Good afternoon. My name is Michael Engrassia. My family and I have been parishioners at Our Lady of Grace for the past 14 years. Shortly before getting married, my wife (Mary Lou) was researching where we might live and came upon an apartment in West Babylon. With the arrival of our beautiful daughter Abigail from China, we moved into a house in August 2006.
When we first arrived here, I had been working at an agency that served people with HIV/AIDS and Christa House was just opening. I remember one woman who volunteered at my agency and the discussions we had over the years about the need for the poor and indigent to have a place so they could live their remaining days in peace and die with dignity. I must admit I was a little proud that place turned out to be my parish. I know it wasn’t popular but sometimes I think we’re presented with situations that reveal who we are – our spirit, our nature, our essence. Several years later, I was working at Catholic Charities. They were in process of opening 2 houses for the developmentally disabled. Again, Our Lady of Grace was there to welcome them, to live the gospel through its words and actions.
Over time my family slowly became more involved in the parish. I’m a member of the parish’s pastoral council and coach boys basketball for CYO (which I’m passionate about). My wife is a Eucharistic Minister and a Catechist. My daughter is an altar server, sings in the children’s choir and oh by the way – plays soccer. Guess who provided the land for the fields where so many of her memories and friendships are being created. That’s right – Our Lady of Grace.
It’s been 2 weeks since Father Vin spoke about the financial difficulties the parish is experiencing. My wife and I had literally just been talking about the amount we give and pledged to give more as soon as I return to work. That’s right I’m unemployed. A few years ago I went back to college to get my second master’s to increase my earning potential. I got a job in NYC and was laid off 10 months ago. Now we’re paying backing the student loans I needed to go to school without the job I expected to pay for it – so I know about financial difficulties. Two weeks ago, after hearing Father Vin say “giving should pinch a little” I found myself having not only to re-evaluate the amount we plan to give upon my returning to work but the amount we currently give as well. The reason I say this is because even now – with me not working – we still manage to go to Ralph’s for ice cream every week and get bagels after mass and have pizza on Fridays. Truth be known, I’m not sure that if we gave more – I’d actually have to give anything. Honestly – I don’t know. Do you – are you sure?
And given how much my family and I have received from this parish I realize I’m guilty of not giving what I could. This is the place my daughter received her first communion. It’s the place where she will make her confirmation. It’s the place she attends camp and it’s the place she’s looking forward to becoming Counselor in Training at camp.
And if this parish has been there for you and/or your family – now is the time to evaluate what you can give.
Now is the time to volunteer and become involved in one our many ministries.
Now is the time to speak with your friends who need child care and refer them to our day care or angel care program.
And lastly, now is the time for each of us to reassess the amount we each give each week so Our Lady of Grace can remain the vibrant, gospel filled community it is for all of us and for those who have yet to come through its doors and be welcomed. Thank you!