WINDSOR TERRACE — Vincent Arcuri Jr., a parishioner of St. Pancras Church in Glendale, recalled that a few years in the past, when he was 18, he joined the Knights of Columbus on the urging of fellow parishioners.
Becoming a member of a gaggle to assist individuals planted a seed in him. Years later, he utilized for membership on Queens Neighborhood Board 5 (Glendale-Center Village) and was appointed. He’s now the board’s chairman.
Arcuri believes his Catholic religion propelled him into his group board function.
“I feel it’s in all probability the best way we have been raised,” he stated. “Catholics are raised to respect all people and to assist all people,” he stated.
Everywhere in the Diocese of Brooklyn, parishioners are rolling up their sleeves, becoming a member of group boards and civic teams, and dealing on the grassroots stage to make their neighborhoods higher locations to stay.
The connection between Catholicism and civic involvement “is just not a coincidence,” stated Fran Vella-Marrone, president of the Dyker Heights Civic Affiliation.
“You deliver your religion into all the things you do,” she stated.
The teamwork concerned in getting a group mission off the bottom, like a graffiti clear up or a petition drive, comes naturally to Catholics, in response to Vella-Marrone, a parishioner of St. Ephrem Church.
“We don’t pray in church alone. We’re used to coming collectively as a group,” she stated.
One of many locations Catholics have discovered a voice is serving on group boards.
There are 59 group boards in New York Metropolis — every board can have as much as 50 members. The boards advise Metropolis Corridor on such points as zoning and land use and act as a liaison between neighborhood residents and metropolis authorities. The members, who’re unpaid volunteers, are appointed by the borough president and a neighborhood Metropolis Council member. One should stay or work in the neighborhood board space so as to serve.
Priscilla Consolo grew to become a Brooklyn Neighborhood Board 11 member when she was an aide to Assemblyman William Colton, whose district included elements of Bensonhurst, the identical neighborhood lined by the board. Working for Colton fostered in her a need to work on grassroots points. However it was one thing else, too.
“I feel it was a part of my Catholic upbringing — the will to serve individuals,” stated Consolo, a parishioner at Our Woman of Grace Church in Gravesend.
Through the years, she has met monks and parish leaders who impressed her in that course.
Consolo, a lawyer, is now not a Board 11 member, however she hasn’t left group board life behind. She has utilized for membership on Brooklyn Neighborhood Board 15, which represents elements of Gravesend, the place she lives.
Eugene Kelty Jr., chairman of Queens Neighborhood Board 7 (Flushing-School Level-Whitestone) and president of the Whitestone Boosters Civic Affiliation, is a parishioner of the Church of St. Mel in Flushing.
He didn’t at all times make the connection between religion and civic life.
“My household has at all times been in civil service, serving to individuals,” stated Kelty, a retired FDNY battalion chief.
He at all times assumed that coming from a household of cops, firefighters, and sanitation staff was the rationale he grew to become lively.
“I suppose the muse was there. We simply didn’t understand it,” he stated whereas considering again on his childhood and attending church.
New York Metropolis doesn’t require group board candidates to disclose their faith, so discovering information on the numbers of Catholics is tough. However group board members and civic group leaders who spoke to The Pill stated they consider there are vital numbers of Catholics of their ranks.
Monks can even be a part of group boards, in response to Deacon Julio Barreneche, secretary for clergy personnel for the diocese.
“There aren’t any restrictions for clergy to serve on group boards. Whereas it would appear to be political in nature, it’s actually a service to the group and never a political workplace,” he stated. “Holding a political workplace is a unique story. An elected workplace, or one thing like that, is just not permitted.”
Msgr. David Cassato, the pastor of St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, can also be a member of Brooklyn Neighborhood Board 11.
“I feel it’s essential for Catholics to be concerned in what’s occurring of their neighborhoods, like becoming a member of the group board,” he stated. “It’s the place choices are made.”
“As Catholics, we’re revered. Our enter is listened to,” he added.