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Religion

The Our Lady of Wisdom Regional School is closing at the end of this school year, according to the Diocese of Rockville Center. Photo by Kyle Barr

Our Lady of Wisdom Regional School in Port Jefferson will have closed by the end of the school year and will not reopen for fall2020. The coronavirus pandemic has hurt the institution, and Catholic officials said COVID-19 has exacerbated issues of progressively lagging enrollment.

The Our Lady of Wisdom Regional School is closing at the end of this school year, according to the Diocese of Rockville Center. Photo by Kyle Barr

According to a release by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the school, located on the grounds of the Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jeff, along with two other Catholic schools on Long Island, have suffered from increased competition from public and other secular schools. This has led to more and more financial support needed from local parishes.

“Following much analysis and discussion with stakeholders at both the diocesan and parish levels, the pastors of the parishes that support each school have made the difficult decision to close,” the diocese states in the release.

Parents will need to work with the diocese’s Department of Education and other school officials to enroll their kids in different Catholic schools on Long Island.

“COVID-19 has had a significant financial impact on all of the parishes and schools within the diocese, resulting in the difficult decision to close these three Catholic elementary schools in order to eliminate the unsustainable financial stress on their parishes,” said Sean Dolan, a diocese spokesperson.

The diocese said in the release the school has declined in enrollment by 37 percent to just 66 students in kindergarten through eighthgrade. It is 31 percent, or 79 students, if you consider students from nursery through eighth-grade.

The school was financially supported by four local parishes, including Infant Jesus, St. Gerard Majella in Port Jefferson Station, St. James R.C. Church in Setauket and the St. Louis de Montfort in Sound Beach. The diocese said the four supporting parishes provide around $475,000 in operating support to the school, which accounts for more than 45 percent of the school’s total revenues. 

Our Lady of Wisdom Principal John Piropato and other school leaders did not return requests for comment.

The school was established by the Daughters of Wisdom, an order that has deep ties to Long Island, in 1938, then called the Infant Jesus Parish School. It was renamed to Our Lady of Wisdom in 1991. The sisterhood was largely uninvolved with it once it became a regional school, according to Sr. Cathy Sheehan of the Daughters of Wisdom.

Remembering Infant Jesus School

For the many students who went there over the past 80 years, many remember it as a strict place of learning, whether that fostered a sense of discipline or a harsh atmosphere. Once it transformed into a regional school, many said the place fostered a unique sense of community one couldn’t get from the other expanding school districts on Long Island.

Displants from the Port Jefferson/PJS area, folks who live as far away as New Mexico, chimed in remembering their old school.

Eileen Powers-Benedict said going to the Infant Jesus School engendered a strong sense of order that helped them get ahead in their school careers. The oldest of nine children, five brothers and three sisters, she would enter the school in 1961 while the last of the Powers children would graduate in 1985. Her father, William Powers, a deacon, was a frequent clergy visitor. Her mother, Tatty Powers, was a volunteer who did readings to those in prekindergarten through first grade. Powers-Benedict’s three children also went through the school.

She said while she understands why the school had to close, she is disappointed other parents will never have the choice to send their children there.

“The education for my siblings and me was all business, some of us came out a year ahead in foreign language and mathematics, although individualized instruction was not in style,” she said. “There was a tremendous air of compassion that supported students and their families in times of trouble and strife.” 

Michael Langan, who now lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, was one of six children of World War II veterans Robert and Elizabeth Langan. He would graduate from the Infant Jesus School in 1968. 

He remembers even before the convent went up next to Infant Jesus church in the late ‘60s, when the nuns lived at a convent at St. Charles Hospital. The nuns would walk to the school or have a station wagon take them in bad weather.

Many of the nuns who taught at the school when he was there, Langan said, originated from Ontario, Canada. Many had marked French accents. Back then, he said behavioral discipline was very much the norm, including some amount of corporal punishment. 

“But in fact that was true of public and parochial schools back in the ’50s and ’60s,” he said,

Back then, he remembers, class sizes were much larger than today, with around 50 students.

One particular nun, Sr. Mary, he said, had “a beautiful soul — emblematic of the dedication of the Daughters of Wisdom who served the people of the Port Jefferson area for so many years.” She passed away this year on April 8.  

