NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — He’s prayed for so many, and now a priest on Staten Island is relying on the prayers of others to save his life.
The 41-year-old has Stage 4 kidney disease and is in desperate need of a donor.READ MORE: NYPD Lieutenant Shot In Ankle Apprehending Suspect In The Bronx
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reported Thursday, Rev. Angelo Micciulla is humble, even after doctors told him he could go into kidney failure very soon.
“Everything is a gift from God,” he said. “Even though it sounds weird, where you got a disease, it opens you up to other avenues to help other people and to commiserate and support one another.”
Nearly 2,000 families at the Church of the Holy Family on Staten Island learned of his situation in May. Father AJ, as they call him, they say is a blessing.
“We were all kind of shocked because he’s such a young man. He’s vibrant. He lives his life,” said parishioner Suzanne Dascher. “I have three boys… Their favorite thing to say is my pastor rides a motorcycle and he’s got tattoos and a big beard, but he also will guide them spiritually.”
Ironically, with a change in exercise and diet during the pandemic, he dropped around 50 pounds. Doctors said he could get off his Type 2 diabeters medication. But in February, bloodwork came back showing he had Stage 4 kidney disease.
“I’m not a very vain person, or very out there. It’s hard to when you have to ask for help,” Micciulla said.READ MORE: Justice Department Says Russians Hacked Federal Prosecutors
His blood type is O positive, and he needs a kidney donor soon. Otherwise he will go on dialysis, and a years long wait list. Father Micciulla says a living donor could extend his life around 20 years.
The church has started a campaign called “Share Your Spare” to help find him a kidney.
“I’m just a simple parish priest, so to all these people, and honestly have people from different states now calling and trying to get involved and help out, it’s a really humbling thing,” he said.
And Father AJ says his medical team has also been incredible. One of his doctors was monitoring him regularly to make sure that he could be here in person for Easter Mass.
“Father AJ is just a cool dude. He reminds me of ZZ Top. He’s just an all around good guy. I don’t look at him as a priest, I look at him as a friend. I’ve been here for five years because of him,” said parishioner Peter Trivelas.
“You look at the worst case scenario, what could happen, and as long as you’re willing to accept that, everything else is going to be a grade of God,” Micciulla said.
Devoted to the church, but not giving up on giving back. The parishioners’ plea is to “Love thy neighbor, and save thy neighbor.”MORE NEWS: Police: Woman, 61, Killed In West Islip House Fire
To be a donor, Rev. Micciulla says you need to know your blood type, be in good health, have no history of chronic illness, high blood pressure, heart disease or drug or alcohol abuse, and be under 70 years of age. For more information you email contact email@example.com or CLICK HERE.