By, Kyla Guilfoil, Editor-in-Chief
Christian Gallante, a junior at Manhattan College, lover of history and a beloved friend, son and classmate, died suddenly and unexpectedly on Thursday, March 24. He was 20.
Gallante was born on Dec. 21, 2001 at St. John’s Hospital in Queens, New York to Marie E. Guadarrama and Joseph R. Gallante. He attended St. John’s Preparatory School in Astoria, Queens, and graduated with a high school diploma in 2019.
During high school, Gallante was a member of Campus Ministry and served as an altar server. He also spent many afternoons at the American Museum of Natural History, as part of various after school programs. During high school, he interned at the Central Park Zoo and the New York Historical Society. In line with his passion for history, Gallante was part of a very select Teen Historian Program there.
His mother, Marie Guadarrama, also remembers him as an avid reader and rare book and artifact collector. She said that for a time, he actually sold rare books online.
“Over the years, there was not one exhibit that he would miss,” Guadarrama wrote to The Quadrangle. “We would walk all over this city investigating every single crevice. He loved architecture and wanted to be a warrior for its historic preservation. He did thorough research, so that he could tell you the stories behind every brick and every corner that we passed.”
A winner of multiple scholarships, Gallante was a junior double majoring in political science and history at Manhattan College. According to Guadarrama, Gallante planned to go to law school after receiving his Bachelor’s degree, and was just beginning to prepare for the LSAT exam. Guadarrama said that Gallante planned to complete his senior year in Washington, D.C. as an intern. She said that his goal was to specialize in international law and diplomacy.
“He cared about the future of this world and wanted to make a great impact to help bring peace,” Guadarrama said.
Throughout high school and college, Gallante pursued these interests by campaigning for several New York gubernatorial, senatorial and mayoral candidates.
Gallante also had traveled extensively in his young life, having gone to Europe to visit Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, as well as to Mexico, Israel and Jordan. Last year he took a cross-country trip from New York to California. His mother explained that he loved taking road trips throughout the US.
At Manhattan College, Gallante was also a part of the Pre-Law Society, the Train Club and Campus Ministry.
William Reed, president of the Train Club at MC, said that Gallante was an active member of the club, and joined the club on a field trip to the New York Transit Museum in November 2021.
“Chris was a great member of this organization as he positively contributed to regular meetings as well as the club’s first official field trip to the New York Transit Museum,” Reed wrote. “The Train Club members and I mourn the loss of our good friend and will remember his positive impact on society.”
Chris Bagdonas, a junior communications major and friend of Gallante, said that Gallante was one of the first people he became friends with in his freshman year.
“I was immediately struck by his intelligence, and his kindness,” Bagdonas said. “He would be able to talk about so many things, and he never made jokes about anyone. He was so approachable and could start a conversation with anyone, about anything.”
Bagdonas added that Gallante was a very loyal friend.
“He was as loyal a friend as you could have, he never pretended to be someone else, he was himself everyday,” Bagdonas said. “I’m just going to miss him, because he was incredible. He’s just about as genuine as it gets.”
Paul Droubie, director of international studies and associate professor of history at MC, had taught Gallante.
“I taught Christian in multiple classes,” Droubie wrote to The Quadrangle. “While he could be fairly quiet, he was also immensely curious and was always asking questions or offering up observations and sharing his knowledge. He made the classroom a better place. I didn’t have him in class this semester and I don’t advise him, but most semesters, he had a habit of dropping by my office to chat about the courses he was looking forward to taking the next semester. I’d actually been looking forward to seeing him this week. I’ll miss that.”
Michael Ubinas, a friend of Gallante, commented on the GoFundMe page established to raise funds for Gallante’s funeral expenses.
“If there was anybody that illustrated intelligence mixed with charisma really well, Christian would be that guy,” Ubinas wrote. “His witty humor mixed with his down to earth personality would make a frown turn upside down. You’ve been a real friend Christian, I’m really gonna miss you homie.”
Elisa DelGardo, who organized the GoFundMe page, wrote on the website about Christian’s prior plans for the future.
“He loved the beauty of the world and everything in it,” DelGardo wrote. “Christian was the future of our world, a future that would have changed all of our lives for the better. The world really needed him, but a tragic accident cut his future short. Like many Americans, these last few years have been a challenge. The Gallante and Guadarrama families were not spared and have shouldered the close losses of multiple family members coupled by medical and funeral costs already. Christian’s passing makes an unbearable burden of loss even heavier.”
The GoFundMe page can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/f/funeral-expenses-for-christian-joseph-gallante?qid=bfc5ffcc543b3d313bd7ed60e0029c0b .
The Manhattan College History Department Facebook account also posted kind words in memory of Gallante.
“With heavy hearts, we have to inform you that we lost one of our own on Thursday, Christian Gallante, ’23 (HIST/POSC),” the page read. “This is a true tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends as we grieve. In times like this, we need to reach out to each other.”
Gallante’s high school, St. John’s Preparatory School, also posted a statement on their Facebook page.
“It is with great sadness that we share news of the funeral services for Christian Gallante, class of 2019 (son of Marie Guadarrama, class of 1998),” the post said. “Christian, a faithful altar server, lover of history, collector of vintage books, member of the chess club and Catholic Workers club, was called home to God unexpectedly on Thursday.”
Reverend Thomas Franks, who led a mass on campus in honor of Christian last Friday, March 25, spoke to the character that so many have remembered Christian by.
“I don’t know him well, but from everything that I’ve heard he was a very caring and curious person,” he said. “I think that right now we should take that sense of care and curiosity and use it with each other in Christian’s memory.”
Guadarrama told The Quadrangle that Christian’s character and interests were apparent from a young age.
“As a child, he had a face and curls that put all the cherubs of Rome to shame,” she wrote. “He kept his wide brown eyes open and noticed everything around him. Some of his greatest passions were animals, nature, books, history and art.”
Citing her son as witty and wise beyond his years, Guadarrama will remember Gallante for his character.
“As a woman of faith, I am aware that he is still alive and by my side,” Guadarrama wrote. “But I will also need the love and encouragement of my family and friends to continue to prevail. Christian in the meantime, will be my personal guide. Without a doubt, I know that God has called him for all types of great work. This is not the end by far.”
Gallante’s visitation services will take place today, March 31, at Leo F. Kearns Funeral Home in Rego Parks, New York. There will be two visitation periods from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., and 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
His burial mass will take place on Friday, April 1 at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Astoria, Queens. It will begin at 10 a.m. and will also be live streamed at https://www.facebook.com/StJosephRomanCatholicChurchAstoria/.
The Campus Ministry and Social Action office will be providing transportation to both visitation hours and the funeral. If you are interested in attending, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.