Not everyone accepted the nun’s punishment lightly. Deborah Keating, who now lives in Florida, said she graduated eighth-grade from the school in ’69, describing it as “a nightmare,” saying that some nuns could be abusive.

“Sr. Ann Michael, if you saw her coming, you knew you had better pray for your life,” Keating said. 

Though at the same time, her brother, who she said had Down syndrome, attended the Maryhaven facility in Port Jeff, which is also run by the Catholic church. There, she said the staff was very kind to him, and he went on to work as a janitor in the Maryhaven facility, He has since retired after working there 25 years, and lives with Keating at her home in Florida.

Things did change, especially as the years went by and the school changed names and leadership. MaryKate Henry, who lives in Babylon village, grew up in a middle-class household in Coram that she said worked hard to provide the Our Lady of Wisdom tuition for her and her siblings. She went there as it transformed into a regional school, and graduated eighth-grade in 2000 with a class of just 19. Her largest class size was in fourth=grade with 36 kids taught by one teacher. To this day, she still has friends that went there in her elementary years.

“That’s what I loved about OLOW — as we called it — everybody knew everybody, who your parents were and what they did and everyone was there for each other,” she said.

Faith was very much a part of the Catholic school, and she said that sense of religiousness has carried over into today. Her kids now attend the Babylon school district, and with a relatively small class size, she said it’s one of the things she hopes to have for her kids, a place that fosters community.

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Rev. Patrick Riegger, pastor at Infant Jesus, says hello to churchgoers Sunday, May 24. Photo by Kyle Barr

Though those of many different faiths and houses of worship readily await the time when congregations can meet again after the pandemic finally slows down, one Port Jefferson church has found a way to give its hundreds of parishioners the sort of connectivity they’ve lacked since the start of the crisis.

Rev. Rolando Ticllasuca gives drivers the blessed sacrement. Photo by Kyle Barr

Volunteers and staff from the Infant Jesus R.C. Church in Port Jefferson directed traffic along Main Street in front of the driveway to the parish. It’s a Sunday morning, May 24, and hundreds of vehicles pull up the ramp into the church’s parking lot. Some Sundays, the line stretches all the way up the road to the PJ Lobster House at the corner of Main Street and North Country Road. It’s a mix of old and young, big SUVs and compacts, but nearly all smile as they say “hello” to their pastors and receive a drive-through version of the Blessed Sacrament from the Rev. Rolando Ticllasuca. 

The scene has largely remained the same every Sunday for the six weeks since Easter. It offers that small bit of community connection for the parishioners living in the area, so many of whom have been cooped up at home, working through the anxieties of the ongoing pandemic.

The Rev. Patrick Riegger, pastor at Infant Jesus, knows nearly every person in each vehicle on sight, even through their face coverings and masks. He said church members, of whom the total families number close to 5,000, find that the event helps them reconnect with their community.

“It shows support for them during these unprecedented times,” Riegger said. “For the last six weeks, this is where the community has been, here at Infant Jesus.”

New Infant Jesus seminarian Jonathan Pham helps direct traffic into Infant Jesus R.C. Church’s drive-through Sunday service. Photo by Kyle Barr

He said the weekly event started when church members Peter and Karen Helfrich suggested they host some kind of event for Easter to allow members to participate in some way on the holiday. Performing the event the following Sunday, parish staff were surprised by just how many continued to come out. Week after week, 300, 400 or even 500 vehicles show up from all over the local area in the three-hour period the service is hosted. It may not be the same people every single week, but many have returned once or twice over the span of the service. With the fact that cars often contain families, members estimated they likely receive over 1,000 people a week.

Michael Dyroff, a commissioner with the Terryville Fire Department and lifelong church member, came to the drive-through service with his wife Debbie and said they are “blessed” to have the religious staff willing to perform the service.

“It’s a way of connecting with folks,” Dyroff said. “It’s a wonderful idea.”

The church relies on staff and volunteers, including from the local Knights of Columbus, to help direct traffic up from Main Street and around through the parking lot. Members in their cars keep a distance from the clergy and receive the Blessed Sacrament from afar. 

