Tags Posts tagged with "Father Frank"

Father Frank

Pixabay photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

The pandemic has changed the course of human history forever. As we move forward beyond all the restrictions, mask wearing and debate around being vaccinated, we are trying to create a new normal. No one is quite sure what that might look like.

Whatever the new normal looks like, we need to transcend all of the political rhetoric and polarization that has infected the soul of our nation. We need to reclaim basic respect for people, no matter what their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation and/or socioeconomic status.

Our vision has become so blurred; our moral compass impaired. Those we have elected to lead us, no matter what their political party, need to lead by example.

Our country was founded on diversity and freedom of speech. However, freedom of speech does not give anyone the right to trample on another person’s freedom or perspective. 

The pandemic has consumed so many of our healthcare resources to care for those infected by the virus. Our healthcare community, with great courage, rose to the occasion and have been heroic in their care for all of our sick. Unfortunately, other healthcare concerns have not had the proper attention. Everyone in leadership, on both the federal and state level, have acknowledged the heroin epidemic is a national healthcare crisis. However, no money promised has reached the rank-and-file providers. Insurance companies continue to determine the financial equation for treatment. The recidivism rate based on their equation is dismal and becoming worse by the day.

Outpatient treatment for the heroin addict is a disaster — 28 days for hard-core relapsers is just the beginning. To tell the truth, most insurance companies will only cover 11 days of residential treatment because they’ve decided that after 11 days it’s not a medical emergency! That’s disgraceful!

It is apparent to me that they have not looked at the evidence-based research in regards to chronic heroin users and relapses. The research is clear — they need a minimum of 12 to 18 months with the hope of reclaiming their lives and developing the skills to sustain a life of abstinence and recovery.

What we are painfully learning is that we need to invest more resources after intensive treatment into transitional supportive services to ensure a recovering person success.

In the last six weeks, I have buried six young people who overdosed and died of heroin and fentanyl. Each of these young persons was in a variety of residential treatment settings. I am one cleric in a small region. Sadly, the number is probably triple that and not getting better.

Addicts do recover and reclaim their lives thanks to a collaborative effort on the part of many. On Memorial Day, a young recovering addict who was once a high school dropout and is now a successful attorney was married in New Jersey to another lawyer. I was privileged to preside at the ceremony and when it was finished, he whispered this to me: “thanks for helping me to reclaim my life. I will never forget you. I will always give back!”

On another positive note, a shout out to our Marine Bureau in Suffolk County. On a Saturday afternoon this month I was driving a boat to Davis Park where I am the pastor. The boat was filled with musicians in recovery who were going to play at the 5 p.m. mass there. We got halfway from Patchogue to Davis Park and the boat overheated. We were drifting in the great South Bay. Two police officers who were finishing their tour at Davis Park came out of their way to tow us in time for mass instead of just signing off. I am forever grateful to these two public servants for their service but also for their power of example for the young men in the boat who witnessed their service and kindness.

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

Photo from Christine Pendergast

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Spring is supposed to be a time for new beginnings. Our spring has been marred by senseless shootings across the country, further inflamed by hateful rhetoric on both sides of the aisle that does not address the real heart of our social mayhem.

The vaccine which is supposed to be used as an instrument of healing in some circles is being used as a weapon. We have elected leaders that don’t lead but rather fuel the discontent and polarization that has become so infectious across our country.

It is springtime. Let’s talk about new beginnings, renewal and another way to talk with each other that is life-giving. Words matter. They can heal and help or hurt and destroy.

We need to challenge those with hurtful and despicable rhetoric to express their strong feelings in words that are respectful — words that don’t incite but rather encourage a deeper and more productive conversation about the things that really matter and have a profound impact on our community.

At the beginning of April, a young 16-year-old female Native American and African-American sophomore in high school wrote an op-ed piece in Newsday entitled “Why I sat for the Pledge of Allegiance.” Social media ripped her apart and she was threatened and harassed.

After reading her opinion piece, I decided to have my college and graduate students take a look at her article and discuss it. I saw for the first time what our future leadership could do. 

