Friday, 18 January 2013 00:00
On May 20, 1648, at what’s now the corner of West John Street and Cantiague Rock Road in Hicksville, Robert Williams and a small gathering of Christian men met with Pugnipan and other representatives of the Matinecock Indians and acquired the rights to settle the land that became Hicksville, Jericho, and parts of Woodbury. The event was captured in a 1936 WPA mural by Joseph Phsioc and resides in the Hicksville Middle School. Most interesting is what these Quakers and their Indian hosts pledged to one another: “do for miself and in beehalfe of [others] to bargin sell and make over unnto the sayed Robert Williams his ares executors administrators and asines from teme pesuably to ingay forever for us our ares and sucksessers forever also.” Other 17th century Indian deeds in our area read similar.
The peaceful Quaker folk from England granted the right to live in harmony amongst the Indians and their posterity. Their “ares and sucksessers” included Ellias Hicks who, from the Jericho Meeting House, called slavery “the most unrighteous and cruel act anyone can be guilty of short of murder,” and those Quakers in Jerusalem (North Wantagh/South Levittown) who shunned addictive and injurious things like tobacco. And they who signed the Flushing Remonsterance calling for religious freedom and sought negotiation in the face of the Duke of York’s truculence and nonviolent resistance a century later when British troops occupied Long Island and stationed a Hessian force in Jericho. These Christians, first to speak out against slavery, the oppression of the helpless and the poor, and the conspiring to sow discord and instigate wars, would have been far more flabbergasted by our moral condition than our technological capacities.
Our school districts here on Long Island are assuming the necessary measures to ensure the safety of children in light of the recent mass murder of elementary school students in Newtown, Connecticut. Yet evil against children is the new moral stain comparable to slavery in days of old and we - like the Quakers of Jericho, Jerusalem, and Bethpage - see it far and near. Our malls, box stores, and shopping centers with their poverty wages and Christmas Day openings overflow with merchandise manufactured by child slave labor in Third World sweatshops. Our communities, proudly established for soldiers who fought the tyrants and warlords who would subdue us, must confront the fact that our national leaders now wage wars against countries that never attacked us, killing thousands of innocent people - many children. Children grow up in poverty - yes, even in our community - because of rising taxes, falling wages, and billionaire business executives who outsource their parent’s jobs. Too many children in urban (and some suburban) areas attend schools overrun with guns, gangs, and drugs; live in communities that have become havens for people who live destructive and anti-social lifestyles and parasitize off the honest and hardworking.
We have much to learn from the Quakers and their Matinecock brethren who endeavored to plan a future in which their heirs and successors would know prosperity and peaceful coexistence. Still, the outpouring of sympathy for the people of Newtown, Connecticut, from a nation so depraved in its indifference to the plight of the world’s children, is a hopeful sign.
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 00:00
The members of the eighth-grade graduating class at Jonas E. Salk Middle School proceeded down the aisles of the school’s gymnasium in a ceremonial moving-up tradition, as proud parents and family members watched from the bleachers. Class officers led the salute to the flag, after which the eighth-grade chorus, conducted by Lisa Levenberg, sang the national anthem.
Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
When Msgr. Ralph Sommer was growing up he found inspiration from the example of his uncle, Father Ralph Besendorfer. “He was a Brooklyn priest,” said Msgr. Sommer, who is known to parishioners as “Father Sommer” or “Father Ralph.”
“My uncle was a most powerful and delightful influence, happy, caring, and helpful,” said Father Sommer, outgoing pastor of St. Brigid’s Church, in Westbury. “I would look at him and say, ‘I could do that.’”
For a number of years, Father Besendorfer would come out to St. Bernard’s in Levittown on weekends to assist.
Now, Father Sommer finds himself about to become pastor of St. Bernard’s on June 26, succeeding Msgr. Gerard Ringenback, pastor of St. Bernard’s since 2001.
He doesn’t know if anyone at St. Bernard’s will remember his uncle, Father Sommer said, but “if I meet people who remember him from that time, it will be a nice thing.”
Born in Flushing, Queens, Father Sommer grew up in Garden City, attending St. Anne’s School. He advanced to St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary, a high school for young men considering the priesthood.
“It was a caring community,” with priest-instructors and students who shared an interest in exploring the priesthood.
For college, he left the seminary system for Adelphi University near his home. “I walked every day. We didn’t have another car.”
Adelphi offered an opportunity to test his vocation. He majored in psychology, “which I thought would help me if I became a priest.”
After Adelphi, he returned to priestly studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington. Upon graduation, he was ordained a priest in 1983.
Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
Senior pitcher Anthony Semonella at Division Avenue High School has received a scholarship from the University of Bridgeport and has signed a National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the collegiate level. He was joined by parents Donna and Ralph Semonella, Principal Dr. Francesco Ianni, Physical Education Chairperson Mauro Chiti and varsity baseball coach Tom Tuttle as he signed a letter confirming his acceptance to the university’s athletic program.
Photo provided by Syntax
Thursday, 13 June 2013 00:00
St. Thomas Aquinas College freshman Robert Naughton, of Levittown, has made his impact known in the NCAA Baseball East Coast Conference. Naughton started out his 2013 campaign not allowing an earned run in the first 19 innings he pitched.
At completion of his first season Naughton pitched 58 innings compiling a record of 6-1, leading the East Coast Athletic Conference with an era of 1.54.