IN THE PEWS: A conversation with Dr. Anthony Palumbo

Above: From left, Clarkson University President Dr. Tony Collins and wife Karen, and Phyllis and Dr. Anthony Palumbo share an evening in October 2019 at Delmonico’s as part of the restaurant’s celebrity series.

Dr. Anthony Palumbo says the joy he gets out of life is dedicating himself to others. From his years as an ophthalmologist to his love of his parish, his main objective is the betterment of those around him.

You’ve been an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon for more than four decades. What enticed you into that profession?

My mother’s lifelong ambition was to serve others beyond her own needs. Mom’s example, rich with compassion and devotion, became the beacon to illuminate life’s unknown journey. Serendipity awakened. I read a story consisting of five sightless children, bonded in brotherhood, living remotely on a small farm in Sicily, parents impoverished and uneducated, clearly became a pivotal mindset in my life. My mother’s unselfishness, adding dad’s empathy, provided a willingness to sacrifice and contribute to the reality of my dream and the necessary resolve to serve the visually impaired for as long God wishes.

What has been your greatest reward?

Giving of oneself. The spirit of gratitude speaks to me asking, “Why was I born?” Imagine being deprived of the most precious gift in life — your sight. Yes, God blesses us with the miracle of sight. His blessings glorify his love resonating the gift of “le mani d’oro.” I am humbled to accept His consecrated gift of body and blood. In the spirit of gratitude, this is my reward for service to Him.

You spent time in the military. What were the one most important things you learned?

Never be satisfied with mediocrity; maintain a positive attitude; team is a collection of trust; respect begets respect; be proud of your country, your uniform and yourself; discipline is paramount to survival; live by the Golden Rule; trust in God always.

You have been involved in the community over the years. If you could pick one community association that meant the most to you, what would it be?

The Utica Rescue Mission, second to none. Dedicated by virtue of definition, success triumphs over failure. The power of giving promotes opportunity, from which inspiration creates renewal and growth. These are the essential pillars of strength from which hope and self-improvement are born. Therefore, a positive mindset will change by action and ultimately shine with accomplishments. It is from these accomplishments that dreams come true.

You work at the parish festival, have been a member of the parish council and are a eucharistic minister, among others. Why do you do what you do?

It’s all about the people. I found good chemistry with Monsignor Ronald Bill. From this relationship, I willingly offered to volunteer to be parish chairperson for the Hope Appeal 2003. Monsignor Bill was a much beloved (interim) pastor and fun to work with. More so, many were mesmerized by his gifted voice and inspirational finales. This became the springboard for future volunteering endeavors. Church plus community both gratuitously benefit financially as well. Meeting new people and learning from others became a joy. Networking also became commonplace. Fellowship nurtured a sense of fun and entertainment. Finding humor is an excellent elixir for longevity.

What does the parish mean to you?

St. Mary of Mount Carmel became an essential part of my character from a very early age. I would attend the children’s Mass at 9 a.m. on Sunday with my beloved grandmother Theresa. Impressively dressed in ubiquitous black, grandmother was the classic Christian role model and firm disciplinarian. Her love of the Blessed Mother influenced my understanding of church protocols given due respect and obedience. A classic Florentine biscotti was the result for my compliance. Mount Carmel became home away from home. Parishioners became family, gracious and caring, while church ambiance radiated as a temple of classic Italian beauty and a Renaissance treasure of history. Such early lessons reaffirmed closeness to God and the joy of sacraments. Our baptismal ceremony, first Holy Communion, confirmation and marriage were historic highlights dating from my parents’ time and now passed on to my children. At the end of the rainbow we found our dream. Mount Carmel is the best of the best. A dream come true.

How does your faith influence your life?

My life is the mirror image of my faith. Without the gift of faith, both hope and gratitude are absent in meaning. Faith embodies the belief in God, which leads to a more complete and integrated life. Church is our lifeblood, which brings meaning and purpose to one’s self-worth. Prayer nurtures spiritual awareness and a strong sense of goodness. Cohesively, the fruits from prayer are gifts of compassion, love and joy all a result of faith from Christ’s Golden Rule.

Based on your years of experience, what words of wisdom would you give to the younger people of our parish.

Simply, like what you do. If you succeed in completing your given task, feel a sense of fulfillment from your accomplishments, then you will be rewarded appropriately. Remember, the perception of change must begin first with you. From a person of experience, you must show a robust difference if a better tomorrow is to happen. Defy convention. Never stand still. Never be satisfied with mediocrity. Shift the paradigm and follow your instincts. … Be kind, be polite and be ever grateful. The ladder of success begins with the first rung. The climb to the top requires perseverance and courage. Do not be afraid. God walks with you. Like what you do and you will never regret your success.

Dr. Anthony Palumbo

Age: “Timeless.”

Former occupations: Chemical engineer, Clarkson University; commissioned officer, U.S. Navy; research scientist, Masonic Research Lab, DNA study on aging; ophthalmology / photo refractive surgery, Dove Eye Center, director; graduate teacher, University of Rochester Eye Institute.

Family: Wife Phyllis; daughters Joanne Mozloom and Terese Lyn Palumbo; son-in-law, Peter Mozloom; grandchildren Anthony and Elise.

Things you like to do in your spare time: Travel, meet new people, family and friends, read, exercise, journaling, classic movies, count my blessings.

Favorite book: “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Favorite movie: “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

Favorite TV shows: “I Love Lucy,” “Carol Burnett Show.”

Favorite musical genres: Operatic and classical.

Favorite quote: “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow until you find your dream.”