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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Are our smartphones destroying the fabric of the American family? Think about that question. How many young families with children are allowing their elementary school children to have smartphones with little or no restrictions?

In April, I was at a celebration with a family with three children from the Midwest; all were in junior high school. Dad is a successful attorney and Mom is a tenured schoolteacher. Grandparents and an aunt were also there to celebrate the eighth-grade daughter’s confirmation. By traditional definition, they are a strong, intact family.

After grace was said, I was amazed at what followed. These children are bright and articulate. They are not inhibited to share their opinions. After a few minutes of banter, which I initiated, they immediately became obsessed with their smartphones. The only communication for the remainder of the meal was shared among the adults present. 

As I flew back home after the celebratory dinner, I could not help but be distracted by my cellphone observation. I decided I would be more attentive of young people and how and when they use their smartphones. I must admit I was taken back by my observation.

On Tuesdays, I take an early morning train to New York City. I teach in the graduate school of social work at Fordham University. I was deafened by the silence. Based on observation, most of the passengers were on their smartphones, their tablets and/or their laptops. It was the rare row of seats in this crowded train where people were actually engaged in conversation!

So I decided to look further into the smartphone issue. I already knew from my experience that smartphones were becoming a problem in college classes, so much so that I had to develop a specific policy on the use of cellphones in my classes. 

However, I wanted to know more. When did you get your first smartphone? How many hours a day do you spend on it? Are you permitted to have a cellphone at family dinner? Would you rather text than speak to someone directly or leave a voicemail?

I was definitely concerned by their responses. I sought input from my classes in a four-year school and a community college. All who responded were students in the classes I taught at these respective schools. For the most part, their answers were the same.

Most students said they received their first smartphone by late elementary school, early junior high school — that is fifth or sixth grade. As small children, their use of their smartphone was limited by bedtime. However, by high school most students admitted they were using their smartphones from 10 to 15 hours a day, and in some cases, even more!

Most admitted that they would rather text or leave a voice message instead of talking. The only split was with those who had family dinners where cellphones were prohibited; however, those not having a family meal said it was not an issue. They were equally divided on how many had a family dinner and how many had not had a family dinner since early elementary school.

These observations could not be seen objectively as conclusive since the survey is very limited in number. However, it does offer us a lot of food for thought. It helps to explain for me as a teacher why college students’ writing skills have deteriorated over the years and their critical thinking skills are almost nonexistent. The human connection seems to be lost. The next generation seems more grounded in one-dimensional nonhuman connections rather than face-to-face human interaction.

For the sake of our future, we need to go back to simpler times where people were more important than social media posts and human touch with respect and dignity more valuable than a social platform. We must reclaim the fabric of our American family life before it is too late!

P.S. I still write hand-written notes and letters! LOL!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

File photo by Alex Petroski
Father Frank Pizzarelli

As you read this column, we are in the midst of college graduations and anticipating our annual high school graduations. This year’s classes of graduates have made a powerful impact upon all of our communities. 

The social landscape that these young men and women have had to navigate has been complex, complicated, painful and, at times, overwhelming. Despite an increase of school shootings, this year’s graduates have become a powerful voice for common sense gun safety, challenging those that lead us to come down out of their ivory towers and listen and equally important commit themselves to action.

Despite the lack of positive, courageous elected leaders to look up to, this year’s graduates have not allowed their poor example to temper their desire to lead by example, challenge the social indifference that has become commonplace and the commitment to make a profound difference in our world. So many seniors have expressed the desire to leave the world better than they found it!

Seniors, as you begin a new chapter in your life don’t let the world and the bureaucracy temper that commitment to be grounded in that important value and principle. Do not let the social filters of our time enable bigotry, exclusivity and social injustice. Always try to realize that being human and sensitive to others is more important than a successful academic record. Showing compassion and understanding rooted in justice is more significant than any science formula or social platform. These are difficult lessons to learn because they demand that you risk all that you are now for what you could become tomorrow.