These students had a real in-depth conversation on a very delicate topic. It was impressive to see them exercise their well-developed critical thinking skills. They were genuinely sociologically mindful. They looked at every aspect of that student’s opinion. Not all agreed with her choice to be seated but they all agreed with her right to self-expression without harassment. They all condemned the despicable ad hominem attacks and rhetoric directed at her.

Ultimately, every class focused on the injustices she raised which led to a lively conversation of where do we go from here? How do we address these inequalities and hold people more accountable? It was refreshing to listen to the next generation of leaders speak passionately about human rights, social justice and express the desire to be a part of the solution, not part of the problem.

On October 14, 2020, Dr. Christopher Pendergast, a dynamic teacher, motivational speaker and founder of the A.L.S. Ride for Life, died quietly at his home in Miller Place surrounded by his family. He was 71.

On April 28, Dr. Pendergast would have celebrated his 72nd birthday. Although he is no longer with us physically, his spirit lives on with Ride for Life’s mission and his endless acts of kindness and love that he did for so many while he walked among us.

Before he died he and his wife wrote a very powerful book entitled “Blink Spoken Here.” The last words of this exceptional story say “speech is freedom. Communication is the connection to the outside world. We all have a right to speak and to be heard … even if it’s only one blink at a time … Never be afraid to speak up. Your opinions matter.” Amen!

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

Stock photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Spring is here. It is a time for renewed hope. Flowers are blooming; people are out walking. There is light at the end of the tunnel regarding the pandemic that has senselessly stolen more than 1/2 million American lives and left countless families with so much sadness and pain. 

As this new spring is unfolding, once again we are a nation with tremendous grief and sadness for the senseless loss of life in Georgia and Colorado; innocent people gunned down senselessly by two disturbed gunmen with histories of mental illness.

We are painfully reminded once again that racism and hate still lives and is infectious across our country. The national divide takes a few steps toward healing and then it splits again. Children at the border and our broken immigration policy continues to polarize our nation and any kind of productive conversation that might move us closer to a humane resolution of a very complicated and delicate life issue.

We continue to struggle with nationalism and globalism, with human rights and the respect for the dignity of all human beings. It is a sad state of affairs when people of opposing viewpoints, different philosophies and ideologies, can no longer sit at the same table, break bread together and talk heart-to-heart about the issues that matter.

The beauty of our nation is that we have always been a beautiful tapestry of diverse color, thinking and believing — but woven together as one!

Unfortunately, there is a serious tear in this tapestry that is getting worse. The people we have elected need to lead by example, not by being revisionists or obstructionists. They must be agents of healing and unity, leading the way to building new bridges of opportunity and strength. The America we love was founded on diversity and difference; it must be stronger and more unified than ever before.

The hateful rhetoric must stop. We must reclaim our language of respect, compassion and tolerance which is the soul of our nation.

While I was driving home from the college that I teach at on a recent sunny Wednesday afternoon, I passed St. Paul’s Lutheran Church on Route 112 in Port Jefferson Station. In their parking lot were a large group of parishioners and volunteers feeding an endless line of fellow Americans and giving them bags of food to take with them. It was refreshing to see so many people reaching out to others smiling and laughing.

Now that’s the America that I know and love!

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

Interior of the U.S. Capital. Photo from Pixabay

By Fr. Frank Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

Revisionists cause great conflict and tension in every social environment where we find them. I remember in my early college teaching career a well-known historical revisionist was speaking across the country trying to convince college students that the Holocaust never happened. He was eloquent, dynamic and tried to persuade those who would listen that it was a hoax and/or a grand conspiracy.

When we talked about this in class after an article appeared about him in the New York Times, a male student stood up with tears streaming down his face saying “tell my grandmother who escaped from a death camp in Germany with a tattoo on her arm that the Holocaust was a hoax!”

His intervention led to an intense conversation about truth, honesty and what is vital to developing an opinion and/or a viewpoint. We spoke about how all of that must be based on evidence-based research, not mere hearsay or the word of someone who is seen as respectable and credible.

