Religion

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The Island Christian Church in Port Jefferson will soon be officially called Harborview Christian Church. Photo by Kyle Barr

The Island Christian Church in Port Jefferson will soon be under a new name, Harborview Christian Church.

The well-known church at the corner of East Main and Prospect streets hung a banner from its porch declaring its name change. Rev. Pete Jansson said the church is splitting off as a branch of Island Christian, with the other, much larger site in Northport. 

“It’s a step of faith,” the reverend said. 

He said when the two branches of the church went up, it was said that if the two became too distinct they would have to look into separation. The Northport branch is a much larger campus and congregation, with many more church programs for multiple age groups and other, larger events. The smaller church in Port Jeff, he said, had become distinct in both its activities and number of churchgoers.

The church hung the banner off its porch to get residents used to the name before becoming a fully separate church starting the first Sunday of January 2020. 

Splitting off also has some disadvantages, namely the church having to fully pay its own bills, meaning more dependence on the donations of churchgoers instead of having the backing of the larger branch. 

“We’re dependent on paying our own bills,” Jansson said. “But we feel God is moving us in that direction.”

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Ashely McFaul-Erwin is the new community outreach pastor for the Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo provided by Ashley McFaul-Erwin

In its quest to connect more closely with the community, the Setauket Presbyterian Church has created a new position: community outreach pastor. 

Taking on the new role is Ashley McFaul-Erwin, a native of Northern Ireland who recently pastored in Nashville. Arriving this summer with her wife Erica, McFaul-Erwin has been busy working and getting to know the Three Village area.

Interim Pastor Kate Jones-Calone said creating the new position was part of the congregation’s mission planning study conducted a couple of years ago. What came out of that study was the goal to create a deeper connection with the community as well as serve it.

Part of McFaul-Erwin’s responsibility will be heading up the Open Door Exchange, the church’s outreach program in Port Jefferson created to collect gently used furniture to distribute to those in need. She also has been organizing programming to encourage conversations about gun violence in America and what to do about it.

McFaul-Erwin, a a native of Northern Ireland, has joined the Setauket church as community outreach pastor. Photo provided by Ashley McFaul-Erwin.

Jones-Calone said a search committee was formed to find candidates, and when they found McFaul-Erwin, they were thrilled. The interim pastor describes her new co-worker as a warm, open and authentic person.

“We knew pretty quickly that she was someone who brings not only significant experience working with community-based organizations but also this wonderful ability to connect with people which will be so important with her work within the congregation and for the ways she helps the congregation connect with the community around us,” Jones-Calone said.

McFaul-Erwin has an array of experience including work with the Presbyterian Church in Ireland in a low-income area of Belfast. In 2011, she traveled to Nashville, where she was ordained seven years later. In addition to pastoring services, she has worked with former gang members and women battling addiction in various outreach programs. 

The community outreach pastor said when learning about the congregation she was impressed with the community connection they have already established, especially with Open Door Exchange, which celebrates its fifth anniversary next year.

“I’m really impressed,” she said. “It feels like a church that isn’t just content to stay within four walls. They’re already out there doing some of the work.”

The pastor said the congregation is looking to see how they can serve those who have fallen through the cracks when it comes to receiving help, and she is currently trying to identify those needs.

“I feel like I’m doing a lot of listening right now with the people in the church and the community to find out what are some of the needs that folks need to have met,” McFaul-Erwin said.

“This role kind of felt like it was bringing my two worlds together in one position,” McFaul-Erwin said. 

Recently, residents were welcomed to the church to watch a documentary on gun violence and an upcoming event will feature a speaker discussing the importance of writing letters to elected officials about the issue. Pointing to recent mass shootings motivated by hate, the pastor said the issue is not just about access to guns but also how people care and think about each other, and she’s passionate about those with different views coming together and having conversations.

