Spotlight on Stewardship is a column which appears in the St. Boniface Martyr Bulletin about once a month. It highlights contributions parishioners make to St. Boniface Martyr Parish. It is a most fitting way to celebrate the “Year of Faith” which runs from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013. The Year of Faith is “a call to Christians to embrace their faith anew and proclaim the Gospel with their lives.”
- Jerry Moran and Kevin O’Shea
- Meet the Murellos
- Kathleen VanBloem, April, 2013
- Josie Harte, March, 2013
- Scott Whitting, February, 2013
- Irma Berkley
Jerry Moran and Kevin O’Shea
By Carol Griffin
This Spotlight on Stewardship focuses on longtime Parishioners Jerry Moran and Kevin O’Shea who coordinate the St. Boniface Outreach Program. Under their guidance Outreach has grown and is working with more individuals and families. Outreach also runs the Parish Thrift Shop that sells gently used affordable clothing and bric-a-brac. The Thrift Shop and food distribution are staffed by Jerry, Kevin and other volunteers from the Parish. It is open for three hours twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus calls on us to feed the and clothe our neighbors and on behalf of St. Boniface Parish Jerry and Kevin have certainly taken that message to heart by the service they provide.
Jerry Moran lives in Glen Head and has been a Parishioner of St. Boniface for 36 years. He and his wife, Sue, have raised their three children here. “The most important thing to me is my family,” he said. His basic values are family, faith and friends. Jerry attributes his faith to his parents, who had a strong religious background as Irish Catholic immigrants and to his Catholic elementary school education.
Jerry had volunteered as a coach in the St. Boniface CYO and local Junior Baseball for many years. He and Susan have always worked on the Parish festival and other fundraisers. He said, “I registered for the Parish after two ladies showed up at my door and told me I was a member of St. Boniface.”
When Fr. Mike was Pastor he appointed Jerry as a Parish Trustee. When Deacon Ted started Outreach at St. Boniface, Jerry said he and his wife Susan started to work in program, where Parishioners donated food and clothing, with the emphasis on distributing food. At that time Parishioners were donating the equivalent of 10 bags of food per week. Although the Parishioners were generous, this was not enough, since Outreach received the 75 requests for food each week. The Parish signed up for Long Island Cares started by the Harry Chapin Foundation and Long Island Harvest, where Jerry and Kevin O’Shea, who co-chairs Outreach, go weekly to pick up food to bring to the Parish. The State and Federal governments provide money for food and Kevin O’Shea completes the necessary paperwork for these benefits. On average 35-40 people pick up one bag of groceries provided to each family twice a week.
Those who need food initially fill out forms to request the food. “If you ask for food, you get it,” said Moran. Fourteen or fifteen volunteers help each month with distribution. At Thanksgiving and Christmas St.
Boniface Parish also provides 120 bags of food to families and food gift cards to buy fresh food products.Deacon Ted Kolakowski was responsible for the program growing and helping more people. When Deacon Ted left, Fr. Bob asked Jerry to take it over the program, and Jerry asked Kevin to co-chair it with him.
Reflecting on the program, Jerry said, “Someone had to do it. It’s a way of acting out our beliefs. This is a very practical way to live our faith.”
According to Jerry Moran, Kevin does all the paperwork for Outreach, which is considerable given all the governmental forms to be filed regularly. In speaking about early influences on his Catholic faith, Kevin tells us he grew up in Long Island City, a working class area of Queens. His family were members of St. Mary’s Parish and he attended St. Mary’s School. On Sunday’s he worked for the church cleaning and changing the candles. He was also an altar server and attended St. Agnes Catholic High School in New York City. Kevin’s uncle was a priest who was a big influence on him. He also attended Catholic college at Biscayne in Florida before finishing his degree at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Kevin said the most important value to him is charity, being able to give back to people his time and energy and give financial aid to those who have less. In high school and college, he volunteered as a tutor at the Jacob Reis Center, where he helped inner city kids develop language and math skills. He commented that he is grateful that in his own life he has been very fortunate.