Unfortunately, people lie especially if the lie can advance a project or a program that they value or support. Someone once told me “never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

A group of revisionists have reappeared. They are attempting to rewrite the painful history of January 6, 2021 — the bloody and senseless insurrection that happened in the people’s house — the Capital — that day.

Fact: people marched on the Capital, challenged and encouraged by the former President of the United States to block the certification of the duly elected new president. The thousands who gathered believed that the election was stolen despite credible evidence from both sides of the aisle that it was not.

Unfortunately, more than a month after that horrific event, elected leaders in Washington are continuing to rewrite history and minimize the devastation, pain and suffering of that dark day in American history.

It is important for all Americans, no matter what your party affiliation, to stand up for truth and give voice to justice and peace.

As a nation, we need to heal and move forward. Diversity and difference in opinion and ideology is healthy in a democracy as long as people discuss, debate and disagree with dignity, civility and respect.

Those who lead us must model that behavior, even if some who are in power do not. We must build a new bridge of respect as we try to move forward. We must try to find new ways to build bridges of unity and harmony that empower us to become the best versions of ourselves.

By the way, March is National Social Workers month. Our social workers at every level, like all of our healthcare workers, have really stepped up, gone the distance and then some to support all of us during these challenging times. We should be especially grateful to the social workers working in our schools, our homeless shelters and in our addiction treatment centers. If you see a social worker, take a moment to thank them for their service, a service that really makes a difference!

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

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

This year will truly be one to remember; not because of any extraordinary achievement, but rather it was a year when the world almost stopped and millions of people died around the world because of COVID-19.

In our country alone, more than 1/4 of a million people have senselessly lost their lives. Every day we are breaking a record for people dying from the coronavirus.

Thanksgiving was celebrated in ways that most of us never imagined. So many families had empty plates at their table representing loved ones that could not come home and loved ones who have passed because of the virus. Unfortunately, some people did not heed the recommendations for gathering on Thanksgiving to keep all of us safe. As we prepare for Christmas, the virus is surging.

Christmas time is supposed to be a season where we celebrate renewed hope and gratitude for all the many gifts and blessings we’ve received. We give thanks for all the people who have blessed our life. The Christmas season is always marked with an energy that is transformative.

This year Christmas is going to be very different. However, we really should take pause and give thanks in the midst of all the suffering and struggle for the countless gifts and blessings each of us have. It’s a time to stay focused and mindful of what we have in this present moment. It’s a time to give not out of our excess but out of our need. It’s a time to welcome the stranger as a friend and brother or sister. It’s a time for making peace, healing fractured relationships and building new bridges that cross over troubled waters.

This Christmas season provides us a powerful opportunity to join hands and give voice to the voiceless, to work for social justice and respect for all God’s people, no matter who they are or where they are. This time of year is an opportunity to support the dignity and respect of every human person.

In the midst of our fear and anxiety, this holiday season is a powerful moment to renew and affirm the people and relationships that are most important in our lives. It’s an opportunity to reach out to those that we’ve become distant from and reconnect.

This Christmas marks my 40th Christmas in Port Jefferson. So much has happened from my first days as a young parish priest at Infant Jesus. My life has been so blessed and enriched by the countless people I have been privileged to know and work with. The collaborative spirit and compassion in our village that transcends religious traditions and socioeconomic profiles has inspired me and helped me to stay the course all these years. The work that I’ve been able to do is in large measure thanks to the generosity and love from so many.

Thousands of broken young men are whole raising their own families, making positive contributions to our larger community and giving back in countless ways. All of that has happened and continues to happen because of your generosity, your courage and your power of example.

This Christmas I am grateful for the countless miracles I have witnessed every day for 40 years and for the collaborative spirit on the part of so many that have contributed to the transformation of so many wounded and broken people. Thank you for helping to renew my hope. I am forever grateful. Christmas blessings!

