From Writers At St. Francis de Sales


Nancy Re, writing teacher at SFDS, wanted to share students’ writing with The Rockaway Times. The students in grades six and seven were competing to get their work published in The Tablet. Students were required to write about local people and organizations that exemplified the theme of SERVICE AND LEADERSHIP. (The Rockaway Times is pleased to present two now and two pieces more next week).


“Have I Done Enough?”

 (A memorial tribute to my Grandfather)

By Julia Turchiano, Grade 7

 A man of service and leadership who has been known throughout the Rockaway community is Patrick Morgan. As the oldest son of five, loving husband, father of two, and grandfather to five girls, he always set a good example in his Roman Catholic family. As his brother, John, once said, “He was a tough act to follow,” and all that knew Morgan would agree.  When Morgan was younger, he always convinced his brothers and sisters to go to their local parish and help clean up. Mr. Patrick Morgan went through many hardships in his life including his mother passing away at a young age, getting diagnosed with leukemia after his first granddaughter was born, and having to carry around an oxygen tank with him in order to breathe as he traveled throughout the neighborhood. Patrick Morgan put on a brave face, didn’t complain, and put others first, no matter what he was facing.                                

As an adult, Morgan continued to lead his own service projects, even while battling cancer, to fundraise money for the less fortunate. Morgan contributed his time and service to the Sisters of Mercy at the Dorothy Bennett Center and the Catholic Church. Before he got sick, he worked a full-time job and volunteered helping adult immigrants learn English with his limited spare time at the center. Even when Morgan became ill, he continued to dedicate his time to the Sisters of Mercy, but mostly over the phone and on the computer. Eventually, the Sisters of Mercy elected Morgan as their leader and chairperson to help develop the center further. He was able to get air conditioning, new paint, up-to-date computers and other equipment for the center.  After 13 years of volunteering, he passed away and the Sisters of Mercy dedicated a room to him as a tribute to his service and leadership.

The life Morgan lived left an impact on others, such as his family members, the community, and even  his friend, Jim Cunningham, a St. Francis de Sales reverend. Morgan was comforted when Cunningham came to visit him to talk, laugh and pray together when he was very sick. They discussed the many times in Morgan’s life when he was able to find time for others and reflect on the impact of his work. At Morgan’s funeral Mass, Reverend Cunningham shared a little about their talks. He shared that at one point, Pat Morgan looked up and asked,  “Have I done enough?” Reverend Cunningham stated that he told Morgan that he was humbled by the question because most people, including himself, have not contributed half as much to society as Pat did before his passing.

“Have I done enough?” left the church assembly and the family to reflect on their contributions to society. It was up to them to learn from Pat Morgan’s service and look for ways to give back to the community. As a young person, you may ask yourself, “What can I do to make a difference?” In your community, there are many ways to help. You can help your community by cleaning up in the environment, participating in Mass, doing random acts of kindness, and always finding ways to make a difference in someone’s life. You can talk to your local parish and ask about teen groups and community service opportunities. It is time to give back and find ways that you can lead and influence others to help out in your community. It is time to ask yourself, "Have you done enough?"


A Tribute to Herman Schmitt

 By Ce Ce Franchock, Grade 6

 When I think of a leader, I think about someone who leads by example. Someone who gives his or her time and service back to one’s community. We recently lost a lifelong member of our parish, Mr. Herman Schmitt, who comes to mind as a great example of service and leadership. A memorial Mass was held on Friday, January 3 for Herman Michael Schmitt at St. Francis de Sales parish in Belle Harbor, Queens. Herman Schmitt was born on June 14, 1933 and passed away on December 28, 2019. Herman was 86 years old when he passed away at his home, surrounded by his loving family. He leaves behind his beloved wife, Eileen, four children: Therese, Kathleen, Michael & William and 13 grandchildren.

Schmitt was a retired NYC school teacher, as well as a lifelong organist at St. Francis de Sales parish. As a teacher, Herman encouraged his students to learn and grow. He always continued to support the arts and music. He was committed to his role as a professional teacher in the Board of Education. Another role Schmitt had was developing the music program at St. Francis de Sales. He and his wife, Eileen, had a significant role overseeing the music ministry at our parish. Mrs. Schmitt was a substitute teacher at SFDS for decades and she and her husband played and sang at hundreds of weddings, funerals, and weekly Masses. Mr. Schmitt’s gift of music was his ministry and for that he will always be remembered as a devout servant of our parish and academy. Schmitt spent several decades dedicated as the parish organist at St. Francis de Sales. He later moved to St. Camillus parish to help assist with their music program. These two jobs (teacher and organist) demonstrate Schmitt’s  service and commitment to our parish and community. This beloved father and grandfather will be missed by all and remembered forever.

After reading the pamphlet from Mr. Schmitt’s memorial Mass, I wanted to share the beautiful poem chosen by his family to celebrate his life.


A Beautiful Life

 A beautiful life

That came to an end,

He died as he lived,

Everyone’s friend.

In our hearts a memory

Will always be kept,

Of one we loved, and

Will never forget.


Thank you for your service, musical talent and dedication to St. Francis de Sales Parish!

Rest in peace ~ Herman Michael Schmitt

June 14, 1933 - December 28, 2019