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The Bishop’s in Town

This past weekend, the new bishop of Brooklyn, Reverend Bishop Robert Brennen, came to Rockaway to say Mass on the beach. This was his third visit to Rockaway, not counting a Mass he said in Breezy Point. A native of Long Island, he reminisced of his youth growing up in a beach community and shared stories about being posted in Long Beach before his other assignments took him away from the beach. From his remarks, it was clear he loves the beach. That morning the sun was peeking through misted clouds settling over the ocean with seagulls lazily flying overhead as many in the neighborhood made their way over the dunes to gather for Mass.

The bishop was assisted by many in the parish who worked hard to make this Mass memorable. The folk group’s voices were crystal clear, and their harmonies pitch perfect. The hour-long celebration felt like it was only minutes long. The pastor of St. Francis de Sales, Father Bill, even told a joke not heard before, and that goes a long way to say how special this was. The bishop exuded a very genuine warmth and a gift for making a large event feel personal. He walked through the crowds prior to Mass and extended greetings to many, spending time with individuals and families, chatting and blessing as he went along. It’s nice to see a bishop so accessible, so open to the public. It certainly was refreshing.


The main topic he touched upon was focusing on the really big things in life, and specifically on faith, family, and friends; and then, let the other smaller things follow their course. Occasionally in life, we receive messages that we need to hear, and this message had special meaning; it seemed to be the right message at the right time. The aim of this column is not to preach, but to make observations about our community and to acknowledge that there are good people still in this world and they are with us now. Too often we are bombarded with negative news through the media, and it becomes easy to be cynical, afraid, or negative ourselves. That Sunday morning with the sun shining brightly, the waves gently rolling in and sand shifting softly beneath our feet, surrounded by neighbors and friends and a bishop who came to the people, a certain lightness was felt, a sense that things were ok. That we were once again one with nature, and that all faiths are bound to each other in sharing the bounty of this planet earth.

We have many good and honorable people in our community, and we are blessed to live where we do. It is so nice to see friendly faces when walking around town, smiling, and saying hello, inquiring genuinely how you are. So many talented, giving individuals who work behind the scenes making everything just a little bit better, a little bit easier, a little bit nicer. So, on this Labor Day, lets salute all those that make life better, kinder, gentler, and worth living. Thank you, bishop, for being a friend to the Rockaways. Thank you for reminding us to focus on the big things, and not to let the small things get in the way, and to appreciate the beauty of the beach with all that nature affords us. It truly is a place where you will never lose the sand between your toes.

By Lou Pastina

Photos by Tom Farley.

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