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

Chris and Christine Pendergast

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that autumn is upon us. There seemed to be no summer. The political rhetoric continues to be out of control providing little substance on social policy and a future direction for our nation. The virus seems to be getting a second wind and a record number of young people are overdosing and dying due to heroin and fentanyl. These deaths are escalating at an alarming rate.

Despite this troubling landscape, random acts of kindness continue. Essential workers continue to be heroic and ordinary citizens are reaching out and a making a difference that really does counts.

On the morning of Oct. 14, a local hero went home to his God after a courageous life living with ALS, having spent his life working for a cure and supporting others who have been burdened with this incurable disease.

Dr. Christopher Pendergast, a retired Northport School District science teacher from Miller Place had lived with ALS for more than 28 years — a real light in the darkness. He had been a tireless advocate for research regarding finding a cure. His public advocacy is legendary.

However, what people did not know was the thousands of people across three decades that Chris touched with his selfless compassion, love and empathy. If he knew you were diagnosed with ALS, he and his wife Christine would quietly reach out to offer support.

In 1997 Chris founded the Ride for Life which touched thousands of students and people all over Long Island. He was a prolific writer and a powerful and moving public speaker.

Two weeks before Chris died, we met to talk about his last days. He was concerned about entering hospice. He felt that after 28 years of teaching all of us how to live that maybe he didn’t do enough for others! He already planned his celebration of life after his death; from the wake to the funeral mass to his final resting place. He picked out the readings, the music and the people he wanted to participate in his services. He told me he did all of this so his wife and children would not be burdened when he passed.

On the Sunday before he died, Chris came with his wife Christine to the 12 noon Mass at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Sound Beach. That was his Mass — he went every Sunday until very recently. He and his wife were catechists who prepared young people from the parish for confirmation.

That Sunday I shared with his community that he had just begun hospice. On behalf of the community, I thanked Chris for his courage and his power of example all these years. I asked the community to extend their hands in blessing upon our brother.

At the amen, they gave him a standing ovation as a way of saying thank you. On Wednesday, October 14, he peacefully went home to God. The world is a brighter and better place because Chris Pendergast walked among us!

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

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that schools in our community  pare opening in a few weeks. Our school administrators, school boards, school support staff and teachers are working overtime to create safe, responsible learning opportunities for all of our students.

Every school community has a unique profile based on economics, size and cultural diversity. As community members, we need to urge caution, respect and responsible and doable planning based on each of these unique profiles.

For more than 40 years I’ve been privileged to be actively engaged in both public and private education as a school administrator, junior high and senior high school teacher, and undergraduate and graduate school professor in the area of social science and clinical social work. Our schools are the heart and soul of our communities. This pandemic has impacted them in more ways than many of us fully realize.

If we listen to our students on every grade level, lack of socialization and human interaction has been devastating for so many. Many traditional social experiences from senior proms to graduations were canceled for the class of 2020. For the class of 2021, many fall sports have been canceled and/or postponed.

Our students continue to get a mixed message regarding some of the very basic healthcare provisions that are critical and that we all must practice if we want to protect ourselves and others and reduce the spread of this virus.

As we scurry to get ready for a new school year, there is another vital resource for students that might not receive the support it needs, especially with so many schools facing economic issues and cutbacks due to the pandemic. So many of our students at all levels are reporting increased stress, anxiety and depression. They admit they do not have the coping skills to manage.

Unfortunately, during these tough economic times, we too often cut services that support our students psychological and emotional needs. I feel compelled to give voice to this issue. As a veteran educator and licensed clinical social worker who runs a mental health clinic in our community, I can attest firsthand that mental health services are desperately needed both in our schools and in our community. Our outpatient clinic has a waiting list that is growing every day.

Our two community hospitals have been heroic at the way in which they have responded to this pandemic with compassion and competence. What very few people realize is that John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson is the only local hospital that provides comprehensive mental health services. St. Charles Hospital is the only hospital in our area that provides competent, comprehensive detox and residential rehabilitation services for drugs and alcohol.

