By Jessica Easthope
Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello wears many hats and now he has a new one, it’s white and part of a Deputy Fire Chief’s uniform.
Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello was sworn in Monday at FDNY Headquarters as the newest chaplain for 17,000 of New York’s Bravest, a job he says at its core requires him to be exactly what he is – a priest.
“If you want something done, give it to a busy person. Really the most important things that I do are priestly things, being there for people ministering to them in times of tragedy and suffering and I always make time for that,” said Msgr. Jamie.
In recent weeks, the city has been in mourning after several tragic fires, including one in the Bronx that took the lives of 17 people. Every victim was part of the Muslim community, but Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro says the Catholic Church showed its willingness and strength in reaching out to those of other faiths.
“It doesn’t matter what the families were, our Catholic chaplains were up there helping them even though these families were members of the Islamic faith. The religious community is always there for the people of the city,” Commissioner Nigro said.
With his retirement days away, Commissioner Nigro’s last official act was bringing in Msgr. Jamie, someone he says will be a channel of peace for not only the members of the department, but their own families and the entire city.
“They’re with us on our good days and they tell us this is a blessing from God and on our most dark days they’re with families and tell them despite a tragedy that God will remain with them, it’s just so valuable to the department, I couldn’t picture the department existing without chaplains,” he said.
Msgr. Jamie says during the times he’s been there for members of the department, families and victims in an unofficial capacity, he’s seen how God allows people to come together.
“We’re known to be right now a divided city but when it comes to tragedy and people suffering we are so united,” Msgr. Jamie said. “We come together as a city and we come together as a church and it doesn’t matter what faith you are because we all believe in one God and we unite our forces and let people know you’re not alone.”
He now joins seven other chaplains serving the department.