Kevin and his wife, Alexis, moved to Glen Head, in 1972, and joined our Parish. In retirement, he enjoys being involved with his family, especially his grandchildren who he sees regularly. He enjoys reading and playing with and going on vacation with them. He has always been involved with the Parish fairs and fundraising. In 1987 he joined other fathers in building the Glenwood School play area and has been an active member of the James Norton Council of the Knights of Columbus. The Knights invite men who join to become better Catholics and to assist with charitable work within the community. With the Knights he has participated in various charitable works and fundraising including delivering food baskets to the homes of senior citizens for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Kevin also works Bingo night at the K of C, which gives its profits to various churches and other charitable organizations in the area. He still regularly donates to the Marist Brothers organization in gratitude for what they taught him when he was in high school and college.
St. Boniface Martyr Parish is grateful to Jerry and Kevin for organizing our Outreach Program that reaches out to help our neighbors.
Jerry Moran & Kevin O’Shea
Parish Center. Wednesdays & Saturdays. 10 am-1pm
Phone: (516) 676-0676.
The interview began with a question. “The Year of Faith?” asked John Murello. “All of a sudden we need a year of faith? Every year should be a year of faith, not just this year.” So, this year John and Rosemary Murello will celebrate 59 years of faith, stewardship, and marriage. “I was praying to meet the right person,” says Rosemary. “God brought John into my life and we both developed a relationship with God. We have to come into a personal connection with God, and you can’t have that with someone you don’t know but only know about. As we spend time with the Scriptures our relationship with the Lord grows – we come to know Him more intimately.”
The Charismatic Aspect
As young Catholics, John and Rosemary both thought the only people who served the church were the clergy and religious. “Not until Vatican II did we begin to realize we are all called to serve God,” says John, “although many of us felt unqualified. But, again, the gifts of the Holy Spirit enable us to do far more than we imagine.” “We wanted to be part of the Church, connected to the Church,” says Rosemary. “But we were shy and afraid of getting in over our heads until we began a relationship with the Lord. That’s when you hear Him and He enables you with the gifts of the Holy Spirit.” Rosemary is referring to 1 Corinthians 12 and the charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us for the benefit of the body of Christ. “I didn’t know what my gifts were, so I just let the Spirit lead me one day at a time.” He did. In their former parish, the Murellos were involved in religious education, in the prayer group, the Bible study, and led the Antioch program that brings teens closer to Christ. “The program involved 9th through 12th grades,” says Rosemary, “and kids came to the realization that the Father loved them. Many said they hadn’t realized it before. They even began taking their Bibles to school and gathered together after school to pray and subsequently grow in faith.” Then, 13 years ago, when Murellos moved to Sea Cliff and St. Boniface, they waited on the Lord to lead them in ministry. “And just like that, Fr. Michael Torpey, the former pastor, invited us to start a Bible study. Then when Fr. Bob arrived, he invited us to start a prayer group.” “And though people may think Rosemary and I do a long preparation for Monday prayer group, that we plan it down to every song. We do not – the Holy Spirit does. We pray Monday afternoon for the Lord to be with us, to guide us, and He does. He leads the Scripture, the songs, and the people. He enables and empowers. He gives the gifts. We couldn’t do it without Him”
The Love Letter
“We all have times when we question is God listening?” says John. “Does he know I am here? Is he paying attention? Then, when you hear someone affirm through an incident that He is listening and we are all encouraged, and renewed in faith. That’s the experience we’ve had.” “The Bible is a love letter from God,” says Rosemary, “ and so much in the scripture tells us about his love. Take Romans 8: Nothing can separate us from the love of God. He is the perfect parent. He understands us, he forgives us, and He is merciful, all He that requires is our yes.”
Let The Church Say Amen
“Everyday we are meant to be a blessing to one another.” John and Rosemary say, almost in unison. “The church, in the Biblical sense is a gathering of the people not an organization or structure. When someone shares about life changes, when you hear them say they turned their trust to God, we trust Him more deeply, and we share that trust with others.” “We are so blessed and grateful that the Lord brought us together with such sweet, kind loving, people in this parish and with Fr. Bob. “The Lord developed a community here. And He wants all of us to join in.”
by Carol Griffin
Kathleen VanBloem is a perfect example during this Year of Faith of someone in St. Boniface Martyr parish who proclaims the Gospel through her faith life. Kathleen is often visible by her active roles in the parish as a Eucharistic Minister, Lector, and Altar Server, but her greatest gift is really her quiet presence to people through her gift of hospitality and friendship.
It is not unusual for Kathleen to offer an encouraging word to those around her, take someone to the doctor, welcome a new face with a smile and friendly conversation, visit a friend who is sick bringing along her specialty, some homemade custard, or taking Communion to a homebound parishioner. In her own quiet way Kathleen regularly does these things with great dedication and love without any fanfare.
