OUR PASTOR Father Robert Smith
When it comes to all that OLMM parishioners feel thankful for – now we can add to that list our new pastor, who is eminently qualified to lead and guide us. Although…he’s no longer “brand new” here. In fact, Father Robert. J. Smith completed his second full year as OLMM’s pastor at the end of July.
Father Bob brings many years of rich experience and deep educational credentials to our parish and its people. With a serious mindset and humble authenticity, Father Bob has by nature the caring & compassion parishioners hope for and look for in their trusted ‘good shepherd’. We are so grateful to have him here!
As pastor of two Diocese of Rockville Centre parishes now, Father Bob is tackling a unique and serious challenge—but it’s what he’s been called to do at this point in his career.
In addition to his appointment as OLMM’s replacement for long-serving and beloved Father Bill Brisotti, Father Bob (as most of you know by now!) is continuing as pastor of St. Hugh’s of Lincoln in South Huntington, where he has served since 2015.
For many OLMM parishioners – this may be surprising to learn: Father Bob has a close connection to two very memorable OLMM priests going back to the 1980s.
When Father Bob was a seminarian, the priest assigned to mentor him at the Seminary in Huntington was Father John Cervini – a monsignor and a missionary who first served as OLMM’s passionate and popular pastor for 16 or 17 years (until 1999).
Additionally, one of OLMM’s regular parish priests for many years in the 1990’s and early 2000’s was Father Patrick Griffin – who, it turns out, was a friend of Fr. Bob's, as well as a colleague and fellow instructor at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington.
He is a born-and-bred New Yorker; the eldest of 3 boys whose family first lived in Long Island City, Queens before moving on to North Merrick (when Bob was 7 or 8 years old).
His maternal grandparents also lived at the Smith family residence in those years, and Fr. Bob credits his loving, very devout grandma of Italian heritage with deeply influencing his spiritual experience as a young Catholic.
Pastor Bob has strong memories of walking to Sacred Heart church with his grandma on many occasions when he was still a young boy. He enjoyed her company and was inspired by the ways in which she embraced and loved her religion.
Another powerful experience that propelled him towards the priesthood was suffering serious pneumonia as a child, not once but twice. When it happened the second time, and he had to be hospitalized…the pastor of his church came and paid a personal visit.
This was a wonderful bright light for bedridden Robert, and it seemed a glorious blessing that his pastor cared enough to visit him, boost his spirits and to wish him well in a dark and uncertain moment.
Back at home, Dad was a full-time National Guard soldier, but the military was not something that appealed in any way to Bob – and at some point during his high school years at Saint Pius X. he made the momentous decision to become a Roman Catholic priest.
EDUCATIONAL MILESTONES / BUILDING FOUNDATIONS
Soon it was time move on to the next chapter, and priest-to-be Bob Smith found himself at Cathedral College of the Immaculate Conception, Douglaston, New York where he earned a B.A. in Psychology (1977).
Next, to earn his Masters in Divinity, Father Bob attended the beautiful and secluded Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington. He was awarded his degree in 1983, and his “rookie year” as an ordained priest was as Associate Pastor at St. Thomas the Apostle in West Hempstead.
After 5 years at St. Thomas’s, Father Bob was asked to serve the people of our diocese in Syosset, at another large parish church, St. Edwards. During this time, Father Robert Smith found himself at an unexpected crossroads.
He was quietly encouraged by Bishop McGann to volunteer for more academia and Roman Catholic scholarship, and, not knowing what might be coming next, Father Bob did volunteer.
And very soon after this – he was made an offer he could not refuse! He would soon be relocating to Rome and Vatican City; a quite rare and exceptional opportunity that he was honored to accept. The ultimate goal of this? To earn a degree that is the highest attainable in Roman Catholic theology.
Father Bob studied diligently and immersed himself in the Italian language as quickly as he could. Soon, he could speak, read and write Italian, and was rewarded for his efforts by becoming a doctoral student in Rome for four years.
Father Bob greatly enjoyed his academic studies abroad. He worked hard and eventually earned his STL. And then – he reached the pinnacle as a Doctor of Theology with his STD in Moral Theology at Academia Alfonsiana (Pontifical Lateran University) in 1993.
But now, after these special and memorable years in Italy, it was time to head back to his home country.
BACK IN THE USA
With new credentials and ready to reengage with his Catholic brethren in New York,
Fr. Bob was assigned to the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington as a Professor of Moral Theology – a post he wound up holding for ten full years (1993 – 2003). Three years later, in 1996, Fr. Bob was asked to wear yet another "hat” and was appointed Academic Dean while he continued on as a professor.
The next chapter of Father Bob’s journey brought him to St. James Church in Setauket, where he was pastor for a dozen years. During his tenure there, Father Bob noted how the demographics of the Roman Catholic parishes on Long Island were changing. He saw the future in the present, and took it upon himself to learn Spanish – knowing this would become a valuable asset for him in the years ahead.
Thus, when it came time to take his leave from St. James, the Bishop’s decision to now send Father Bob to Huntington Manor / South Huntington and St. Hugh of Lincoln made perfect sense. His command of self-taught Spanish would expand his responsibilities and present a golden opportunity to serve the rapidly blooming community of Spanish speaking immigrant families in the South Huntington parish.
Although he is serving as a pastor in two different parishes these days, Father Bob finds time (just a little, evidently!) to enjoy playing guitar, power-walking and gardening. These are among his chief hobbies.
If you’ve had a chance to hear Fr. Bob’s excellent singing voice during masses at OLMM, you may rightly guess he’s a natural talent in music. That’s true – but did you know that he’s also a songwriter? He’s even had some hymns published in recent years! (No further information was available about Father Robert Smith’s songwriting career at press time! Will update as we learn more….)