Corrine Addiss, the head of religious education for the church, stood outside helping to direct traffic. She said the number of cars coming through really starts to pick up after 9:30 a.m. She thanked the volunteers who “could be in bed, sleeping,” but are instead helping their parish. 

Cars line up the driveway for the Infant Jesus Chruch’s drive through church services. Photo by Kyle Barr

Of course, it will not make up for a real service hosted inside a church, but it may be several more weeks or even months before that can begin. Perhaps most important for Riegger is the act of communion, which hasn’t been hosted since the church was closed to anything but private prayer back in March. 

Even when churches open, it may be very different than what churchgoers are used to. The Archdiocese of New York released a five-phase reopening plan May 21 that included first opening for private prayer and confessions, before moving on to attendee-limited baptisms and marriages, distributing Holy Communion outside of Mass, then hosting limited daily or funeral services before finally allowing Sunday services at a maximum of 25 percent the usual occupancy. 

Riegger said they would be following New York State’s and the Archdiocese of New York’s guidelines. 

Still, Infant Jesus plans to keep the drive-through church service alive as long as the pandemic and shutdown order mandates people keep apart. That might include pews marked with tape to keep people from sitting too close, or communion being done wearing gloves and a mask.

“When you have a crisis like this, where everything’s closed down, how do you give them that sense of community, that sense of assurance that God is with them?” said Dominik Wegiel, a seminarian at Infant Jesus. “This is our sort of our way of connecting them to the parish, connecting them to the community, but more importantly connecting them in that God is with us even in these times.”

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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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We need a unifying moment. Most of us are good people, most of us care about our families, our neighbors, our communities and the safety and soundness of our lives in America.

We need a moment when everyone can come together, regardless of their faith, background or individual beliefs, and decide that we believe in our city, state and country.

We need a moment when we are all Jewish. We need to show the people out there who are threatened by any one religion or belief that we all stand together, that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us, and that we will not tolerate any level of violence against a group because we support and believe in each other.

Wearing blue, as my children and their friends did the first day after the horrific attack in Pittsburgh, is a start.

There’s a wonderful climactic scene in the Kevin Kline movie “In & Out,” (1997). A former student of Kline’s has outed him as gay just before his wedding. The town wants to remove him as a teacher, despite his dedication to his students. During a graduation ceremony, people who have known and appreciated Kline’s commitment stand up, one by one, and declare that they, too, are gay, rallying behind a teacher who meant so much to them.

Violence, discrimination and hatred toward any one group will be spectacularly difficult if the group suddenly includes everyone. I’m not suggesting that anyone changes religions. I am, however, suggesting that people stand together with Jews, Muslims, lesbian and gay populations and make it clear to anyone who would target these groups with bullying, hatred or worse that we as a unified group will not allow it.

Pursuing the death penalty against the perpetrator of this violence may be a deterrent to other people who might consider similar acts, although I suspect that the diseased minds who crave relief through murder may not care that much about their fate.

We need to send a signal beyond the death penalty for those contemplating violence. We need to tell them that the group they hate is larger than they think and the actions they are considering are unacceptable to all of us.

Just over 20 years ago this month, Matthew Shepard was killed for being gay. Ideally, today people can express their sexual preference without fear of anger or violence. Unfortunately, we don’t yet live in an ideal world, so we must stand together with this generation’s Matthew Shepards.

This isn’t a political moment. This is a time when caring community members can and will stand, side by side, to make it clear that, despite our differences, despite our frustrations with each other, despite our irritation at someone who takes our parking spot, we are a community that cares.

Most people feel helpless in the face of abominable acts as in Pittsburgh. In addition to finding a time and place to stand together, we should tell people we are gay or Jewish or Muslim. We should wear those labels with pride, the way we put on a new dress, shoes or tie the first day after we buy it.

Perhaps, all week, when we pick up the phone, we should say, “Joe’s Deli, this is John and I’m Jewish. How may I help you?” Or, “It’s a great day at the store. This is Alice and I’m gay. How can I help you”

It’s impossible to hate “the others” when everyone belongs to that group. We need a unifying moment and it starts with each of us.