The issue that no one wants to address, including the people who lead us, is that there is no money in mental health services and even less money for alcohol and drug rehabilitation services. I have heard too often the bureaucrats on the corporate side of healthcare say“there’s no money in these services. We lose money.” This kind of thinking coming from corporate healthcare systems is reprehensible and is a profound violation of their Hippocratic oath.

During these very difficult times, we need more than ever greater access to mental health beds and rehabilitation beds for substance abuse not less beds. Insurance companies should not sentence people to death; our young should not be denied treatment for being unable to make payment.

Let us stand up and support Mather and St. Charles and thank them for their courageous service and loudly advocate for their support. A growing number of young people are at risk if we remain silent. He or she could be your son or daughter!

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

METRO photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the midpoint of the summer. The pandemic has changed our lives forever. We will never be able to go back to yesterday. However, we have a powerful opportunity to build a better and safer tomorrow.

At this point in our history, it is not a time for impulsiveness and polarization; rather it should be a time for profound reflection and for building new bridges. It is not a time for building walls, but rather a time to look for more creative ways to transcend our differences and to build a stronger foundation on our American values and ideals.

By our silence, we are complicit. More than ever before, we need people to stand up and give voice to reason and to social justice for all. Individually, we need to lead by example. Our failure to do this will cost the loss of innocent lives. Simple things matter like wearing a mask in public, social distancing and washing our hands frequently.

We have painfully learned how fragile all life is and how some simple practices can make the difference.

Unfortunately, our leadership on both sides of the aisle have failed us. The pandemic should not be a political football, but rather an opportunity to come together for the sake of the common good.

It should not matter what political party is leading us when it comes to protecting all Americans. They should be courageous enough to lead us and call for unity; they should be advocating and working for healing; instead of leading the charge for divisiveness and chaos.

Every state in the union is facing the difficult decision of when and how to open our schools. The health of our children, of our teachers and of our administrators is at stake; so is the quality of American education at every level.

We need to act cautiously and deliberately and not be seduced by rhetoric that is not grounded in science and good health practices. The next generation of leadership is at stake.

Regarding our schools, let us trust our leadership, let us encourage creativity and let us think outside the box without compromising quality education. Let us be mindful if we begin with a hybrid system of learning that many of our children will not have access to tablets and the internet and not every parent can supervise at home. It takes a village to raise and educate a child.

It is time to reclaim “we the people” and build a better tomorrow for all Americans no matter their color, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or social status.

Hope does not abandon us. We abandon hope. More than ever before hope needs to become the anthem of our souls!

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

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that so much as happened since Christmas. The president of the United States has been impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives and acquitted by the U.S. Senate. 

Reaction to all of this has further fueled the divisiveness that has become infectious in our country. The rhetoric on both sides of the aisle is reprehensible. Those who lead us from the White House to our local town legislators should lead by example, no matter what their political affiliation. Speaking disrespectfully and acting vindictively under no circumstances is ever acceptable behavior from those we’ve elected to lead us or from anyone in the position of authority and/or leadership.

Despite that very troubling landscape, I was privileged in early January to shepherd a group of 122 people to Israel and lead them through the holy places where Jesus lived, died and rose. Our group was a cross section of all Christian denominations, predominantly Roman Catholic, a Muslim and a number of people from the Jewish faith. All of the participants represented a wide range of professions and religious practices.

We left JFK as a large group of strangers and returned home after 10 days of being together as a community of friends. The transformation that took place was beyond words. Every day we ate together, prayed together, laughed together and sang together. At the end of each day, most of us gathered to share what had touched us from the day’s journey. The sharings were remarkable.

The experience was further enriched by having the music group the HIMS (Hope Inspired Men Sing) and Her with us. All of our prayer gatherings and Masses were blessed with their music and voices. They also added music to our bus rides. 

These eight young men, who live at Hope Academy on the grounds of Little Portion Friary in Mount Sinai, are in various stages of recovery from the affliction of addiction. They came together in treatment and created this music group that shares the message of hope and change wherever they go. They are a powerful reminder that people do recover, get better and make a powerful difference in our community.

