By Kevin Werner, News Staff
The people of Hamilton praised Bernie Morelli for his years of hard work and dedication he had for his family, friends and the residents of the city during his morning Funeral Mass Jan. 20 at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.
Family members, friends, politicians, police officers and residents of Ward 3 which he represented for nearly 23 years paid tribute to Morelli who never gave up during her long illness, and thought of others, his family, and beloved pets before himself.
“He not only said ‘I love you, I have your back,’ but he showed us with his commitment to faith, family, friends and public service,” Rev. Peter C. Ciallella said in his homily to Morelli during the nearly hour-and-a-half service. “Bernie would often say, ‘If you are not living on the edge, then you’re wasting space.’”
Even when Morelli was in St. Joseph’s Hospital, Ciallella would often visit him. The reverend would inquire about Morelli’s health, but the veteran politician would quickly turn the conversation around, asking about his friend’s health, and family.
“Bernie was not self-absorbed, or selfish – he always showed care and concern for the other,” said Rev. Ciallella.
In the ornate St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, as the cool winter’s light streamed through the stained-glass windows, where people were left standing because there was not enough seats to accommodate the number of well-wishers, Rev. Ciallella talked about Morelli’s legacy to the community, which included constructing his long-sought after seniors centre for his community. During Morelli’s last council meeting he moved a motion to have an $8-million seniors centre and recreation complex built on the former Scott Park High School location, an accomplishment that left him proud for his residents.
“One can only hope that the legacy he left behind can be carried out with a measure of passion and commitment to the degree that he demonstrated throughout his life of service,” said Rev. Ciallella.
Morelli, 70, was first elected Ward 3 councillor in 1991 after three years servicing on the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board as trustee. He had been involved in politics with the former federal Liberal MP John Munro. He had also worked for Dofasco for 25 years.
But his passion was the Hamilton Police Services Board, serving on it from 1994 to 1997, and chair in 1996. He was appointed to the board again in 2000, and chair from 2000 to 2009. He had been the chair last October when he passed away.
Morelli became ill last year, but he returned to council in August to the thunderous applause of residents, councillors and staff. At the time he felt good, although weak, ready to continue to serve his residents,
“Bernie’s humanity also shown through with the way he carried on this past year, despite his illness, always with dignity, class and grace,” said Rev. Ciallella.
“We do not say a permanent goodbye, but a farewell until we see him and our loved ones again.
“Well done,” he added. “Now it’s our turn.”
After the service, Morelli was taken to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery for interment, accompanied by a police escort alongMain Streetand with the Hamilton Police Service’s mounted unit standing guard outside the church in respect.
A reception was held later at Carmen’s Convention and Banquet Centre onStone Church Road.