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Rev. Alphonse Mascherino

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Rev. Alphonse Mascherino (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
SOMERSET, Pa. (AP) - A priest who left the Roman Catholic church and founded a nondenominational chapel to honor the victims of hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 has died of cancer.

The Rev. Alphonse Mascherino died Friday at a hospice in Somerset, according to Archbishop Ramzi Musallam of the Catholic Church of the East.

Mascherino, who was 69, bought a former Lutheran church and converted it into the Flight 93 Memorial Chapel, in honor of 40 passengers and crew killed when the hijacked airliner crashed during the Sept. 11, 2011 terrorist attacks.

Then Altoona-Johnstown Bishop Joseph Adamec said Mascherino's work was commendable but not compatible with his Catholic priesthood.

Mascherino went on to become a bishop in the North American Old Roman Catholic Church, which doesn't recognize the Catholic pope's authority.

Miller Funeral Home and Crematory in Somerset is handling Mascherino's arrangements.

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