The pastor said when she first moved to the States, she was surprised how it was easier to access guns here than in her birth country, especially in Tennessee where many openly carry firearms. When it comes to the gun debate, the outreach pastor said she can sympathize due to past turmoil in Northern Ireland. She said being born in 1987, she only remembers the tail end of the Troubles, a violent ethno-nationalist conflict in her country, but she saw how long it took for both sides to heal.

“We all have to do the work of gun control but also the work of healing different communities and bringing folks together,” she said. “Nothing changed in Northern Ireland until people on different sides started to talk to each other.”

McFaul-Erwin is ready for her new role, and she said her strengths include bringing people together and listening to them.

“I kind of just see people for who they are and don’t let whatever labels around them be a barrier in that relationship,” she said.

 

The use of Narcan is demonstrated on a dummy during a training class. File photo by Elana Glowatz

At Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine, a new generation of doctors and dentists are involved in a novel approach to managing the opioid epidemic. The training includes instruction from reformed narcotic users, who act as teachers.

A 25-year-old woman recently explained to the first-year students how she became addicted to opioids at the age of 15, when a friend came over with Vicodin prescribed by a dentist after a tooth extraction.

Addiction, she said, is like having a deep itch inside that desperately needs to be scratched.

“There was nothing that could stand between me and getting high,” said the young woman, who wants to remain anonymous. “Most of the time it was my only goal for the day. At $40 a pill, I quickly switched to heroin which costs $10.” 

The university’s Assistant Dean for Clinical Education Dr. Lisa Strano-Paul, who helped coordinate the session, said that “patients as teachers” is widely practiced in medical education. This is the first year reformed narcotic users are participating in the program.

“People’s stories will stick with these medical students for the rest of their lives,” she said. “Seeing such an articulate woman describe her experiences was impactful.”

Gerard Fischer, a doctor of dental surgery candidate from St. James, took part in the patient-as-teacher session on narcotics.

“You learn empathy, a quality people want to see in someone practicing medicine,“ Fischer said. “People don’t choose to become addicted to narcotics. So, you want to understand.”

After working in dental offices over the last several years, he’s noticed that habits for prescribing painkillers are changing.

“Dental pain is notoriously uncomfortable because it’s in your face and head,” he said. “No one wants a patient to suffer.” Pain management, though, requires walking a fine line, he added, saying, “Patient awareness is increasing, so many of them now prefer to take ibuprofen and acetaminophen rather than a prescription narcotic, which could be a reasonable approach.”

Hearing the young woman tell her story, he said, will undoubtedly influence his decision-making when he becomes a practicing dentist. 

An estimated 180 medical and dental students attended the training last month. Overall, Strano-Paul said she’s getting positive feedback from the medical students about the session. 

The woman who overcame addiction and shared her insights with the medical professionals, also found the experience rewarding. 

We respect her request to remain anonymous and are grateful that she has decided to share her story with TBR News Media. For the rest of this article, we shall refer to her as “Claire.” 

Faith, hope and charity

“I told the doctors that recovery has nothing to do with science,” Claire said. “They just looked at me.”

Claire was addicted to drugs and alcohol for seven years and went to rehab 10 times over the course of five years. 

“I did some crazy things, I jumped out of a car while it was moving,” Claire said, shaking her head in profound disbelief.

She leapt from the vehicle, she said, the moment she learned that her family was on their way to a rehab facility. Fortunately, she was unharmed and has now been off pain pills and drugs for close to six years. She no longer drinks alcohol.

“Yes, it is possible to recover from addiction,” Claire said. 

People with addiction issues feel empty inside, Claire explained, while gently planting her fist in her sternum. She said that once her counselor convinced her to pray for help and guidance, she was able to recover.

“Somehow praying opens you up,” she said. 

Claire was raised Catholic and attended Catholic high school but says that she’s not a religious person. 

“I said to my counselor, “How do I pray, if I don’t believe or know if there’s a God?” 

She came to terms with her spirituality by appreciating the awe of nature. She now prays regularly. Recovery, she said, is miraculous.

Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step regimen, first published in 1939 in the post-Depression era, outlines coping strategies for better managing life. Claire swears by the “big book,” as it’s commonly called. She carefully read the first 165 pages with a counselor and has highlighted passages that taught her how to overcome addictions to opioids and alcohol. Being honest, foregoing selfishness, praying regularly and finding ways to help others have become reliable sources of her strength.

Spirituality is the common thread Claire finds among the many people she now knows who have recovered from addiction.

The traditional methods of Alcohol Anonymous are helping people overcome addiction to opioids.

Medication-assisted therapy

Personally, Claire recommends abstinence over treating addiction medically with prescription drugs such as buprenorphine. The drug, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration since 2002, is a slow-release opioid that suppresses symptoms of withdrawal. When combined with behavior therapy, the federal government recommends it as treatment for addiction. Medication alone, though, is not viewed as sufficient. The ultimate goal of medication-assisted therapy, as described on the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website on the topic, is a holistic approach to full recovery, which includes the ability to live a self-directed life.

“Medication-assisted therapy should not be discounted,” Strano-Paul said. “It improves the outcome and enables people to hold jobs and addresses criminal behavior tendencies.”

While the assistant dean is not involved with that aspect of the curriculum, the topic is covered somewhat in the clerkship phase of medical education during sessions on pain management and when medical students are involved in more advanced work in the medical training, she said. 

The field, though, is specialized.

The federal government requires additional certification before a medical practitioner can prescribe buprenorphine. Once certified, doctors and their medical offices are further restricted to initially prescribe the medicine to only 30 patients annually. Critics say no other medications have government-mandated patient limits on lifesaving treatment. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, considers the therapy to be “misunderstood” and “greatly underused.” 

In New York state, 111,391 medical practitioners are registered with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe opioids and narcotics. Only 6,908 New York practitioners to date are permitted to prescribe opioids for addiction treatment as at Aug. 31.

Strano-Paul for instance, pointed out that she can prescribe opioids, but is prohibited from prescribing the opioid-based drug used for addiction therapy. 

The narcotics education program is still evolving, Strano-Paul said. 

New medical student training now also includes certification for Narcan, the nasal spray antidote that revives opioid overdose victims. 

“It saves lives,” Strano-Paul said. 

In Suffolk County in 2017, 424 people died from an opioid overdose, which was 41 percent higher than the state average, according to a study titled “The Staggering Cost of Long Island’s Opioid Crisis.” The county is aware of 238 potentially lifesaving overdose reversals as of June 30 attributed to Narcan this year alone. Since 2012, Narcan has helped to save the lives of 3,864 people in the county. 

As for Claire, now a mother, she delivered her children through C-section. In the hospital, she was offered prescription opioids for pain. 

“No one will ever see me again, if you give me those pills,” she said.                

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First United Methodist Church in Port Jefferson. Photo by Kyle Barr

A new pastor of the First United Methodist Church of Port Jefferson will be taking over the reins of the venerable church starting July 1.

The New York Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church appointed Pastor Steve Chu as pastor, replacing Pastor Sandra J. Moore who has served the local church for three years. Pastor Chu currently serves as the Youth and English Ministry Pastor at Plainview UMC and prior to this appointment held positions in Herndon and Arlington, Virginia. He holds a Master of Divinity from Wesley Theological Seminary and an undergraduate degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York. 

The First United Methodist Church on Main Street, Port Jefferson has a long history in the community. The current building was erected in 1893 by Loper Brothers while the original chapel had been established on Thompson Street. The parsonage next door was purchased in 1930 and is still used today as a pastoral home. In 1961, the former New York Telephone Company brick building was purchased to hold Sunday school classes and now a day care program. The church is committed to Thanksgiving donations for needy families, sharing with patients at nursing homes, community concerts, a summer chicken barbecue and Christmas fair/cookie walk during the Charles Dickens
Festival weekend. 

On July 14, a welcome barbecue is being planned to follow the church service. People are asked to come and meet the new pastor.

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Harbor Grill says it will change its dress code to allow religiously significant headwear.

