Where He Belongs


While stuck in self-quarantine, I attended a virtual celebration of the Mass today led by my pastor, Father Robert Dillon, I realized how much I truly love my parish. I am proud to belong to St. Joseph-St. Thomas the Apostle-St. John Neumann parish on Staten Island. The cornerstone of St. Joseph’s Church was laid in 1849. 

Our parish is led by our pastor and his team of Father Evangelio Suaybaguio, Father Neil Kelly and Father John Edison; Deacon Gary Villaneuva, M.D.; Maryellen Cilento, principal; Elizabeth Brim, director of religious education, and Gregory Hauck and Nancy Gallo, coordinators of religious education; and Dr. Charles Talley, director of music. Assisting are dedicated Eucharistic ministers, ushers, choir members, organists, cantors, altar servers, sextons and catechists.

Our parish’s main church is St. Thomas the Apostle Church, where my wife and I were married Nov. 15, 1998. The restored 150-year-old church is beautiful, with a granite tile floor, mahogany entrance doors, five stained glass windows and a carillon.

Our parish enjoys its diversity. We have a sizable Italian community, and we celebrate Mass in Italian at St. Thomas the Apostle on Sundays at 10 a.m. Our Filipino brothers and sisters celebrate the Mass of the Virgin of the Barangay each first Saturday at 7:15 p.m., with recitation of the Rosary at 6 p.m. We have Polish, German, Hispanic, Irish, Lithuanian, African-American, Slovakian, West Indian parishioners, as well as brothers and sisters of other ethnic groups.  Our daughters were baptized at St. Thomas the Apostle and received the Holy Eucharist and Confirmation as well. They graduated from the parish school and now attend St. Joseph by-the-Sea High School.

It is where my beloved mother-in-law’s Funeral Mass was offered in February 2019. My family will never forget the comforting words of Father Kelly, who celebrated the Mass and greatly aided my family during that difficult time.

Sitting at home, we take comfort in attending Mass virtually and give thanks and praise for God’s blessings, and thanks to my wonderful parish. I truly miss being among my friends and fellow parishioners and our parish priests, and look forward to when we can all sit together at Mass and receive the Lord in the Holy Eucharist. 

Denis P. McGowan
Staten Island