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Was sidewalk tribute to Pastor Diane Dunne vandalized?

BY CHARLEY CRESPO | “Someone vandalized the tribute I made to Pastor Diane,” charged Catherine Jones Galante. “I reported it to the police on Thursday and asked them to use their camera surveillance to find the person or persons who did it. I want them arrested.”

Catherine Jones Galante has been putting up smaller memorial elements to Pastor Dunne after a larger memorial she created mysteriously vanished. (Photo by Charley Crespo)

Dozens of poor and homeless residents of the East Village and Lower East Side were shocked when they came to Tompkins Square Park on Saturday afternoon. Pastor Diane Dunne‘s volunteer team, gathered in grief, informed the community that Dunne, who launched the weekly food distribution there in 1987, had died suddenly at home in Long Island on Friday night/Saturday morning.

This tribute to Pastor Dunne, which included information about the Saturday memorial, was removed not long after it was erected on Wednesday. (Photo by Charley Crespo)

According to the pastor’s brother, Ken Dunne, the cause of death remains unknown, but the family believes it was a heart attack.

Pastor Diane Dunne. (Courtesy Hope for the Future Ministries)

Galante describes herself as a servant of Reverend Dunne and said she assisted her with the food distributions. Galante spent a day creating elaborate signage as a tribute. She decorated the signage with numerous Christian images, lists of Dunne’s charitable works and messages of love and sorrow. The graphics included gold stars, paper flowers, costume jewelry and glitter. The signage also invited the public to a memorial service there this Saturday at 4 p.m.

On Tuesday evening, Galante began hanging the signage on the fence along Avenue A near where Dunne conducted her ministry to the poor and homeless for the past 33 years. Galante said she returned several times on Wednesday to add fruit, candles and other items to the sidewalk tribute. But the tribute was gone when she returned there on Thursday morning.

“It took me an hour and a half just to hang the signs,” she said. “I used a whole roll of wire. It took someone a lot of work to take it off the fence.”

Scraps of ribbon, tape and other remnants indicate that it was not the Department of Parks and Recreation that removed the tribute. Their job would have been more thorough.

Galante has also been chalking messages on the ground about the memorial. (Photo by Charley Crespo)

The signage said that the Saturday memorial was sponsored by Graffiti Church, Street Life Ministries and “all community family.” On Wednesday evening, however, Pastor Taylor Field of Graffiti Church, at 205 E. Seventh St., said he had heard about the proposed memorial from someone in the neighborhood but that the event was not directly affiliated with his church. Taylor had not seen the posted signage, but remarked that he felt it spoke of “the tremendous work Pastor Diane had done in the community.”

Neither Dunne’s immediate family nor her ministry in Farmingdale, Long Island, knew about the signage or its announcement of a memorial service until informed by this reporter on Wednesday evening, according to Ken Dunne.

Dunne’s Hope for the Future Ministries Web site announced her death on Sunday and posted on Monday that a memorial service for the pastor would be planned for Tompkins Square Park. But since then, the Web site has not been updated with further information. Ken Dunne informed this reporter on Wednesday evening, “We will be planning something for next week.”

Meanwhile, Galante continues building smaller tributes at the same location. She announced the memorial service again by writing it in chalk on the ground.

3 Comments

  1. Cathy Jones Galante Cathy Jones Galante November 8, 2020

    Great write up, Charley! I truly appreciate all your work and research in this matter. Pastor Dianne meant the world to me. She was like family. Now, I have no family. I hope my mom and the pastor are dancing for Jesus and singing, they loved singing worship music for the Glory of God! Thank you so much again! Great job, Charley! My face book page is Cathy Jones
    Christstrong https://m.facebook.com/LIVE2BKIND/
    And let’s keep in contact I now need to redirect people where to find food. Will be making new poster just for information.
    Again, thank you for your excellent work for our community outreach and resource information.
    Check Village East Neighbors on Facebook, they are a great site to get information to current events. God bless you, Charley!

    • Cathy Jones Galante Cathy Jones Galante November 8, 2020

      Correction, Facebook East Village Neighbors

  2. Debbie Terry Debbie Terry December 12, 2020

    I knew Diane when we were both a part of street ministry with World Challenge Ministries in 1986 (?), and she was a force to be reckoned with back then! I only knew her for 6 months, but I never forgot her!

    I can still hear her thick Brooklyn accent and her contagious laugh, but more than that, I remember her huge heart!

    Diane’s love for people was clearly a verb – ACTION!

    Street witnessing was something I had never done. I flew to NYC from the West Coast by myself – 21 years old and shy. Diane took me under her wings and made me feel safe and “a part of.” It would have been an entirely different experience for me in NY had she not been there. I am so grateful to her that she was!

    When I first learned that Diane started “Hope for the Future Ministries,” I was not surprised at all! That’s the kind of person I knew her to be!

    Recently I decided to “Google” Diane to see what she may have been up to, if I could. The moment I typed in her name and the usual didn’t pop up, my heart sank and my first thought was that she died. I had no reason to think that, but I did.

    Then I clicked on a link and saw the words that she had died in her sleep, my heart sank! It felt as though electricity flowed through my body the moment I saw those words. I couldn’t believe it! Tears flowed down my face! I hadn’t seen or talked with Diane in 38 years, but she remained close to my heart!

    It must be hard for her family to not know definitively what caused Diane’s death, but I hope that even still, they are at peace. I’m sure that Diane is rejoicing right now in heaven!

    I’m sure that it is Diane’s hope that the ministry she started would not stop just because she’s not around – Diane would be heart-broken if no one stepped up to carry on her work – God’s work!

    Sincerely,
    In Love and Honor for one of God’s beautiful servants, Diane Dunne!
    Debbie T.

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