One of her most demanding contributions to the parish today is as an assistant to Irma Berkley with the Ministry of Consolation. Kathleen and Irma alternate responsibilities in this ministry involving about forty plus funerals at St. Boniface Martyr each year. They meet with each family that has lost a loved one and help them by assisting them in the selection of readings and music for the funeral Mass. They also attend the wake and coordinate the family or ministers involved in the funeral Mass. Kathleen’s empathy, gentle, attentive, yet confident way is no doubt a great help to the families she serves at their time of loss.
Having lost her husband suddenly, Kathleen said she recognizes the importance of the support you receive at such a time of loss, and the Ministry of Consolation recognizes the importance of that support. She said she is willing to be there for the people and taking to them where they are at.
Her primary values have always been family and faith, said Kathleen. “The reason I have a strong faith is because of my family,” she emphasized. As a child, she attended St. Aloysius School in Great Neck and later Manhattanville, in New York City, at the time a small Catholic women’s college staffed by the Sacred Heart nuns who influenced her. In 1963 Kathleen and her husband Peter moved to Sea Cliff with a sixth month old and two year old twins. She and Peter later added two more children to the family. When it was time for the children to start school they enrolled at St. Boniface Martyr School, where Kathleen joined the St. Boniface Mother’s Club. An early contribution she made to the school was helping supervise the children on the playground. During that time, she met and learned from a number of deeply religious women who were dedicated to the school. Peter was also involved in the school, including being chairman of the School Board.
After losing Peter in 1977, Kathleen returned to work and had to limit her involvement in the parish. Upon retirement, Kathleen became more involved in the parish again. During this period Kathleen became a member of the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Council, was a member of the Peace & Justice Committee and was involved in the Confirmation and Communion programs with the Jesuits. She also started some of her present commitments as Lector and Eucharistic minister, bringing Communion to the homebound and attending the weekly Prayer for the Sick. In addition she was appointed as a parish Trustee. She was one of the mainstays when the parish began a program for seniors and Fr. Mike hired Sr. Mary Butler, O.P. to run the senior program. After Sister Mary left, Pastoral Assistant Sr. Kathleen Murphy, O.P. took over with Kathleen’s assistance, and when Sr. Kathleen left, Kathleen continued leadership of the program with a core group of parishioners for some years.
Kathleen commented that the ideas and generosity of other volunteers has always been a big influence on her own life. She said that when asking for help from other parishioners, she shows them that what she is asking them to do is worthwhile, that they are capable of doing the job, that there will be others to help them, and they will not have to do it alone.
Today, Kathleen helps Rose Eggers and Eileen Bowersock and other volunteers with the Birthday Breakfast, she is a regular member of the St. Boniface Martyr Prayer Group and she regularly attends the parish Scripture Study.
Kathleen said that over the years her involvement in the parish has helped her to grow in her own faith. She said she finds the presence of the priests from Africa and India has broadened her view of the Church. Attending church regularly, she finds Fr. Bob’s homilies meaningful and helpful. Presently, she also credits her attendance at the weekly Prayer Group and Scripture study as helping her continued growth in faith.
Beside her regular involvements in the parish, Kathleen works part time for Sea Cliff Village in Community Development and is actively involved as a volunteer for several local community organizations. In recognition of her longtime dedication to the community, Kathleen received the White Cap Award for her service a few years ago.
by Carol Griffin
Although she is of small stature, Josie Harte has a very big heart and lots of energy that she has generously devoted to St. Boniface Martyr Parish as one of our unsung heroes. Most parishioners know Josie for her Sunday morning commitment to parish hospitality. Each Sunday she arrives early, makes freshly brewed coffee and sets up home baked goods for the parishioners to enjoy after 10:15am Mass; something she has been doing for about twelve years.
Josie came to Sea Cliff from Co Cavan, Ireland, in 1986 to serve as a nanny for the McMenamin family to help raise their boys. As the boys were growing up, Josie became familiar with St. Boniface Martyr by often walking the boys to church and religious education.After the boys were grown, Josie looked to take on other responsibilities to keep busy and that’s when she began to volunteer for St. Boniface Martyr Parish. In addition to her Sunday morning hospitality, Josie is usually the one who assists and sets up the coffee and desserts at other parish functions, St. Patrick’s Day Supper, farewells, anniversaries and birthdays throughout the year.Josie likes helping people, even strangers. She often puts other people before herself by doing things for them.