As you graduate keep these simple thoughts in mind: May you discover enough goodness in others to believe in a world of peace and to work for peace grounded in social justice. May a kind word, a reassuring touch and a warm smile be yours every day of your life. Remember the sunshine when the storm seems unending. Teach love to those who only know hate; let that love embrace you as you continue in the world. May the teachings of those you admire become a part of you so that you may call upon them. It is the content and quality of who you are that is important not merely the actions you take.

Don’t judge a book by its cover or stop at the introduction. Read it through, seeking meaning and message of every life, for everyone’s life is sacred, even those who are different from you or whom you do not like. Be more inclusive than exclusive. Don’t be blinded by those who tend to use shame, blame and guilt to shackle people down and divide them. Set people free with your respect and nonjudgmental way.

So, seniors, as you take leave, what is your purpose? What is your mission? Your life will be what you create it to be. No one can take that life from you! There is no blackboard in the sky that your life outlined for you. You get to fill the blackboard of your life with whatever you feel is important. If you have filled it with junk from the past, wipe it clean. Erase all the hurt and pain that has blocked you from living and loving and being grateful that you are now in a place where you have a new beginning, a fresh opportunity to start new and make something wonderful of your life.

May your moral compass be grounded in integrity and respect for all human beings, no matter what their color, their race, their creed and/or sexual orientation. May your moral compass guide you on a path that is committed to working for peace and social justice. Congratulations, graduating class of 2019. Thanks for making our world a little richer, a little brighter and a better place to be!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Paris’ famed Cathedral of Notre-Dame suffered a massive fire on Arpil 15.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

On Monday evening of Holy Week this year the world stopped in shock and watched the famous Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris burn. This 850-year-old Catholic cathedral is a symbol of culture, art, spirituality, Catholicism and hope.

For a brief moment people from around the world came together to express their solidarity with the people of Paris and all of France. For Catholics, it was a prayerful reminder that from ashes new life comes — and hope lives!

Since the fire, I have thought a lot about the power of compassion and love that comes from people — ordinary men and women who make a difference every day. They go about their business not seeking the limelight or wanting anything in return for their kindness and compassion.

The present world landscape, our own country’s landscape is wrought with division, hatred and volatility. Those who lead us have failed to challenge injustice, discrimination and violence. Our religious leaders too often are complicit by their silence to the complex social issues of our times.

However, hope does live among us! There are those anonymous people in our midst that remind us every day to build bridges and not walls, to be more inclusive without judgment, to respect the dignity of every human person, no matter what his or her social circumstance might be.

Every day I am fortunate to see firsthand these miracles that make our world brighter and better. A few weeks ago, I was waiting at the railroad station in Port Jefferson for the train to New York City. I was on the platform closest to the street. At a distance, I saw an elderly woman slip and fall. Before I could respond I watched a teenager jump off his bike and run over to help her. He helped her up and he walked her to a bench. He sat next to her for a few minutes to make sure she was alright. She was able to get up and continue her walk. He got back on his bike, continued his journey, turned around and waved goodbye.

So often we are in such a hurry we don’t see anyone around us, especially those that are crying out for our help. We miss those moments for random kindness and compassion for which our world is in desperate need.

Spring is in the air; the flowers are blooming. For Christians around the world, we are in the midst of another new season of hope! Maybe it’s an opportunity for personal renewal, for a renewed focus on what’s really important, a focus that is centered more on people and not systems, more on loving and not hating, more on doing and not just being.

The fire in Paris gave us a moment to see humanity at its best. Let’s keep it going!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

Above, flowers at a makeshift memorial for the victims of the mass shooting in New Zealand

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

On March 15, halfway around the world another horrific act of violence and hatred marred our world. Two mosques in New Zealand were viciously attacked and 50 innocent people were senselessly killed and countless others wounded because of their Muslim faith.

This particular act of hatred is even more depraved and despicable because it happened in a sacred house of worship. Traditionally all houses of worship are supposed to be safe havens for people who want to pray, rest and find peace.

