Year For Priests

Readers share memories of priests

Special wedding gift
The summer before my parents were married, Father George Fogarty would instruct my mother as she was converting to Catholicism. My Dad would drop her off at the old rectory and they would sit on the porch stairs for her religious instructions. Dad would come back in an hour and a half with three ice creams, and they would talk some more.

Father Fogarty married them in August 1940 at St. Patrick’s Church in Bay Shore. As a wedding gift Father gave them two simple framed pictures — of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. These pictures were hung in a place of honor in whatever place they called home, from the east coast to the west coast and back again. They still hang in our home after almost 70 years. Father Fogarty as well as my parents are long gone now but the gift still remains. There have been many prayers prayed before these images through all these years, in good times and difficult times. The fruits of that gift still grow."
— Colette Fanelli,
St. Patrick’s,
Bay Shore


Dearly loved Church
In July 1973 (when I was 40) Father William Galloway brought me out of the darkness into the wonderful light of Christ. It was his beautiful sermons on all that Jesus had done for us and for our salvation that inspired me to go to him to seek to enter the Catholic Church he loved so dearly and to receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist. Father instructed me in the faith; baptized and confirmed me; and it was from him I received First Holy Communion. It was through Father’s pastoral care that I experienced the powerful intercession of Our Blessed Mother in a manner so miraculous that I would know forever Mary was truly the Mother of God and our Mother through Jesus.

It seems most significant that Father Galloway, ever devoted to Our Blessed Mother Mary, had gone home in the Marian Year of 1987. "
— Mildred McCarthy,
St. Paul the Apostle,


Embraced his suffering
Through his patience in his own suffering Msgr. Thomas Groenewold reminded me of our great Pope John Paul II whose legacies were ‘Do not be afraid,’ and ‘embrace suffering.’

After 9/11, I needed spiritual direction. I went to our rectory at St. Catherine of Sienna in Franklin Square. Msgr. Thomas right away and generously began to help me. He became my spiritual counselor until his last hospitalization.

When diagnosed with lung cancer, he submitted patiently to the treatment of chemo and radiation. We witnessed his side effects with prayerful admiration for his courage and strength of character. Yet he continued with all of the duties as pastor and with the culmination of the building of the beautiful Sienna Center that we all enjoy today.

About two months after his death, I had a terrible car accident. The second I saw the impending danger I thought: ‘Father Groenewold help me.’ I do not remember anything after that until the police took me from the car which got totally destroyed; and me, I didn’t break one single bone. Up to today I attribute that miracle to him. "
— Balbina Mojocoa,
Valley Stream


Thanks for gift of Reconciliation
I would like to thank personally Father Ronel Charelus, Father Brian Ingram and Father Gabriel Muteru for spending many hours ‘listening’ through the ears and heart of Jesus Christ in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Not only have I been the ‘graced’ recipient of this life-giving sacrament but so have many others who come to unburden their hearts and souls and seek the peace of Jesus.

I would also like take this opportunity to ‘gratefully acknowledge’ all priests who hear confessions and send us forth in freedom to change the world and bring Jesus to others. Surely there wouldn’t be a ‘sending forth’ without the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thank you to all priests ... you are our treasure."
— Anita Guariglia,


Everyday guidance
Our family was wonderfully blessed to know Father Bill Breslawski while he was at Parish of the Holy Cross. His sense of humor made his homilies so full of rich everyday guidance and appealed to my children. He helped so many of us get through 9/11/01 as well as every week and I am grateful to have had his influence on our lives."
— Susan Trainor,


Calm, joyful leadership
Some forty years ago, I met Msgr. Robert Kirwin when Bishop Mc Gann assigned him to be pastor in the newly booming Hauppauge section of Suffolk County. From the beginning, he attracted and trained curates who would become some of today’s finest pastors.

His calm, joyful, spiritual leadership brought us through the challenges of a church housed in a former coffin factory to a modern church built in an industrial park. He is still remembered in St. Thomas More parish as a pastor who ‘was for the people’, ‘was very inclusive’, ‘made us feel as though it was our parish ... not his.’

Today 90-year-old Msgr. Kirwin resides at St. Aidan’s in Williston Park where he still concelebrates parish Masses."
— James P. Gough,
New Hyde Park


Childhood memories
One of my earliest childhood memories is of a young German priest, Father Stanislaus Treu. Father Treu, having fled Hitler’s persecution of Catholic priests, was given refuge by my grandmother, Adele Mante, who took him into her home in the Bronx. He remained a cherished member of our family and officiated at my wedding in 1969. In 1984 he sadly presided at the burial of my mother, whom he’d known as a young girl during WWII.

During the 1950s and ‘60s our lives at St. Peter of Alcantara Church in Port Washington were blessed by a rectory full of the most wonderful priests (and greatest characters!) I have ever known: Father Hugh Reilly, Father John Carmody, Father William Gill, and our beloved pastor, Father Jerome Holland.

These men have been lifelong examples to me of the generous joy and liveliness of a lived faith."
— Beverly M. Squires,


Quiet, humble way
Father Ed Koch is a priest who has touched our life in his quiet and humble way. Be it celebrating our daughter, with special needs, First Holy Communion Mass or helping my husband and I stand upright and trusting as we stumbled on life’s stepping stones."
— Taryn Horsham