Photo from Island Christian Church Demolition begins as workers clear out the old materials in the sanctuary of Island Christian Church. Photo from Island Christian Church

Construction is currently underway at Island Christian Church of East Northport for the total renovation of its sanctuary. The original building, now the youth center of the church, was built in 1965. In the mid-1980s, a major addition was undertaken, adding classrooms, offices and a 10,000-square-foot multipurpose auditorium, which is where Sunday services have been held since it opened in 1987. Since that time, another addition occurred in 2008, which increased lobby space, classrooms and offices. 

Over the last few years, it became apparent that the sanctuary space was in need of a face-lift, after 30-plus years of continual use. Called RENEW 2018, the project will entail new staging and lighting, wall covering, carpeting and HVAC. New audio, visual and lighting equipment will also be installed. 

“This is such an exciting time for Island Christian Church,” said senior pastor the Rev. Mike O’Connor, adding, “We have had so many milestones in this auditorium, including over 3,000 Sunday services, 759 baptisms, over 100 weddings almost 300 baby dedications. Now, we get to see it fully renovated for this and the next generation — for the next 30 years, the Lord willing.” 

“All the funds needed for this renovation were generously provided for by our congregation, so there is no debt,” he said.

Completion is expected sometime before Christmas 2018. In the meantime, Sunday services will be taking place in the church gymnasium, which served as the sanctuary in the original building. 

“We’ve come full circle it seems, but we are blessed to be able to have the space to accommodate our congregation during construction. In fact, the community is always welcome to check it out. Sunday service times will remain at 9 and 10:45 a.m.,” said O’Connor.

Island Christian Church is located 400 Elwood Road in East Northport. For further information, call 631-822-3000 or visit www.islandchristian.com.

The steeple of St. Paul’s Methodist Church in Northport has been leaking for more than a decade. Photos by Sara-Megan Walsh

A Northport congregation is praying for community help in order to save a pinnacle of the town’s history and landscape.

St. Paul’s Methodist Church has launched a capital campaign seeking to raise $300,000 to make structural repairs to the building’s historic steeple and preserve the sanctuary’s stained glass windows. The parish has found innovative ways to deal with the leaking steeple for nearly a decade, but the need for restoration has heightened as more extensive damage has occurred over time.

Pastor Kristina Hansen, religious leader of St. Paul’s, said the issue of rainwater leaking into the church’s sanctuary predates her arrival in 2010. Parishioner Alex Edwards-Bourdrez, who has been at the church for 26 years,  said determining the leak’s source took a lot of guesswork. Churchgoers used pots and pans to catch the water for years, and Hansen said the church even replaced the building’s roof “at hefty cost,” which did little to solve the problem.

“That’s when we realized the real problem was the steeple,” she said. “The steeple was the culprit all along. It’s gotten to a point we can’t ignore or make do anymore.”

The church’s original steeple, built in 1873, is iconic, made of white-painted wooden boards with a copper dome on top. It’s steeped in more than rainwater, as throughout the decade parishioners have signed their names on the walls of the bell tower as they’ve made confirmation or held a position of service in the congregation.

A stained glass window in the church’s sanctuary. Photo by Sara-Megan Walsh

Edwards-Bourdrez said the steeple’s leak has gradually limited church activities, restricting use of the balcony for seating and preventing performance of the bell choir during inclement weather.

St. Paul’s has had a number of different construction firms come to review the damage and give estimates on the cost of repairs to preserve the historic structure, Hansen said. Initial prices range from $125,000 to $150,000, according to the pastor, but that could increase once scaffolding is built and a closer inspection is made of the two- to three-story high structure. The church has had temporary repairs done to prevent any further damage at the moment.

“Right now, for the first time in a decade, it isn’t leaking, but it’s not going to hold,” she said.

In addition to repairs to the steeple, the pastor said that the church is seeking donors to help preserve the sanctuary’s turn-of-the-century stained glass windows. The leading between sections of glass has started to deteriorate, which leaves the weight of the stained glass unsupported and prone to collapse. The estimated cost of repairing a single window can run more than $20,000, according to Hansen.

“I don’t know how much of the original work is still being done anymore,” she said. “It’s a part of the character of the sanctuary.”

