The worst thing we could have said to my mother when we were growing up was, “I’m bored.” She had a ready list of things to do to relieve boredom, from weeding the driveway, to scraping loose paint, to practicing the piano. In her anti-boredom campaign she also fostered our creativity: Make some puppets and produce a puppet show. Get out the family slide projector and set the pictures to music. And write a newspaper.
Our family actually published a bi-monthly newsletter that we sold to neighbors and relatives and it covered the arts, sports, an advice column and family news. We pounded out the articles on purple spirit masters using an old manual cast-iron typewriter and our dad took these to work and printed our journalistic masterpieces which also featured hand-drawn illustrations.
So began my “career” in journalism. From those early days I went on to write and edit for the grammar school newspaper. I worked my way up from reporter to editor of the high school newspaper and ended up as Editor-in-Chief of The Delphian, Adelphi University’s Student newspaper, while at the same time working for a local newspaper group and occasionally as a stringer for the New York Times. These were the heady days before computers, where we typed using IBM Selectrics and glued down our layouts with wax or rubber cement. There were often all-nighters to get the university’s 32-page weekly delivered to the printer on time — and that was done by car.
The year I was ordained a Catholic priest, the first Macintosh computer came out and our church bulletin was now being produced electronically. For decades I’ve written weekly columns in the church bulletin and eventually was able to master web design as another venue for writing.
It was shortly after arriving as the pastor of St. Bernard’s Church in Levittown that I met up with a then recent Adelphi Graduate and former Delphian editor named Jen Fauci who was editing papers at the Anton Media Group. She wondered if I might like to write an occasional column for the Levittown Tribune. As I was quickly falling in love with Levittown, I jumped at the chance and soon I was writing about my experiences at high school baseball games, school plays, local parades and the suburban life that was distinctly Levittown. I also encountered the painful realities of our community — I’ve buried 21 people from drug overdoses, 16 of whom were parents. I’ve experienced the horrors of deaths and other accidents on Hempstead Turnpike. I’ve come to realize that many people are trying to deal with life pains, frustrations, loneliness and angers by medicating themselves, not only with drugs but with alcohol or other behaviors.
So for the past few years I’ve had the privilege of commenting on life in Levittown, with the hope of offering some pastoral guidance to my neighbors. I get my ideas from what I experience, but also from online groups who sometimes struggle with parenting or social concerns or sometimes let their guard down and go crazy over something, while forgetting that their pastor is following the drama. Occasionally I write about things that are particularly Catholic since I know that there are questions people have about what we’re about. But more often I’m happy to focus on life as we experience it in our neighborhoods.
I do welcome suggestions for topics for this column. I try to figure out what would be most interesting, challenging, comforting, instructive, and caring. But I’m open to what our readers would be interested in. And if I can’t figure that out in a given week, you’ll probably be reading a column about the weather. I’m grateful for this opportunity to come into your home. At least I’m not bored.