Once again we are reminded of the infectious hate that wounds, blinds, divides and often kills. This hate is being perpetuated by a small group of narrow-minded people who have little or no respect for the sanctity of all human life, no matter what your color, your race, your nationality, your sexual orientation or your socioeconomic status.

In a free society, respect and inclusiveness of all people is foundational. We must continually give voice to these vital principles. Our nation was founded on religious freedom — not for certain religions, but for all religions! All houses of worship must be respected as well as everyone’s holy book.

This unfortunate tragedy in New Zealand reminds us that we still have so much more work to do in the areas of tolerance, respect, inclusiveness, acceptance and diversity on every level.

Words matter, especially when they come from people in authority and leadership. We all must confront hateful rhetoric, especially when and where it erupts. It should not matter who is using it. Hateful rhetoric is hateful rhetoric. No one is exempt from being held accountable in this regard.

We cannot pick and choose who we call out on their hateful speech. Hatefulness has no boundaries, no color, no class, no religion, no sexual orientation or economic status.

When our synagogues, churches and mosques are violated with hate and violence, it must be a call to action for all caring human beings everywhere. We must have the courage to stand up and confront the violent hate-mongers head-on.

Our silence is destructive. Unfortunately, it is seen by some as an affirmation of this vile behavior. Our message must be loud and clear. There are no exceptions, no excuses! There is no room in our country for violent, hateful destructive rhetoric and people.

We need to have the courage to work more aggressively and advocate for positive change in our country. We can no longer excuse the violent reprehensible and hateful behavior that erupted in New Zealand. Actions speak louder than words!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

All the major religious traditions at their core espouse love, forgiveness and respect.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Over the last few weeks we have read much about racism, bigotry and discrimination that continues to infect our social landscape. We have also seen the double standard when it comes to holding people accountable for the poor choices they have made.

Accountability seems to be a concept sadly missing in our civil discourse. Freedom of speech is a basic human right guaranteed by our Constitution. However, that right does not allow people to publicly disrespect and degrade others because we disagree with them.

Let’s take a moment and reflect on the social rhetoric that is infecting our civil discourse on a regular basis. Some feel that they have the right to say and do whatever they want even if it’s at the expense of someone’s character and integrity grounded in no fact or reality.

It becomes increasingly difficult to hold people accountable when those who lead us on both sides of the aisle live with a double standard; when our religious leaders live by a double standard. We have the right to hold any opinion we wish. We do not have the right to impose our opinion on others or demean them if we disagree. Basic human respect for the dignity of every person seems to be buried in the rubble of hateful speech and countless people making excuses for that hatefulness.

All the major religious traditions at their core espouse love, forgiveness and respect. It is unacceptable to use religion as a manipulative tool to justify basic hate, discrimination and bigotry. Our religious community has to move beyond their silence and speak to the issue of respect for all people, no matter what their social and/or political circumstance.

In early September a few years ago, a Jewish family was celebrating a Jewish holy day. The public schools in the community were closed to respect and honor the Jewish community. The family came home from temple and found a white swastika painted on their driveway. Needless to say, they were devastated.

Upon investigation, local law enforcement discovered that two Christian eighth-grade boys who were classmates of the boy who was a member of this family painted that hateful symbol on their driveway. Those young men did not know that the boy’s grandmother lived with them and that she was a survivor of the Holocaust.

Law enforcement took the two boys responsible for this horrific act, arrested them and charged them with a hate crime. The two boys were friends with the Jewish boy whose home they violated with that horrific symbol.

Unfortunately, that hateful act polarized that small community. Some felt people overreacted to a childish prank, stating boys were boys just playing around with no harm or disrespect intended. Others felt people minimized the severity of that act of hate and felt the young men should be held fully accountable for their reckless decision-making.

The victimized family, especially the Holocaust survivor, did not want to prosecute the guilty boys, but they did want them to be held accountable and helped to understand how profoundly hurtful their prank was.