The parish is hoping with the community’s support to upgrade its bathrooms, which are frequently used by residents for athletic events, artistic performances and local organizations like the Boy Scouts. This past Cow Harbor Day, churchgoers invited runners and spectators in need of a restroom inside to use the outdated facilities. The church wants to update its bathrooms and stairways to be fully handicapped accessible.

“With how many people we have in our building, we want our hospitality to be better,” Hansen said. “Any way we can make it more accessible, we want to do.”

The church’s capital campaign has already found support in the Northport community with John W. Engeman Theatre at Northport offering to donate $25,000 over the next three years. Hansen said a golf fundraiser is being held Oct. 16, with more events being planned in the upcoming weeks.

Jo Ann Katz, owner of Northport Plays, said the church has “been her home” for Northport Reader’s Theater and the Northport One-Act Play Festival over the years. It has provided a location for Long Island theater groups and actors to come together, with the yearly festival taking place on the parish’s stage in the gymnasium.

Katz will coproduce a special performance of “Ever Random,” a new play written by Long Island playwright Patrick Sherrard, to benefit St. Paul’s Nov. 5 at 3 p.m. The play is described as a touching comedy that explores a family’s struggles in the wake of a great loss. The show recently finished its September run at Manhattan Repertory Theatre.

Tickets cost $15 and reservations can be made by visiting www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3099845.

Hansen said St. Paul’s members are grateful for the community coming together to support the steeple’s repair.

“You can see the steeple from the harbor as you are coming up the street. It’s one of those iconic marks,” she said. “The fact is it’s compromising this beautiful sanctuary.”

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Egypt has long been considered a land of mystery and magic. Above, the Magical Circle of Anubis is discussed in ‘The Golden Bough.’

By Elof Axel Carlson

In 1890 Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) wrote “The Golden Bough.” Frazer was Scottish, educated in Glasgow and then in Cambridge studying classical literature (Greek and Roman). He studied mythology, comparative religion and anthropology. His book argues that magic gave rise to religion and religion to science.

Magic assumes there are supernatural powers that some people can invoke or possess as innate gifts. With magic, what seems impossible can be made possible, at least to the observers of magical acts. Most professional magicians deny that they possess such gifts, and Houdini spent considerable time duplicating the tricks and illusions other magicians (and charlatans) used to deceive the public.

Frazer surmises the earliest humans believed in magical acts and associated them into rituals and myths with a belief in gods, often family ancestors, mythic heroes who were founders of a tribe, clan or larger population and sky gods. He believed the idea of resurrection came from the seasonal observation that plants die, scatter seeds and in the spring a resurrection occurs. He calls this “the dying corn god.”

Religion largely replaced magic as the basis for interpreting how the world arose, how society should function and how we relate to our gods. Religion in turn led to science with mathematics replacing numerology, astronomy coming out from astrology and chemistry from alchemy. The pursuit of knowledge from pseudoscience led to a weeding out of the failed experiments and predictions and a respect for more empirical and reason-based studies of the material, living and psychological universe in which we live.

Contemporary historians and philosophers differ with Frazer and among themselves on the origins of science. Some use a Marxist interpretation that farmers and workers laid the groundwork for science by their practical approaches to cultivate nature. Some argue that science is actually a cultural consensus or construction that shifts to new consensus and constructions in response to political and cultural changes.

Most scientists reject these social views of science and favor a material universe that can be explored, interpreted and manipulated with tools, experimentation, reason and data replacing myth, ideology or the supernatural. At issue in these debates are the ways scientists see the universe and their efforts to understand it. Science sometimes overthrows prevailing beliefs seen as truths. More often, it modifies its findings and its implications, incorporating the old as a portion of the new.

Newton’s laws of motion and gravity were not negated by Einstein’s theories of relativity or space-time. They became a more limited application useful for studying Earth and its solar system. Science is limited in what it can predict. We do not know if there are few, many or an unending number of scientific laws that may emerge in the centuries and millennia to come.

Elof Axel Carlson is a distinguished teaching professor emeritus in the Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology at Stony Brook University.

