PARISH VOLUNTEERS: Scalzos get the job done

Last Updated on January 23, 2022 by Editor

Mario and Carmelann Scalzo believe socialization is an important part of parish life. “In all of our planned events, we strive to ‘feed the bellies’ as well as to ‘feed the soul.’ We are committed to keeping our parishioners as a united family and hosting these social events for all ages.”

“More Good News” begins a series of stories on volunteers, who are the lifeblood of our parish. This issue features Mario and Carmelann Scalzo, who have served Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament in many capacities. They answered our questions together.

In December, you received the Immaculata Award from the Syracuse diocese given to people who volunteer and make an impact in their parishes. What does this award mean to you?

It was a heartwarming experience to know that what we unselfishly do for our parish community was recognized.

In what capacities do you volunteer in our parish?

Our capacities within our parish are what we like to refer to as “Jack of All Trades” — in other words, where we feel there is an opportunity to perform duties that can enrich our parishioners and bring us together as a family. As co-chairs of our Social Committee, we enjoy planning a variety of activities for all age groups and parish membership. Besides our most popular events, we continuously look to our parishioners to offer ideas for new events. We also are one of three couples serving on our Marriage Team that hosts the annual Engaged Couples Day and perform the wedding rehearsals.

During our annual festival to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, we assist in preparing the food (we previously co-managed the food tent for 12 years before “retiring”) and our mushroom stew has become our “trademark.” We are also members of the Mount Carmel Society and St. Anne Society and assist in planning events such as the annual Communion Breakfast. Carmelann also taught in the Faith Formation program where she taught first and second grades and the Penance and First Communion program. At the present, Carmelann is a Eucharistic minister and Mario enjoys singing in our choir. Mario also was the Cubmaster for the Cub Scout pack previously sponsored by our church.

As members of the Marriage Team you get to instruct couples and guide them along the marriage path. Please explain what you do.

When a couple gets engaged, we are notified by the Parish Office and the initial contact is made to introduce ourselves and offer any assistance in answering any questions they have regarding our parish guidelines for weddings. Once a year we host an Engaged Couples Day where we invite all the engaged couples being married that year to an informal get-together where Father Cesta blesses the couples and welcomes them, and the team offers insight to the rehearsal and the wedding process. Within a day or two of their wedding, we schedule their rehearsal and actually perform a run-through of the wedding process for the next day. We resolve any procedural issues that may arise and offer solutions.

Why did you choose to volunteer in this ministry?

At the time, it was a new endeavor by Father Salerno and evolved and eventually Father Rose asked us to formalize the process to take the couples from their engagement through to the wedding rehearsal.

What advice do you give to couples?

We ask that they actively communicate with each other and to always keep God in their lives and activities.

You also are very involved in the Social Committee. How important is socialization for parishioners?

In all of our planned events, we strive to “feed the bellies” as well as to “feed the soul.” We are committed to keeping our parishioners as a united family and hosting these social events for all ages.

How important are volunteers to parish life?

Volunteers are the heartbeat of our church and parish. If we are to survive as a healthy church, then we need to continue to act as a communal body — and to accomplish this, you need volunteers. Our belief is that there are never enough volunteers.

What is rewarding about volunteering?

The camaraderie between young and old coupled with the prospect of meeting new friends. Our parish is exceptional in the fact that when the Social Committee (or any organization) calls for volunteers, the line immediately forms.

What advice would you give to those who might be considering volunteering in some capacity but are hesitant because of time concerns?

Not every society, committee or event requires a lot of time. We always appreciate the amount of time a volunteer gives, whether it’s minutes, hours or sometimes days. It’s the socialization and being with friends to come together for a common goal that’s rewarding.

Do you have any final words of wisdom?

Step up and volunteer. Our community is very vibrant in whatever endeavor we take on, but it cannot be done without the active involvement of our parishioners.

Mario and Carmelann Scalzo

Ages: Mario 74, Carmelann 75.

Married: Sept. 30, 1972.

Family: Son Mario III and wife Carrie and their daughter Elizabeth; daughter Andrea Scalzo-Willson (husband Robert deceased) and children Bianca and Robert; daughter Maryangela Scalzo Scaramuzzino and husband Stephen Scaramuzzino and children Tressa, Natalie and Sophia.

Mario’s occupation: Retired vice president of Bank of New York Mellon.

Carmelann’s occupation: Retired administrative assistant at Microfoam Corp.