Equipped with jokes and good-natured jabs, a panel of roasters gave a local priest some hell Sunday to raise money for the American Cancer Society.
“He does love to be the baby at every baptism, the bride at every wedding and, yes, the corpse at every funeral,” the Rev. Patrick McLaughlin joked of the Rev. Joseph Sica, a bladder cancer survivor and 37-year priest in the Diocese of Scranton who smiled and took each joke in stride during the fourth annual Coaches vs. Cancer roast organized by Scranton High School.
About 350 people packed La Buona Vita to hear Sica comically skewered, including U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples, a beloved friend of Sica who stayed for part of the event.
Balancing their zingers with praise for his loyalty and willingness to help others, the roasters joked about Sica’s upbringing in Dunmore’s Bunker Hill section, proclivity for guns and relationship with late organized crime boss Russell Bufalino.
North Pocono Superintendent Bryan McGraw, one of the roasters, jokingly asked whose idea it was to “roast a priest with mob ties on Sunday in his hometown a mile from a landfill.”
“We’re supposed to be raising money to save people’s lives, and instead we’re going to kill somebody, probably me,” McGraw quipped before producing a fake but comically long list of Sica’s parish assignments that stretched across half the room.
In addition to Evie Rafalko McNulty, who served as mistress of ceremonies, other roasters included longtime local basketball coach Canio Cianci, Dunmore Superintendent John Marichak, businessman Ron Cordaro, former Scranton Mayor Jim Connors and Monsignor Joseph Kelly.
Joking about the size of Sica’s nose, Kelly said he could smoke a cigar in the shower.
“I told Father Sica I wanted to be a priest,” Connors quipped. “But I couldn’t stand the long hour.”
All joking aside, the roast raised at least $35,000 for the American Cancer Society between ticket sales and support from the local business community.
The significance of the figure wasn’t lost on Sica, who devoted a portion of his rebuttal at the end of the night to thank everyone in attendance for supporting the cause. Thanking his doctor, Donald Preate Jr., M.D., Sica spoke as a cancer survivor and urged the crowd to live the best lives they possibly can.
“Life is what we do with the time we’ve been given,” Sica said. “The time to live is now. The time to laugh is now. The time to work is now. The time to pray is now. ... Take life and realize it’s not measured in hours or minutes, but life is measured in memories and moments.”