The cover of Michael Medico’s new novel, The Sainted. Photo from Medico
The cover of Michael Medico’s new novel, The Sainted. Photo from Medico
The cover of Michael Medico’s new novel, The Sainted. Photo from Medico

By Melissa Arnold

Michael Medico of Northport has written for decades in marketing, but now that he’s retired, he’s decided to explore writing fiction. His first novel, “The Sainted,” was released this past fall, and the 69-year-old couldn’t be happier.

The book finds Chris, a devout Catholic from Long Island, experiencing visions and dreams from the saints — ordinary men and women who lived extraordinary lives for God. The dreams begin as helpful advice and guidance, but their messages soon turn dire as the saints warn of impending doom. Chris is thrust into a classic battle of faith and doubt, good and evil, that can speak to readers of all backgrounds.

Medico took some time recently to share what it’s like being a newly published author.

Tell me a little bit about your background.
I was born in Manhattan, raised in the Bronx and then moved out to Long Island when I was about 13 years old. I was in the Navy, and after I got out I was in the advertising industry for 45 years before I retired. I’ve written pretty much my entire life, but it was mostly commercials and articles — not something really ambitious like fiction.
I love reading fiction in my spare time, especially books that deal with suspense, thrillers and the supernatural. I read Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Tom Clancy and many more in that vein. That genre has always interested me, and I thought if I wanted to write fiction, I would try that.

What was it like for you to get published?
I have an agent, Alan Morrell, and we’ve been friends for 25 years. He was able to help me find a publishing company called Brick Tower Press. The process took about a year. It’s beyond a rush, both fun and frustrating, but certainly a very rewarding experience.

What gave you the idea to write a faith-based book? Are you a person of faith?
I’m a lapsed Catholic but am very much a man of faith. I’d gone to both parochial grammar school and high school. So I have a background in Roman Catholicism and have always been inspired by the saints — these real people who lived their lives in an amazing way, regardless of whether they were single or married. Some were even martyred. There are over 10,000 people that the Church honors as saints, and I wanted to help give people an understanding of who they are while writing something entertaining at the same time.
St. Agnes is someone who amazes me. She came into the world surrounded by lights, and her devotion to God throughout her life, even as a little girl, is so inspiring. So many [saints]have faced terrible evils but   are still totally consumed by their love for God.

Early in the book, you described the main character, Chris, in great detail. Is he based off of you in any way?
We do have similarities — we’re both Italian, both grew up Catholic, both raised in the Bronx and moved to Long Island, but he’s a far better man than I am. He continues to go to Mass as an adult. We’re all sinners, and Chris has his flaws, but he’s a truly good man. He represents every man, all of us. He embodies the good and bad of human life. And I think that’s important for the way Satan sees him in the book. Chris is like a trophy for [the devil] — if he can get Chris, he can get anyone.

Michael Medico. Photo from Medico
Michael Medico. Photo from Medico

You’ve paid a lot of homage to New York and Long Island in this book. Why did you choose to have the story take place here?
I guess I really could have set it anywhere, but I grew up in the Bronx and moved to Long Island. My wife and I settled in Huntington — it’s beautiful and has a great culture. They have the arts, restaurants, live music and, most of all, good people. It’s home. I thought that would be the best place for Chris to be.

This story has a classic good versus evil theme. How do you think people today relate to that?
Chris is thrust into the middle of this terrible evil, and I think a lot of us can relate to that in seeing the senseless tragedies that happen here on earth. We all have to find a way to respond to those things.

The book is part of a trilogy. What are your plans for the next two books?
The second book is already finished. We’re just editing it now. And I’ve written the first chapter of the third book.
Those stories will explore how the events in the first book affect people around Chris and, later, the rest of the world. The series will culminate in a great confrontation of good and evil, but I haven’t decided exactly how that will go yet.

Do you hope to write other books after this series is completed?
I’m thoroughly enjoying my writing, and I hope to do it as long as I’m able. It keeps my mind sharp. I’m contemplating writing at least one book for children in the future.

Where can people find the book or learn more about you?
I’ve set up a website at www.thesaintednovel.com. There’s a short bio on me, a sample of the book and ways to purchase it, plus a form to contact me. You can also buy the book online just about everywhere books are sold, including for Kindle and Apple devices.

