A Coraopolis pastor banned news media from the funeral of the Rev. Mauro Cautela at St. Joseph Catholic Parish Dec. 15.

Representatives of the Rev. Michael A. Caridi asked a New Castle News reporter to leave the church.

One of them, who declined to give his name, cited unbalanced news coverage of a four-month state police investigation of the former Ellwood City pastor as a reason for the ban.

The Lawrence County district attorney initiated the probe in August after the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh turned over complaints to his office.

Although the diocese did not reveal the specifics of the complaints beyond calling them "serious allegations of improprieties," other sources and published reports detailed the matters as sexual and financial in nature.

The unnamed man also said the request for no news coverage came out of respect for Cautela's family.

Cautela, 57, collapsed early Dec. 10 afternoon while shopping in North Fayette Township. His uncle, Orlando Falcione, said he was not responsive when paramedics arrived and was pronounced dead at Ohio Valley General Hospital.

Bishop Donald W. Wuerl of Pittsburgh presided over the funeral liturgy. The Rev. Daniel A. Valentine, a friend and former St. Meinrad classmate of Cautela and pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in West Mifflin, gave the homily. The combined choirs of St. Joseph and Holy Redeemer performed "Ave Maria."

Cautela was the pastor at Holy Redeemer in Ellwood City from late 1992 until August.

Among the mourners who filled the church was a contingent from the Ellwood City and New Castle areas. Former parishioners remembered him as the priest who had married them, baptized their children and buried family members and loved ones.

"I loved him," said Mary Lydia Micacchione of New Castle who remembered when Cautela ministered at St. Vitus in New Castle.

She said he had a talent for making them laugh and cry with equal intensity and for inspiring people to a deeper spirituality. During the parish renewal campaign in the early 1980s, she said, "Our parish was on fire."

His home visits to take communion to her grandmother, she said, were the highlight of the older woman's week.

Born Aug. 16, 1948, in Coraopolis, Cautela attended elementary school at St. Joseph. His high school education was at St. Meinrad School and College in Indiana, where he also earned a bachelor of arts degree in 1970 and a master of divinity degree in 1974.

Cautela was ordained a priest at St. Paul Cathedral in 1974.

For the next 10 years, he served as parochial vicar at the parishes of Our Lady of Joy in Pittsburgh, St. Vitus in New Castle and St. James in Sewickley.

His first assignment as pastor was at Mother of Good Counsel Parish in Pittsburgh's Homewood area in 1984. His next post as pastor was at St. Norbert Parish in Pittsburgh's South Hills in 1989. It was about three years later that he moved to Ellwood City and became pastor of Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. He remained as pastor when Purification and St. Agatha were combined to form Holy Redeemer Parish in 2000.

After his resignation, he lived at St. John Vianney Manor in Crafton.

Throughout his 31-year career, Cautela was a master catechist for the diocese. He also served on the Priest Council, as confessor at Villa de Marillac, as a member of Catholic Charities and, for the past 10 years, was dean of all parishes in Lawrence County.

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