This series features people “In the Pews” at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament that you see every weekend and might want to know a little bit more about.
You have been a parishioner of this parish since you were born. What does Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament mean to you?
Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish is a very important part of my life, and of who I am. I owe a lot of my formation as a person, worker, husband, father, son to being a part of this parish community. It is like my second home and I just feel complete when I am volunteering where I am needed as well as experiencing a sense of the sacred during the liturgies.
I have literally grown up here having made all my sacraments here including my marriage, and having graduated from Mount Carmel School where I made friendships that I still hold dear today. I have experienced the wisdom of those who have been members for a long time and my heart is overjoyed to see the parish growing with new members of varied backgrounds as well as young faces.
You work for a living, are raising a family and you still are very involved in parish life. Why do you do it?
I guess the short answer is that when something is that important and means that much to you, you find the time and energy. I believe that God gives us the strength we need when doing God’s will. My love of God and devotion to Our Lady of Mount Carmel calls me to be active in the parish.
Because I view the community as a family, an extension of my home family, when family needs us we make the time. I am so thankful to God for my wife, Jean. She not only has begun to volunteer in the parish, too, but knows how important my involvement in the parish means to me and is very gracious and understanding. She’s been told by some in the parish that when she married me she married the church.
In a past life, you wanted to become a priest and even went to the seminary for a short period of time. You had second thoughts and returned home. How hard of a decision was it for you to make?
From when I was young I always felt a calling from God, and being involved in the church from a young age I felt that calling was to be a priest. Going through the process was a learning experience, one I will never forget. While in my mind I thought I was following God’s call for me, it wasn’t until I listened to what was in my heart to know that priesthood was not the calling God had in mind for me. It was a confusing and difficult decision for me to make especially after all the affirmations I received on being a priest and enjoyment I had with being a strong part of the church.
However, God had other plans for me and I have learned in my journey thus far (and it has taken until now to really know) that when you are open to what God has in store for you rather than what you think he has in store for you, then great things will happen (my wife and son). The experience of formation and seminary again has been a part of my overall formation as a man, but it is amazing how when you follow God’s will, the decisions just feel right. It is a feeling of affirmation that only God can give.
Who is the person in your life that you most respect and try to emulate yourself after?
There have been many thus far, but if I really had to focus on one person that would be my Grandpa Grassi. He, too, was a big part of my formation growing up right up to his passing in 2003. He was very much a gentleman yet strong, being a Marine and all. He taught me how important family is by how much he enjoyed having all of us together. He always took a great interest in what I was doing. He was always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need in a very modest way.
Grandpa definitely was a faithful man, a man of deep spirituality, but yet one of great humility. One thing for sure, I am still learning from him is his enjoying the lighter side of life and his great sense of humor. He taught me how to see God in all of creation and in the faces of others.
You have a baby son named Matthew. Someday, when you’re old and gray and Matthew is a young adult, what would be the one thing that you would want him to say about you?
That his dad is a man of great faith. I hope to be able to pass along my love of God and God’s ways to my son by the way I live my life. Being a father (even though it’s been less than a year) has been the best blessing I have ever experienced. I want to be able to instill a faith in him that he will keep alive when he becomes an adult.
As I have pointed out in my other responses, family is very important to me as well, both my home family and parish family. I want Matthew to have that same sense of importance of family as he is growing up along with the traditions our family has come to know and cherish. I feel the best legacy that a father can leave to his children is that of his faith, love of God, love of family and his integrity.
Occupation: Procurement supervisor at Utica National Insurance Group.
Education: Bachelor of science degree in accounting from SUNYIT.
Family: Wife Jean, son Matthew.
Favorite book: “The Shepard” by Joseph Girzone.
Favorite movie: “Field of Dreams.”
Favorite TV show: “Rizzoli & Isles.”