Michael Medico will hold a book signing at Book Revue, 313 New York Ave., Huntington, on March 9 at 7 p.m. For more information, call 631-271-1442 or visit www.bookrevue.com.

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By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli

August reminds us that the summer is quickly coming to a close. Football teams begin to practice. College students begin to leave for the new semester.

Among our college students leaving for school will be this year’s freshman class. It should be an exciting time in the life of any young person preparing to go away to school. It is the next step in his/her journey.

Unfortunately, too many of our college freshmen are not prepared for the challenges that living away at school presents. For many, it is the first time they are away from home for an extended period of time without any parental supervision or any accountability. No one’s going to tell them when and what to eat, when to shower, go to bed, get up on time and get to class.

The first month is a major adjustment for the new student. There are parties and social events almost every night. College freshmen must learn effective time management to be successful. It’s very easy to get lost in the excitement of this newfound freedom and not invest oneself into one’s most important priority: school.

The freshman who becomes consumed with partying and socializing and puts his or her academic obligations on hold will probably not fare well at the end of the semester. College academic life is very different from high school. In high school, your teachers stay on top of you. They contact your parents when you cut and don’t hand in work. In college, professors treat you as an adult. They expect you to come to class and hand your assignments in on time. They don’t call home if you cut or if you don’t hand work in. Usually you receive a failing grade and/or depending on the attendance policy of the class get dropped from the class.

Parents of first-time college students need to realize even though you might be paying your child’s tuition, the college is not going to communicate with you about your son or daughter’s academic progress. So it would be wise before your student leaves for college to talk about communication; when and how frequently you will connect. It would be advisable to talk about academic performance and your expectations, but most importantly create a climate that keeps the lines of communication open at all costs with your student.

Most colleges and universities have a wellness center. You should make sure your college coed knows where the center is and what services it offers. More colleges are providing spiritual support by recruiting clergy from the major religious denominations and inviting them on campus to provide religious services during the school year.

The college landscape of today has radically changed from 20 years ago. My experience as a college educator is that many of our college students are ill prepared for college life and the challenges that living away from home present.

As parents we cannot control how our children think or how they act. We can lead by example but need to convey our love and support for them especially when they struggle. Most importantly, we need to hold them accountable for all the choices that they make.

Fr. Pizzarelli is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.

The fish church is undergoing renovations. Photo by Erika Karp

More than 10 years in the making and the plans to renovate Rocky Point’s Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church, known fondly as the fish church, are finally getting off the ground.

To signify the start of the massive, $1.5 million renovation to the parish hall, the church celebrated with a ground-breaking ceremony on June 14. Construction should begin in a week or so.

The original parish hall, located at the back of the church and constructed in 1972, will be mostly knocked down and replaced, with 83 percent of the hall going under new construction. The updated hall will offer large, flexible spaces that can be subdivided for multiple meetings, and high ceilings for indoor play and congregational activities.

A new roof and energy efficient windows will also be installed.

In addition, a second entrance will be constructed, which will eliminate congestion at the original entrance to the church, along with an improved kitchen and food pantry facility for the Invited INN Soup Kitchen that operates out of the church. Throughout the last 10 years, the congregation raised approximately $730,000 — almost half of the money — needed to fund the restorations.

“When I think of this new space, it’s not just designing a bigger space, it’s significant events that will take place,” Pastor Jeffrey Kolbo said. “I see support groups, bible studies, all benefiting from this new space.”

While the space is already used for Sunday school, youth programs and a meeting place for various organizations, Kolbo thinks additional community groups will be able to utilize it.

The current building is 6,658 square feet, and the addition will add 2,211 square feet. The new main room will seat approximately 200 people and will be about 3,000 square feet.

Carol Moor, who runs the Invited INN soup kitchen, is very excited about the new upgrades to the kitchen and pantry. She said the church has generously provided the space throughout the years.

“A new, more efficient and upgraded kitchen will be great, since we cook everything in-house, from scratch,” Moor said. “And a bigger space also means that we can now host more than one meal per week and feed more people in need.”

The soup kitchen currently feeds about 70 to 80 people. However, after the renovations, the space will be able to hold around 200 people. The updates will also provide additional storage space to hold food for the soup kitchen.