Once again, OLMM has been blessed with yet another priest who is multi-talented, very smart and specially gifted; and he is already having a huge impact on our church and the range of communities it serves. We are so grateful to have Father Bob as our pastor and hope we can look forward to many years of having him in Wyandanch, leader of our historic and humble church.
Always a tall, strong, strapping man, but a man of genuine humility, Father Andy Connolly would be the first person to downplay any talk of himself as a heroic figure. But the truth is, to many OLMM parishioners who can still remember our modest parish and the way it was back in the 1960s and 1970s--he is still a legend. We are all blessed and very grateful to have him back again (since 2014) as a regularly visiting priest, serving the OLMM Parish just as he did decades ago.
Father Andy knew he wanted to be a priest when he was 6 years old. Even as a child, he was a self-assured little man of firm conviction! And, apparently, he has never wavered or questioned his special calling.
Andrew P. Connolly (born July 30th, 1930) grew up as the youngest of 3 sons in St. Albans, Queens. All four of his grandparents had been born and raised in Ireland, and both parents in New York City. The Connollys attended Ss. Joachim & Anne Roman Catholic Church in nearby Queens Village. The pastor there was Father Brosnahan, a man who had a great, positive influence on young Andy--reinforcing his desire to become a priest.
Another inspiring priest at the same church who helped mold and influence the future Fr. Connolly was a Passionist named Father Leopold. He encouraged Andy to become a Passionist too, and though the idea was appealing, he ultimately chose a different path.
R Y A N O U T R E A C H Programs Director
Until recently, Naycha split her duties between the Ryan Outreach Center and OLMM....but now, the GROC is lucky to have her at their disposal as a full-time, and very important staff leader.
Ms. Florival is also Director of the Summer Camp program for the Gerald Ryan Outreach Center—the very same camp she attended as a young teenager. It’s clear that Naycha is a special individual who truly embodies the values and spirit of both OLMM, and the Outreach.
The daughter of a father from the Dominican Republic, and a mother from Haiti, Naycha was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York until the family moved to Long Island in the 1990s.
As the middle sister (between Dorline and Marjorie) Naycha can remember the Sunday mornings of her youth when the three sisters begged to watch re-runs of “The Munsters”. However, their maternal grandmother was a devout Catholic, and not a big Munsters fan. And so, leaving their tv behind, they walked to mass every Sunday together. Yes, Grandma was a very strong, important early influence.
Now, in 2016, Naycha lives in Central Islip, the community of her teen years where she graduated from Central Islip High School. She’s the mother to two children of her own--a 9-year old girl, Rolanda, and 6-year-old Zackory.
As for Naycha’s own education, she credits several years in the North Babylon school district (where her family first lived after leaving Brooklyn) for raising her appreciation of learning and academics.
Thus, when the Florivals moved to Central Islip, she became a standout honors high school student...and later, after graduating from St. Joseph’s College on a full 4-year scholarship, Naycha earned her MS in Education from Long Island University.
May 25th, 2016
The Woman Behind
~ the story of ~
The Miraculous Medal
When the Virgin Mary and Her Blessed Son were born into the world, the world had almost no knowledge of their coming, nor of the new covenant between God and man that they heralded. It was much the same in 1806 when Catherine Laboure, the visionary of the Miraculous Medal, was born. She was a country farm girl, hidden in a pocket of the Burgundian hills in France. Certainly the brilliant skeptical world of Voltaire and the proud world of Napoleon Bonaparte would have snubbed her. Yet she heralded a new Marian era that begun what many call the Age of Mary.
Catherine Laboure was born on May 2, 1806 in the tiny village of Fain-les-moutiers, France, not far from Dijon. Her father, Pierre Laboure, owned the largest farm in the village and was an educated man, having studied for the priesthood in his youth. Her mother, Madeleine Louise Gontard, was a former school mis¬tress, whose family was well respected.
Catherine was the ninth of eleven children and during her adolescence her younger sister Marie Antoinette, or “Tonine”, was her close companion.While Tonine was the friend and confidante of her childhood and adolescence, Catherine's mother was the source of her sanctity and spiritual devotion, for Madame Laboure took pains to instill in her a special love of God and to lead her in the ways of holiness.
Sadly her beloved mother died when Catherine was only nine years old. In the midst of her terrible grief at her mother's passing, Catherine turned to Our Lady. Climbing up on a chair, she reached for a statue of the Blessed Virgin that stood high on a shelf in her mother's bed¬room, clasped it to her breast, and said aloud:"Now, dear Blessed Mother, you will be my mother."
R Y A N O U T R E A C H Executive Director
Noelle Campbell was born and raised in Amityville, including her high school years spent at Queen of the Rosary Academy. A graduate of Stony Brook University (with an MSW earned in 2005) Noelle has been the Gerald Ryan Outreach Center’s hardworking chief since November, 2007.
The Ryan Center provides a range of social services for Wyandanch residents, and on occasion, for others in nearby Town of Babylon communities—helping families and individuals in times of emergency or urgent need. The Center’s work can affect, directly or indirectly, up to 900 people in a single month.
When she took on her new role, Ms. Campbell was very experienced and quite capable (having logged over 15 years as a social worker before 11/07). But nothing could have fully prepared her for the misfortune the Outreach Center was about to face: just one month after she began her tenure as Executive Director, it burned to the ground.
Noelle at Ryan Outreach
Golf Outing Fundraiser
on May 25th, 2016
Additionally, the Ryan Outreach Center “reaches out” in many other ways by running a summer camp for local youths, offering immigration assistance for many newcomers to the USA, and by organizing and managing the distribution of holiday baskets at Thanksgiving and Christmas.