Harbor Grill in Port Jefferson said it has a policy against headwear during Friday and Saturday nights. Photo by Kyle Barr

A young Stony Brook University graduate said he was barred from entering Port Jeff’s Harbor Grill the early morning of Sunday, May 12, because he wears a turban, a religiously significant headwear.

Gurvinder Grewal, 23, who graduated in 2018, said he went out the night of May 11 past midnight to hang out with friends. His companions were already in the Harbor Grill restaurant and bar, and he was having his ID checked when he was stopped and told by a manager he was not allowed in with “a head covering.” Harbor Grill has a weekend dress code for Friday and Saturday nights after 10 p.m. restricting all headwear, though the policy made no explicit exceptions for clothing of religious significance.

Grewal, a medical scribe at CityMD, said he tried to explain his situation as he is a Sikh, whose religion stems from Punjab in northern India. Male practitioners wear turbans as articles of faith, and are not meant to remove the headwear in public.

“Never had any experience like this in my life.”

— Gurvinder Grewal

Not trying to hold up the line of people trying to get in, he went to the back of the line and came up a second time, only to be rebuffed again, and was told it was due to the restaurant’s policy on headwear.

“[I] was shocked and embarrassed,” the graduate said. “Never had any experience like this in my life.”

A Facebook post from Harbor Grill said Grewal’s black-colored turban seemed at the time “would be more widely perceived as the slang term ‘[do-]rag’ or a ‘stocking cap’ and not a traditional turban.” It said the original rule was put in place because a rule that singled out specific groups would itself be “discriminatory.”

Tom Schafer, the owner of Harbor Grill, said he has chided the manager in question and has told him to use his better judgment in cases like this. He added he plans to speak to the rest of his staff and implement a new Friday and Saturday night dress-code policy of no headwear excluding religiously required headwear, for example yarmulkes and turbans. The new code will be posted near the front door.

“I don’t have an inkling of prejudice in any way,” Schafer said. “The code was not meant to be discriminating, it was solely for the safety of patrons and staff.”

Grewal said that he was glad to see them changing the dress code, but he found the comment about his turban looking like “a do-rag” to be problematic, especially since he described it several times as a turban to the manager.

Barbara Ransome, director of operations for Port Jeff Chamber of Commerce, said the policy at Harbor Grill was to better identify troublemakers in a crowd and, as a private property, the owner is allowed to make that decision. Just as in the case of drugs cenforce that will be sold online. At the same time, the barring of a person over religious garment would cross over into First Amendment territory.

“Their staff may need to be educated,” she said.

The SBU graduate said he told the manager he had been let inside the establishment last year, back when Harbor Grill was then named Schafer’s. He said he was told the policy on headgear was a new policy.

Several other students and graduates of SBU, who did not wish to be named in this article, all confirmed watching Grewal be denied entry.

“The code was not meant to be discriminating, it was solely for the safety of patrons and staff.”

— Tom Schafer

Bansri Shah, a digital media/pre-law student at SBU, posted a message to Facebook about the situation, saying she felt it was especially concerning considering the diversity of students from the nearby university.

“Honestly, I never expected this type of action taken from an establishment in Port Jeff considering the racial diversity in a college town right next door, Stony Brook, but I think it’s really messed up,” Shah said in her original Facebook post.

In a conversation over Facebook messenger, Shah said she arrived as several people were trying to talk to the bouncer about what happened, but they were ignored.

Port Jefferson Mayor Margot Garant said she had messaged both Shah and Grewal and had told the latter she was sorry about what had allegedly happened to him, and that “this does not reflect the tenor or tone of the policies of the Village of Port Jefferson.” She also suggested to him his first step would be to file a police report if he wished to commit to any penal or civil legal action.

“I didn’t want that incident to become a black eye on the village,” the mayor said. “Anybody of race, color, sexuality, we embrace and invite everyone here.”

The graduate said he plans to file a police report and pursue some sort of legal action.

“I was just really surprised that something like this happened to me at a college bar,” he said. “I always read online and on social media about Sikhs and other minorities facing similar situations, but never thought that I would face the situation in my life living on Long Island.”

