Father Rokosz’s New Year’s blessing

When St. Joseph’s church in Duryea was closed for good, I joked with Father Charles Rokosz, pastor of St. Joe’s and two other Duryea parishes, that I was considering buying it and starting my own religion. “Hold off on that idea,” he responded without hesitation. “When Sacred Heart closes we’ll be offering buy one, get one free.” And when St. Mary’s church in Avoca was about to be merged with Saints Peter & Paul, Father Rokosz proposed a name for the new parish: Saints Peter, Paul and Mary. One Sunday morning during an oppressive summer heat wave, he stopped to… Continue Reading

A little Christmas every day

I attended Christmas Mass at an out-of-town church and, save for the carols, it lacked the Christmas feeling I am used to in the churches of Greater Pittston. Fortunately, the celebrant made up for it. The priest announced that before Mass could begin, everyone had to offer a greeting to the folks seated near them. That was pretty neat. And, as things often do, it reminded me of a story. I so wish I could remember this other priest’s name, but I encountered him only once and that was several years ago. He was pinch-hitting at the church I was… Continue Reading

A different Christmas tradition

My sister and her husband will probably be going to the movies Christmas night, but it won’t be because of the hype surrounding the release of “The Interview.” It will be because it’s Christmas. Sheila is a few years older than I and her husband Paul a few years older than she, so their dating world, in the mid-60s, was somewhat different from mine. It included a traditional Christmas night date to the movies. From the time they started “going steady” they would get dressed up — Paul in a jacket and tie — and go to a movie on… Continue Reading

Back to Red Kettle Saturday

It was like that scene in The Godfather when Michael Corleone guns down those two guys in the little Italian restaurant. Well, a little like it. Instead of finding a gun that was left for me in the bathroom and coming out shooting, I found a Santa suit and came out ho-ho-going. It was at the Moose Club in West Pittston. I’d say Christmas of ’85. I was the young guy on the Salvation Army advisory board and Major Ruth Pryce asked me to fill in at the board’s Christmas party for the regular Santa who had taken ill. She… Continue Reading

The best gift is you

Except for some fancy footwork to acquire a hard-to-come-by Nintendo one year and a down-to-the-wire acquisition of a White Ranger another, procuring Christmas toys for my son was relatively easy. He was a huge Ghostbusters fan for several years and picking up the firehouse or ECTO-2 vehicle one year, or ECTO-blaster and proton pack the next was a piece of cake. Still, no matter how many times his Christmas list was filled to the tee by Santa, for most of his early years my son and I wound up doing the same thing each Christmas evening: sword fighting with the… Continue Reading