After many conversations back and forth with law enforcement and the local school officials, the elderly Holocaust survivor suggested that the boys apologize before her temple community and participate in a full school assembly on the need for respect and tolerance of people from every walk of life and at that assembly apologize for being so hurtful.

The boys agreed. The charges were dropped and what was once a hateful act became an opportunity to learn a real-life lesson about respect, tolerance and accountability.

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The American landscape continues to be burdened with conflict, dishonesty and ineffective leadership at every level of government. As I write this column, more than 800,000 federal employees will not be paid because of a government shutdown. They unfortunately are being held captive by a government that is paralyzed on both sides of the aisle.

As the New Year begins, let’s not be distracted by a political rhetoric that is more fixated on ad hominem attacks and divisiveness, but rather let us support positive action on behalf of all Americans.

Our country is founded on the principle of “we the people.” We must renew our commitment to stand up for social justice, for equality and inclusiveness for all people, no matter what their ethnicity, race, color, sexual orientation, economic or social status.

The leaders of our faith community, both locally and nationally, must move out of their coma of silence, not become political or feed the rhetoric of hate and divisiveness, but rather they must stand up and call us to civility and a discourse that supports and respects the human dignity and integrity of every American citizen.

At the beginning of every New Year, we traditionally make a series of New Year’s resolutions that we break by Jan. 2. This year let’s identify some important social issues that urgently need to be addressed and work diligently at creative solutions that will improve the quality of life in all of our communities.

Homelessness is a growing problem across our county. Our traditional approach is a poor Band-Aid that sets most homeless up for failure. The poor and the homeless live in the shadows. They’ve no fixed address so they have no political representation — no one to voice their concerns and struggles.

Our Department of Health and Human Services, which is charged to deal with the homeless, is working with an antiquated model that is outdated and inefficient, therefore costing you, the taxpayer, an extraordinary amount of money and does little to break the cycle of poverty and homelessness in our midst.

Let us be mindful that more and more of our homeless are mentally ill, drug addicts and returning veterans suffering from untreated PTSD. We lack the basic human resources to break their cycle of dependency on the system.

The opioid crisis is worse than it was last year. As I write this column, I buried two more young people who died senselessly because of this epidemic.

The president of the United States called the opioid epidemic a national health crisis. It is, but again we pay lip service to a national infection but are doing little to treat it effectively. Evidence-based treatment says we need long-term residential treatment beds for a minimum of one year to 18 months, if we hope to empower the recovering addict to wellness and long-term recovery.

We have very limited resources in this regard. The few resources we do have are overtaxed with referrals and are underfunded. The time for talking is over; it’s time for positive action!

These two issues are massive. However, I am optimistic that we have the people and the resources to make a difference. We need to think outside the box, be creative, be willing to risk and most importantly believe we can make a difference that counts. I do!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The Christmas season is upon us. The village of Port Jefferson is decked out with lights and wreaths — there is definitely a spirit of Christmas in the air. 

The world is a crazy place. The violence and hate has become infectious, but the reason for the season has taken a hold of us once again in a number of places. People are reaching out and bridging differences. 

One such instance is Christmas Magic, an event that magically touches hearts old and young alike with the spirit of giving, sharing and serving others. Started more than 25 years ago by a young attorney who wanted his children to understand the real meaning of Christmas, his act of kindness and generosity has touched thousands of people across our county every Christmas season. 

Hundreds of caring high school students to college students, from youth programs and church communities sacrifice their time and reach out to thousands of children living in our shelters during the holiday season.

Close to 3,000 people gathered at Carnegie Hall on the second Monday in December this year for a Christmas concert. The headliners were powerful: Andy Cooney and his band, the Hibernian Festival Singers, the Irish Tenors, the New York Tenors and eight young men who have become a band of brothers supported by an extraordinary female voice that makes the H.I.M.S. and Her such an extraordinary musical talent.