This post has been amended to correct the origins of Sikhism.

On March 28, North Shore residents of various faiths gathered in Selden to show their support for Muslims around the world.

In response to the March 15 terrorist attacks in New Zealand mosques, a prayer vigil was held outside the Islamic Association of Long Island where more than 100 people, including members from the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association and Building Bridges in Brookhaven, held hands and formed a ring around the mosque during a moment of silence. The symbol of solidarity took place after a brief prayer led by Rabbi Paul Sidlofsky of Temple Isaiah of Stony Brook.

Syed Rahman, current president of the Islamic Association of Long Island, said he was touched by the number of attendees.

“I’m glad so many people made the time to come over with busy workday schedules,” he said. “This is a big turnout. I think this is the biggest turnout since I’ve been president.”

Tom Lyon, a member of Building Bridges in Brookhaven, said more than half a dozen people from the organization attended. One of the group’s founding principles, he said, is based on a motto the members adapted when it was formed — “The most radical thing we can do is to introduce people to each other.”

“Sadly, on Long Island today, developing a diversity of friendships requires far more effort than it should,” Lyon said.

Rev. Steven Kim, pastor of Setauket United Methodist Church, who is also part of the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association, attended the event.

“It was a night for Three Village residents to stand by the Islamic community regardless of our religions or persuasions in the wake of the tragedy in New Zealand,” he said. “It would be beneficial for us to pursue further opportunities in enhancing the mutual understanding and assuring the same humanity among the different ethnic and religious groups in our community.”

After the prayer vigil, the Three Village Interfaith Clergy Association hosted a discussion held inside the mosque titled “Belief and Truth from a Multifaith Perspective: Finding Unity in Diversity.” Professor Chris Sellers of Stony Brook University’s history department and director of the Center for the Study of Inequality and Social Justice moderated the discussion.

In response to the March 15 terrorist attacks in New Zealand mosques, the Long Island Inclusive Communities Against Hate organized outreach events. Members of the Huntington Jewish Center presented baskets and gifts last week as a gesture of solidarity to members of Masjid Noor mosque and Huntington Muslim Youth Outreach. The groups celebrated Purim together, a Jewish holiday filled with feasting and rejoicing, that commemorates the saving of Jewish people from persecution during the ancient Persian empire.

Huntington resident Wajma Halimi-Modaser expressed gratitude for the gesture in a Facebook post. 

“Appreciation and humbleness do not begin to describe how members of Masjid Noor felt by the kind and selfless sentiments displayed by members of the Huntington Jewish Center,” he said. “They took the opportunity to use this event to come visit and share their traditions. At the same time, show their sympathy. It is so wonderful to have support, love and respect for each other, especially during times of tragedy.”

The Masjid Noor Mosque also held March 22 an interfaith prayer service one week after the New Zealand massacres. Representatives from local school districts attended the service including Harborfields Central School District, Elwood Union Free School District and South Huntington Union Free School District.  

“We gathered regardless of our faith, color, race, social background or age to send one specific message,” Laraki Zakia said in a Facebook post. “We were sending a message of love, forgiveness and hope, as well as vigilance and alertness, ready to look after one another and having each other’s back as one strong and loving community.”

The group also held and interfaith vigil March 22 with local clergy and Sen. Gaughran at the Masjid Noor mosque in Huntington. 

From left, Tamar Cohen, Leah Ada Klein, Julia Berger and Max Kaylakov with their trophies at the award ceremony. Photo from The Chai Center

Winners from regional JewQ Championships from around the United States and abroad came together to face off at the international championships in Brooklyn on March 3.

Thousands of JewQ students in grades 3 to 6 from Hebrew schools around the globe learned and were tested on a wide range of Jewish knowledge, such as basic prayers, blessings, Jewish holidays, Torah traditions and more.

Students with the top scores were invited to spend a Shabbat together in Crown Heights and compete in the final round of JewQ in front of a live audience.

