Dear ICC Family,
I’m so excited to be installed as your new pastor this week!
This a dream come true for me. I was blessed to have been at St. Aidan’s (Williston Park) as my first assignment and made some lifelong friends, several of whom will be at my Installation Mass. St. Aidan’s is a big parish with 5,000 families and a school with 450 kids, so coming to Immaculate Conception is a BIG change for me! But, almost without exception, I’ve been greeted here with open arms and open hearts. I’ve already made more lifelong friends here and I’m confident that I will make more as time goes by.
Bishop Barres asked me right before my ordination what I was most looking forward to in becoming a priest. I said that’s easy … the people! Because the people of God are good people. Only 17% of Catholics come to church, but the people who do are REALLY good. This is most evident at funerals when I get to meet families and talk about their loved ones. I’m constantly amazed at what people have done in their lives, not only in a practical, worldly sense … but in a spiritual sense as well. There are saints among us … a lot more than most of us (including myself!) realize.
I’m so grateful to God that he has given me the opportunity to hire (or promote) an all-star staff and volunteers. He knew I needed all the help I could get! lol
Linda (Secretary), Shawn (Sacristan), Victor (Maintenance), Deacon Ed (Plant Manager), Bobby (Music Director), Donna (DRE), Anne (DRE Secretary), Karen (Bookkeeper), Lyubov (Cook), Susan Berdinka (Website/Facebook/streaming volunteer), Joe Sala (Grand Knight), Verna Merkel (Consolation Ministry), Heather Crane and Mary Lou Ingram (Weddings) are all amazing people who not only are the best at what they do … they’re also wonderful human beings who greet you with a smile! I am also blessed to have the support of our two wonderfully spiritual Deacons: Mark and Joe, who bring so much to the people of this parish.
Like I’ve said to several people, whether the Bishop moves me tomorrow (hopefully not!) or in 12 years (hopefully so!), my successor will have the best staff imaginable! I am grateful that Bishop Andrzej (pronounced “AHN-Jay”) will install me. I’ve known +Andrzej since I was a seminarian at Corpus Christi (Mineola). I enjoy cooking for him and Fr. Malcolm Burns, their wonderful pastor, on my day off. Bishop Andrzej is also my favorite homilist. If you’ve never heard him, you’re in for a treat! He’s a man of great faith and knowledge (he’s the Vicar of Liturgy), who loves people and really engages them! In that respect, he’s like John Paul II. Both are Polish!
I would also like to thank the amazing Parish Council and Finance Council members, as well as the Trustees for their support. Special shout out to Linda O’Brien and Amabilia Estrada Ruiz who have gone WAY BEYOND what they were supposed to do to make sure my pastorate is a successful one. Linda is there in my most difficult times and Amabelia (along with Jose and Carlos) “bridge the gap” between me and our wonderful and dynamic Spanish community. I can’t thank them enough!
Finally, I want to thank all of you who have welcomed me with open arms and promise you that I will do my best to be an agent of change to make our already wonderful parish even better!
Please pray for me as I pray for you!