Besides her role in the parish by doing hospitality, Josie regularly does the altar linens and helps to take care of the parish grounds. She is often seen in the early morning weeding, or cultivating the ground in the flower beds around the church. Josie said she loves working in the garden because it’s relaxing and it’s a place where she feels close to God.
In addition to the McMenamin’s, Josie has also worked for other families in the area who appreciate her reliable help.
Josie said that when she was raised in Ireland, her family was very religious and regularly attended Mass and prayed the Rosary every evening. Up until now, Josie has gone home to Ireland every year to visit her brother and sister and their families, something she will continue. However, unfortunately for St. Boniface Martyr, Josie will be leaving the parish in February and moving to San Diego, California, with the McMenamin’s. Farewell, Josie and please come back to visit us. St. Boniface will not be the same without you!
by Kay Johnson
Scott Whitting’s model of stewardship begins with a fine smile and a handshake that’s strong, warm, and fully committed, just like the man, himself. So while grins and greetings may not sound like the traditional gifts we share or return to God, Scott knows they are. “I learned that from Fr. Bob,” says Scott. “When you build a good social community, you build a good religious community.” This synergism also defines our Year of Faith: the human will and the Holy Spirit working together to strengthen spiritual regeneration.
Man On A Mission: Scott found St. Boniface parish in 1980, “and I’ve become more and more attracted to the Church ever since.” The attraction led to Scott’s increased faith and relationship with Christ, a gift he wanted to share. Ultimately, it became an indivisible way of life. “I see stewardship as the desire to serve others,” he says. “So I started greeting people when they arrived, learning their names, shaking hands, making them feel welcome by saying ‘Hello, John’.” Scott became an usher, a Eucharistic Minister, a server at daily Mass, and a self-appointed custodian. “Okay, I admit I’m a bit of a neatnik,” he laughs. “So when I noticed the church is often messy after mass, I started tidying up the pews.” That led to being a sociable recruiter. “While I cleaned up, in a friendly way I’d ask parishioners to give me a hand. And now quite of a few of us have fun kidding each other while we work, again fostering that sense of community. And we can use more people. You can never have too many. So, please step right in and be welcome.” He also recruits a special group before Mass. “Well, that’s when I try to get kids involved,” he says, “especially as ushers. At the five o’clock mass I always corner a couple of youngsters to bring the gifts. I like the idea of them being contributors, not just onlookers. Their tangible participation will enhance their spiritual participation. I guess the idea truly is that one enhances the other. In the military, when we had a strong social bond, we performed our duties better. That social bond, be it in the military, your workplace, or church, strengthens the mission. “
Life, Death, and the Green Beret: Scott knows how faith can impact life and death experiences. “During Viet Nam, I vividly remember going to Chapel at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and praying I would make it through Special Forces training.” He did. He became a paratrooper and was selected for the Green Beret. He reenlisted when his military service was up. He volunteered for the front-line Green Beret medical team. “I’ve had quite a few near death experiences,” he says quietly “One in a plane crash in Viet Nam. I felt myself leave my body and was on my way to Heaven when I became aware that I could help save the lives of people who would otherwise die. The assignment has been my life experience. I am a big believer in God first of all, Number One. To have faith is to believe in a power greater than you. It is the strong belief in God and his blessings. “I was given God’s grace to save many lives,” says Scott. “We all have gifts and talents. The important thing is to recognize and share them. Certainly, when I am in prayer, I think of these things in a philosophical way as a gift from God, meant to be shared. So, he kept volunteering:
- Past President and ex-captain of the Hook and Ladder truck, Glenwood Fire Company
- Nassau to Suffolk Bicycle Challenge, 100-Miles-in-One-Day to aid our veterans
- Marathons including parachuting into Death Valley for a 100 mile run. The event earned a place in the Congressional Record and new, positive recognition for Viet Nam vets.
- Multiple charitable organizations that benefit needy and severely disabled children.
Even in his civilian vocation as a Funeral Director, Scott Whitting has served others. “When you can help people find their way it’s immensely rewarding.”