This band of brothers are young men who are broken and wounded, from all over, trying to reclaim their lives while living in a long-term nontraditional treatment program for addictions. The story of these men is a story of powerful change and transformation. Their performance at Carnegie Hall brought that packed house of concertgoers to their feet. It was a night of inspiration to remember.

A few days before their performance at Carnegie Hall these gifted and talented men volunteered to sing Christmas carols at the retirement home for the Dominican Sisters at their motherhouse in Amityville. I started to visit these sisters every Advent because I’m a product of Dominican education. In my junior high school years, I was profoundly influenced by three very dynamic women of faith. This has been my simple way of saying thank you.

After serving the church in a variety of leadership roles for more than 50 years, my former eighth-grade teacher took a job at Pax Christi, an emergency men’s shelter in Port Jefferson. She began working five days a week until she was 85 years old cleaning toilets, making beds and bringing hope to countless men who thought their lives were hopeless.

Today Sr. Beata is in her mid-90s. She is still as sharp as can be but has a difficult time getting around. The sisters she lives with range in age from their mid-70s to 107 years old. 

After caroling that Saturday morning, the young men walked among these extraordinary women hugging and kissing them; the room was aglow. The sister who is 107 years old came over to me to thank me for bringing these young men. She said it was her greatest Christmas present. All her family has died and her friends as well. She has no visitors. After one of the young men hugged her she started to cry. She hadn’t been hugged in over a year and she said thank you for helping her feel alive again.

As we drove home, these men on the road to recovery and wellness were on fire — not realizing how in their brokenness with their simple carols they brought so much joy to a community of women who were such a source of hope and light for so many generations.

Christmas seems to be that time of year to remind each other of the profound goodness that lives within each of us and to be conscious that each one of us has the power to make a difference that really does count.

Merry Christmas!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Midterm elections are complete. We need to continue to stand up and give voice to social justice and human rights for all. Those we have elected and re-elected are there to serve us, “We the People,” not special interests, not a particular party but all of us. We have a responsibility to hold those who hold public office to serious accountability. They need to support the issues that are most important to the constituents they represent.

As the holiday season approaches, we need to put the divisive, disrespectful rhetoric of this past election season behind us. Let us look for new ways to build bridges with our differences instead of building walls. Let us engage in conversations that are inclusive and life-giving. Even if after the conversation is complete we agree to disagree, let us still embrace a spirit of respect for one another and keep the door open to new conversations that can make our communities better and stronger.

For Thanksgiving, I am forever grateful to our community. In our diversity is also the foundation of our greatness. I have seen firsthand this community build strong bridges that transcend racial, religious, social, political and economic issues; we are better for these bridges.

We’re not perfect, but in our imperfection we continue to feed the poor, to provide shelter and support for the homeless and to afford mental health services for those who are overwhelmed with life and so much more.

Our local hospitals, our fire departments, our ambulance services are on call 24/7 to respond to any kind of human trauma and/or tragedy. They are among the most compassionate and giving people I have ever been privileged to know; their self-sacrifice and service to others is an inspiration.

Our local schools are among the best in the state and probably the nation. Maryhaven Center of Hope is a historical landmark within our community. For more than 100 years, its compassionate and comprehensive services have provided invaluable support for the most vulnerable among us.

We are blessed to have a wide range of religious traditions actively engaged in our larger community, reminding us regularly of the importance to love, to forgive and to be generous to those in need without judgment or exclusion. Our religious leaders have consistently been an invaluable source of wisdom and support for our diverse community.

As I get ready to celebrate my 39th Thanksgiving in Port Jefferson, I will especially give God thanks for our community that reminds me every day that hope lives and must be the anthem of our souls! I am forever grateful for our community’s warmth, generosity and service. A blessed Thanksgiving to all and thank you!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

The H.I.M.S. and Her

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Since I last wrote this column, so much has happened that underscores that we have lost our moral compass. The confirmation process of our most recent Supreme Court Justice was an embarrassment. The behavior on the part of all involved on both sides of the aisle including the White House was reprehensible.