Dix Hills resident Max Kaylakov of The Chai Center Hebrew School was crowned the Sixth-Grade international JewQ champ. Max is a student at Candlewood Middle School in the Half Hollow Hills Central School District.

Other winners of the contest were Tamar Cohen representing the Chabad Hebrew School of Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, in the third-grade division; Leah Ada Klein representing Chabad of Niagara Falls, Ontario, in the fourth-grade division; and Julia Berger from the Chabad of Port Washington Hebrew School in Port Washington, in the fifth-grade division.

“It is incredible to see the vast amount of knowledge Max and all the children learned in a few short months,” said Rabbi Dovid Weinbaum, youth director of The Chai Center. “My hope is this will inspire them to want to learn more about Judaism and the world around them.”

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.

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John McNamara. Photo from Ray O'Sullivan

By David Luces

Described as a man who has devoted his time to the community and his faith, John McNamara was genuinely surprised when he received the news from the Friends of St. Patrick organization that he was chosen to be the grand marshal of the 69th Miller Place-Rocky Point St. Patrick’s Day Parade. 

“I was shocked and pleasantly surprised,” he said.  

McNamara and his wife, Kathy, have lived in Rocky Point since 1978 where they raised four children: Erin, John, Mark and Kathleen, and now the couple has six grandchildren. He has been involved over the years with the St. Louis de Montfort Church in Sound Beach in teaching and ministry. He is also involved in his local parishes, namely St. Anthony of Padua Church in Rocky Point and St. Mark’s Parish in Shoreham where he has been a youth minister since 1979. He also taught at Maria Regina High School in Uniondale. 

Scene from the Miller Place-Rocky Point Friends of St. Patrick’s parade. File Photo by Bob Savage

The Rocky Point resident acknowledged that being named the grand marshal is a great honor, and he is excited to be a part of the parade and for his family to be there as well. 

“When I told my family the news, they were very happy and surprised — just like I was,”
he said. 

McNamara is excited for his grandchildren to be a part of the festivities as they carry banners along the parade route. 

On March 17, McNamara will lead the nearly three-mile march down Route 25A. He said the  parade is a way of thanking the community for all they do. 

Ray O’Sullivan, secretary for the Friends of St. Patrick has known McNamara for most of his life through the St. Louis de Montfort Church. 

“He is a good man — a holy man,” he said. “We came to the decision to name John the grand marshal this year.”

O’Sullivan said McNamara is well-known for serving the community and that generations of people know him through his work in
the churches. 

This year’s Miller Place-Rocky Point Parade will also honor James O’Sullivan, who passed away in January, 2017. He was a former president of Friends of St. Patrick and was a member of the organization for over 60 years.

“Jimmy was a great fellow,” McNamara said. “He was a great guy and a caring man who loved helping the community. His sons are members of the organization and continue to do his work.”

O’Sullivan said that his father was the Grand Marshal of the 1965 parade and held every position in the Friends of St. Patrick’s organization. He would work hours before the parade started to make sure everything was ready to go.

“He gave everything to the organization,” O’Sullivan said. “The parade meant everything to my dad because of his heritage,”

Ray’s father came to the United States from Ireland in the mid 1950s and his uncle John Sullivan started the parade in 1950.

“He is a good man — a holy man.”

— Ray O’Sullivan

“Miller Place and Rocky Point was his adopted home, and he wanted to serve the community,” O’Sullivan said.

The Rocky Point High School Marching Band, the Patriot Brass Ensemble and the Colonial Fife and Drum are just a handful of groups that will be participating in this year’s parade

The Friends of St. Patrick will also host a Luck of the Irish Casino Night, March 8 from 7 to 11 p.m. at The East Wind resort in Wading River. The casino night will serve as the main fundraiser for the parade. The queen and her court for the Rocky Point-Miller Place St. Patrick’s Day Parade will be crowned, and the grand marshal formally introduced at the event as well. There will be a buffet dinner and an open bar. Tickets are $75 per person. For more information on the event visit
www.friendsofstpatrick.org.