The Man and The Motto: “I am a man through experience,” Scott says. “I treasure family, friends, and the opportunity to participate. I pray for faith, hope, and love, love being the most important. Love in the sense of community, family, friends, and inviting others to participate.” He smiles and says, “Share your gift of time and talent. You don’t have to get overwhelmed. Do as much as you’re comfortable with and bring a friend. Bring your family. For instance, I get the kids to take part and that gets Mom involved. Whatever you do in a friendly, welcoming way encourages more people to participate. As long as you are welcoming, people will want to take part. “I want to show my gratitude and add to the overall mission of the church. I am grateful for the spiritual and the community of the church. If people are willing to give it a chance and get more involved, even on a very small level, just be a greeter, just say ‘Come in. Welcome,’ they will commit to live the way Jesus taught us.”
Join In: We need you and want you to help build a community of fellowship and faith. To get involved, talk to Scott after Mass. He will help you meet and match your interests; or call the parish office at 676-0676.; or visit http://saintboniface.org/Ministries-2.htm and join in, because it’s not a community without U. (Article by Kay Johnson).
by Carol Griffin
This Spotliight highlights the contributions of Irma Berkley who has given so much to St. Boniface and its people over the course of her life. Irma’s warm welcoming personality, sometimes including a hug, has contributed much to people and the ministries she has served so generously in for many years. One of her earliest memories of giving service to the parish was being toted along as a young teenager by her older sister Margaret to sing in the choir.
Irma and her husband Bill, both grew up on McGrady Street in Glen Cove. They were married in St. Boniface Martyr in 1949 by Father O’Mara. After they were married, Bill’s schooling and later jobs took the couple out of the area where some of their five children were born. Irma said they moved back to McGrady Street in the 1960’s when Fr. Fee was pastor.
As her children grew up Irma became active in the parish once again, especially with music. She was also involved in teaching a special group of children in CCD when Ita Levesque directed the program. When the renovation of the “new” church was organized under Fr. Diederich, Irma and Bill assisted in fundraising for the project. As a member of the parish choir, Irma was a natural fit when the Children’s Liturgy was organized in the 80’s. She worked with the organist, Nicole Van Vorst, and Karen Sweeney, who sang, helping the children to bring their sweet young voices to parish liturgy.
When the R.C.I.A Team of lay people was formed under Fr. Jay Madacsi and Maureen Kelly in the late 80’s, Irma was one of a small group of volunteers who welcomed and trained the first candidates, who were later baptized at the Easter Vigil. Irma later served as a companion for a teenage confirmation candidate.
As a member of the choir she became a cantor at Mass and later Fr. Reggie asked her, in the absence of a choir director, to select the music each week used at Sunday Mass. She was invited to be a Eucharistic Minister and she volunteered to lector at weekday Mass. In the absence of a priest on Monday mornings, Irma became one of a small group of parishioners who led Communion services. When Music Director Jeff Schneider organized the Bell Choir, Irma was right there ready to be part of the group.
Presently the Ministry of Consolation is Irma’s major contribution to the parish. In the early days of the ministry she sometimes led the Wake Services when Sr. Kathleen Murphy could not be present. After Sr. Kathleen left St. Boniface, Fr. Michael Torpey asked Irma to take over the responsibility of the Ministry of Consolation. She recruited a small group of parishioners that included Fred Haberle, Ed Tooher and Kathleen Van Bloem to assist at wake services. The ministry has grown and Irma now has the assistance of Kathleen and a large group of parishioners who attend and assist at our funerals.
With her gentle ways and listening ear, Irma is certainly the right person to meet with the families who have just lost a loved one and to assist them through their loss on behalf of the parish. She often receives notes from families expressing their appreciation to her and other the members of the ministry for their help to them at their time of loss.
Always concerned for people with needs, Irma was also part of a group of parishioners who visited people in the hospital and another group who prayed at home for parishioners who requested prayers for their needs and those of their family.
Irma has been appointed one of the Parish’s trustees. Presently, you will often find Irma and her husband Bill on Saturday at the 5 o’clock Mass.
Recognizing Irma’s major contributions to the parish of St. Boniface Martyr, Fr. Bob Romeo recently recommended to Bishop Murphy that Irma receive the “St. Agnes Award” given each year by the bishop to parishioners in the diocese who have given exemplary service to their parish and diocese. On October 14, Irma was awarded the medal at a ceremony at St. Agnes Cathedral. Congratulations Irma! Thanks for all you have contributed to all of us here at St. Boniface Martyr Parish.