Have we lost all respect for the integrity and dignity of the human person? True leaders lead by personal example and respect. The moral decay has become infectious. The search for the truth has become inconsequential.

Meanwhile, on the home front parents continue to senselessly bury their children of all ages due to the opioid epidemic, and our national health crisis seems to have no real end in sight.

For all the circular rhetoric around this issue, we still have no additional beds for long-term residential treatment. Insurance companies continue to murder our most vulnerable by telling them to try outpatient treatment first; and if they fail, then they will pay for residential care, which for the record is down to less than 11 days!

Those that we have elected to lead us and protect us are clearly uneducated and clueless in regards to the devastation of this epidemic.

One outraged mother met with a group of parents and a local congressional person to voice their concerns for his lack of support on this issue and his support of the insurance industry. One of the mothers spoke out and said: “I did what you told us to do; I tried outpatient treatment for my son and he failed!” She then placed the cremated ashes of her son on his desk. The congressperson said nothing!

Despite all of this negativity, hope continues to give me strength to fight the good fight. On Oct. 20 at the Shoreham Country Club, a band that came together in early recovery did a benefit concert. They were amazing. They are known as the H.I.M.S. (Hope Inspired Men Sing) and Her. It was a refreshing evening of music that was filled with hope, change and transformation. People do recover and reclaim their lives after addiction!

The event was the idea of a retired lawyer from Shoreham who wanted to raise awareness around the affliction of addiction and also raise money that could help the recovery effort that is happening at Hope Academy on the grounds of Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai. Thanks to her efforts more than $4,000 was raised that night.

On Sunday afternoon, at the dynamic Mount Sinai Congregational Church in Mount Sinai, that community installed a new pastor, the Rev. Phil Holson. The celebration was filled with joy, gratitude and renewed hopefulness.

The Mount Sinai Congregational Church has been a prophetic voice in our midst. As a local faith community, members don’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk! 

This is evidenced in their mission statement that is quite inclusive. It states as a congregation they are committed to justice and all are welcome — regardless of age, race, abilities, economic or marital status, gender, sexual orientation or gender identification. They state they are a church that is open and affirming of all people, as we are all made in the image of God.

For almost four decades, I have seen this church community in action. Their commitment to social justice is an inspiration! Welcome Pastor Phil to the neighborhood! Thanks for saying yes — we need another prophetic voice in our midst!

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Another school year has begun. In the more than three decades that I have had the privilege of teaching college and graduate students, I have never had a class that I did not love and learn from. I continue to be amazed at their openness and enthusiasm about life.

Their love for others, their concern for the environment and their desire to leave the planet better than how they found it continues to inspire me to do my small part at making the world a better place.

Every fall semester I teach an honors sociology class at Suffolk County Community College in Selden, one of our best-kept secrets in higher education. Usually by my second class, I ask my students how many are registered to vote, and then take a count on how many are not registered to vote. It is always a mix on who is and who is not registered.

After the question about voter registration, I ask how many intend to vote. This semester I was shocked at how many indicated that they had no intention or desire to vote. The conversation that erupted after that statement was deeply troubling. Most of my students feel that their vote is meaningless and that their voice does not matter at all. They believe that our country is led by special interests and not by those elected to represent the people.

Even more disturbing was my question about the issues. What are they? Who do they affect? Some could articulate some of the national issues like gun safety and a broken immigration system. Very few could identify or articulate the local issues like health care, high taxes and affordable housing to name a few. 

What was really troubling is that this group of students who are among the brightest of the bright who may go on to Harvard or Yale, have no foundation on the core values of our nation and how it works.

We in education need to revisit this issue and reassess how we are preparing the next generation of American leaders. What are we doing in our junior high and in our high schools civics classes? Are we teaching our students to be critical thinkers and analytical writers? Are we discussing the important social issues of our times and helping them to understand what it means to be sociologically mindful?

They are the next generation of leaders that need to salvage our democracy and protect human rights for all. We need to work harder to prepare the next generation to become our future leaders. Our democracy demands it and our country desperately needs them.

Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

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