Msgr. Riani’s 64th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
He will be laid to rest in Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Keeseville in the alb prepared by his grandmother for his ordination.
Peter Riani was born on August 16, 1929, the son of Peter J. and Mary (Robarge) Riani in Keeseville.
He attended Union College in Schenectady in 1946 and 1947 before beginning seminary studies at Wadhams Hall in Ogdensburg. After graduating in 1951, he attended St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore until graduating in 1955.
Most Reverend Walter P. Kellenberg, D.D. ordained Father Riani on May 21, 1955 at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Ogdensburg. Fr. Riani spent five years served as Assistant Pastor at St. Rita’s Church in Deferiet, St. Paul’s Church in Black River and St. Bernard’s Church in Saranac Lake.
Beginning in 1958, he began spending his summers attending the University of Ottawa where he received a Masters of Psychology and Education in 1963. During that time, he spent a year at Pontifical Anthenaeum Angelicum, earning a Doctorate in Theology (S.T.D.) in 1960.
He returned to Wadhams Hall as an instructor involved in the education and formation of young men considering their calling to the priesthood. This began a career spanning five decades, culminating as President-Rector of the seminary for 12 years and lecturing at other institutions such as Mater Dei College and St. Lawrence University.
In 1976, he was appointed Prelate of Honor of His Holiness, and humbly avoided use to the title Monsignor. He preferred to be called Fr. Peter or Fr. Riani.
During a hiatus, Fr. Riani was pastor of St. Agnes Church in Lake Placid from 1982 until 1985. While completing his Wadhams career, he served as pastor of St. Raphael’s Church in Heuvelton between 1988 and 1993.
He returned nearer to his hometown to serve as pastor at St. Augustine’s Church in Peru from 1993 until 1999 and then St. Elizabeth Church in Elizabethtown and St. Philip Neri Church in Westport between 2000 and his retirement in 2012. During this time, he was Dean of the Essex Deanery. He held numerous diocesan posts such as Associate Editor of the North Country Catholic and Director of Seminarians and served on many committees.
Many will remember Fr. Riani for his many world travels, love of sailing and his annual summer rental of Rock View Camp on Lake Champlain. These memories were always made with family and friends, like Reverend Richard Sturtz and many others. When Fr. Riani stopped moving, a book was always in his hand or a discussion on his lips, often involving the philosophy of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin S.J. He spent 75 years schussing down mountains on his skis, and only Parkinson’s disease robbed him of that joy.
Rev. Msgr. Peter Riani is survived by his sister-in-law, Joan Riani and brother-in-law William Turner and numerous nieces and nephews and their children. He was predeceased by his parents; brother, Richard G. Riani; sisters, Nancy McClellan and Susan Turner; brother-in-law David McClellan and nephew, Christopher J. Riani.
Fr. Riani requested no flowers be sent. Arrangements are in the care of the Fortune-Keough Funeral Home, Saranac Lake, 518-891-3613.