Father Jim: ‘The puzzle that is me’
Having been asked to offer a few words about my life, I’m happy to do so.
I blame being mostly happy and optimistic on a comfortable, spoiled and fortunate youth and school experience in those “growing” years.
I attended public school in Syracuse because Dad was a teacher, administrator and assistant superintendent – if I went to Catholic school they would have talked me into being a priest (I did it myself).
Italian family background is something many of us share and cherish. Our Lady of Pompei parish had famous, outgoing and gifted priests who influenced me. In ninth grade I knew what my life’s vocation would be.
Music, art, reading, outdoor stuff – boats, hiking, swimming, minor carpentry and building – have been and still are important parts of the puzzle that is me.
My friends, priests and people of all ages are the best joy, especially connecting all of them over the years. Having served in several parishes in these 37 years, there’s plenty of folks to connect.
Mother passed two years ago, devoted to the family and to her real estate brokerage firm and Republican politics. She and my father also were dedicated to veterans issues and affairs.
Pops, at 88, tells people he is my brother, don’t fall for it! His humor, stories and free advice is legend in several cities.
My sister Ann is in Old Lyme, Conn. Nice family; even married a great Polish boy from Utica. The younger brother, Michael, and family live in Cicero. He’s the hard worker with an automotive and towing business.
We all enjoy a long-time winter home in Jensen Beach, Fla., and the family home in Syracuse. I allow family to come to my summer camp at Skaneateles if they bring food; others don’t need to bring anything.
I do enjoy my two nephews and two nieces and one grand-nephew.
Travel has been woven into every year, when it works out. Learning and using different languages is something I really enjoy (still getting the hang of English).
For me, the most important work of the parish priest is to preach the Good News of the Gospel and make it clear, understandable and helpful for daily living, to make weekend Mass a Catholic experience that leaves people feeling better when they leave church than when they entered.
Also, to teach, comfort and cheer up others, to connect people with different gifts and things to offer to the parish or to each other.
I know the Lord uses my outgoing ways for good things, most of the time. If the Lord is waiting for some humility to appear, it will be a long wait.
There is no community or parish that I have been in that I didn’t really like and get deeply involved with – and now, here we go again!