There were so many moving moments during those 10 days — being on the Sea of Galilee in a boat much like the one Jesus road in; celebrating Mass on the spot in Bethlehem where Jesus was born; floating in the Dead Sea; renewing our baptismal promises at the Jordan River; praying and celebrating Mass at Gethsemane in the Church of All Nations; walking the streets of Caesarea Philippi; and singing and praying in the Chapel of the Encounters in Magdala where Mary Magdalene was born. 

On the final day, we got up at 4:30 a.m., went into the Old City of Jerusalem and walked the way of the cross – Via Dolorosa, singing, “Jesus, Remember Me” in between each station until we arrived at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre for our Mass in the tomb where Jesus was buried.

There were many powerful moments during our time together. So many of the pilgrims highlighted the different experiences that touched them. Probably one of the most poignant and powerful moments was the concert given by the HIMS and Her outside the Old City of Jerusalem. A few hundred people gathered to hear this dynamic band singing about hope, change and transformation. Their final song, which is a song filled with hope, was entitled “Go Light Your World.” As they sang their hearts and souls out about being a light in the darkness, people took out their phones and lit up the darkened chapel where the concert was held. 

When we returned to JFK at the end of our pilgrimage, there was much hugging and tears. We had just spent 10 days in the most dangerous part of the world, never fearing for our safety, never sensing hostility or disrespect. These 122 strangers went beyond all of their differences and we were once again reminded that when love and respect are present, miracles happen; strangers become friends and hope lives!

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

Stock photo

By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

Father Frank Pizzarelli

It’s hard to believe that another holiday season is upon us. Thanksgiving has passed. Our towns and villages are decorated with bright lights and wreaths. The season of hope is upon us again! 

If we ever needed to have our hope renewed, it is this season. Our nation is divided and profoundly wounded. Families are fractured because of our polarizing politics. Hatred and discrimination seem to be on the rise or at least more overtly expressed. People are obsessed with headsets, ear buds and iPhones. Human communication is impaired and healthy human connections are at an all-time low.

However, despite this dark landscape, hope and compassion still live. Every day I am privileged to witness random acts of kindness that are transforming our world one act at a time.

A local high school student recently had a collection for Pax Christi and filled two big cars with things for the poorest of the poor.

Christmas Magic, founded by a local attorney more than 25 years ago, continues to bring hundreds of volunteer high school and college students and adults together to make Christmas happen for thousands of Long Island children who otherwise would not have a Christmas.

It continues to amaze me how many local faith communities sponsor holiday season drives for various not-for-profit charities. It is beyond words how much love lives among us.

Every Tuesday I take the Long Island Railroad to New York City. I then take the train at Penn Station to Columbus Circle and walk to Fordham University’s graduate school of social service at Lincoln Center. I teach graduate school social work there.

For more than a dozen years that has been my Tuesday routine. I have always been struck by the number of people who are struggling and living on the streets of New York. They are not a particular color, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or age. Homelessness knows no specific profile. It potentially can touch anyone of us without warning.

There is a particular man who sits right at the corner of 60th St. and Eighth Avenue; he’s been there for months. He has a knapsack and some very tattered clothes that he wears, nothing more. He sits on a crate and has a sign in front of him that says he’s homeless asking people to help him. It says that he has no family.

About a month ago I stopped to give him something. I said, “I wish it could be more.” His response was, “Thank you for treating me as a person and acknowledging me. It means more than you will ever know.”

It wasn’t the money but the human connection and acknowledgment that made the difference to that street person. I shared that story with the congregation that gathers every Sunday at the friary in Mount Sinai.

A few days later a young man in early recovery gave me a little lime green bag. It was filled with treats, a hat, scarf and gloves. It was for my homeless friend. He, his significant other and their 3-year-old son made the bag and asked if I would give it to the homeless man from them and wish him a happy Thanksgiving. I did that on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. He smiled from ear to ear and mouthed the words thank you as I hurried to class. I will always remember his eyes and his facial expression!

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