Mary Siniscarco didn’t grow up in Central New York like many of the parishioners of St. Mary of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament. She’s originally from the Bronx, but yet she calls the area her home and feels like she was “born and raised” in the parish. One unusual note, however, though she’s from the Bronx, her favorite baseball team might surprise you.
Many of our parishioners are home grown, native to the area. You grew up in the Bronx. What was that like?
I grew up in the north Bronx, right on the border of Yonkers. I grew up in Woodlawn, which was predominantly comprised of Irish Immigrants. My parents were both born in Ireland, so I am first generation Irish. I have a brother and a sister, and we are all one year apart, so we had similar social circles growing up. Back then, we lived in a close-knit neighborhood where we spent lots of time with our friends and families. I can recall having the best time at our annual block parties. I had a wonderful childhood.
The Bronx can be stereotyped as a tough place. Was it like that for you and your family?
There are so many different neighborhoods within the Bronx; some are pretty tough and others, not so much. My particular neighborhood was safe and not the stereotypical depiction of the Bronx. To this day, you can still walk through the neighborhood and feel fairly safe.
Since you grew up in New York City, were you able to take in the amenities of the Big Apple?
There really is a difference between growing up right in the heart of New York City and growing up in one of the boroughs. I really did not spend a lot of time in the heart of the Big Apple, per se. I spent more time in the surrounding areas of the Bronx, such as Riverdale and Bainbridge. However, I can recall some memorable times in Central Park, Times Square, Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park.
Silly question: Why don’t you have a Bronx accent?
I actually do! Some words are a bit more Bronx-prominent than others, such as “coffee, water, talk” — I have the stereotypical Bronx accent when saying those words. When I talk to my family and friends from downstate, the accent totally comes right back!
You gotta be a Yankees fan, right?
I am probably not going to be too popular with this response, but, no, I am not a Yankees fan. My family and I have vacationed in New Hampshire every summer for the last 16 years, so I have been inundated with the Boston Red Sox. So, if I had to pick a baseball team, it would be the Boston Red Sox — a pretty taboo choice for a girl from the Bronx.
How did you end up in the Utica area?
I attended Utica College for four years, and while attending Utica College, I met my husband, John, who was born and raised in East Utica. After graduating from Utica College, I actually returned back home to work. That is where I was offered my first job, the job of my dreams. We long-distanced dated for over two years and then I decided that moving to Upstate New York was where I wanted to be all along. Despite being born and raised in the Bronx, I consider myself an Upstate New Yorker and absolutely love living here. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
You’ve been an occupational therapist for more than 25 years. How did you get interested in that career and what do you get out of it?
I always wanted to be in a helping profession within the medical field. My aunt was actually the one who mentioned occupational therapy to me. I did not know what it was at the time, but I did some research on the field and absolutely fell in love with it. It is so multifaceted and the opportunities are endless.
You also are an assistant professor of health studies at Utica College and chairwoman of the health studies program. How did you end up becoming an instructor?
I was an adjunct instructor at Utica College for over 10 years, teaching a course here and there, but I always managed to keep my hands in academia while maintaining a full-time job as an occupational therapist and raising my family. I have been employed at Utica College for the last seven years.
Like many of us, it seems Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament is your second home. How did you end up becoming a parishioner?
As mentioned earlier, my husband was born and raised in East Utica and he attended St. Mary of Mount Carmel grammar school. He was a parishioner of Mount Carmel his entire life. As soon as I stepped into St. Mary of Mount Carmel Church, I fell in love with it, too. We were married at St. Mary of Mount Carmel and all three of our children were baptized and received their Holy Communion and confirmation at St. Mary of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament. Our youngest daughter will be making her confirmation in a few more years.
What does this parish mean to you?
This parish represents tradition and family, a family that is always welcoming with open arms. I have been part of the parish for 20 years, but I feel like I was born and raised in this parish. It has always felt like home.
You also help out teaching the children in our Faith Formation program. What do you get out of that and what do you hope the kids learn from you?
I love teaching the little ones. They are so filled with the Holy Spirit. It is amazing to witness. They are very responsive and are proud of their faith. They have actually taught me so much about my own faith as well. I try to reinforce that it is so important to make a difference in the world and to the lives of others. I reinforce that they can make a difference, no matter their age.
As your children get older, what is the one thing you hope they’ve learned from you?
I hope that they have learned that they have gifts that have been bestowed on them through God and that if they follow God’s will, they will find their destined path. I hope they realize that the No. 1 priority in life is God and family, and that both need to be nurtured in order to thrive.
Occupation: Occupational therapist for more than 25 years. Assistant professor of health studies at Utica College and also the chairwoman of the health studies program.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from Utica College, master’s degree in health education from SUNY Cortland.
Family: Married to husband John for 21 years; son John, 18; daughters Shaelin, 16, and Fallon, 13.
Things you like to do in your spare time: We love to watch our children’s sporting events for soccer and track.
Favorite book: “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young.
Favorite movies: “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Forrest Gump.”
Favorite TV show: “House of Cards.”
Favorite musician or musical genre: I love all genres of music, but I really enjoy classic rock of the ’80s and ’90s.
Favorite quote: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”