2000-10-21 / Columnists

On The Beach…

When Father Peter Gillen reflected on how he would describe those who were being honored by Saint Rose Parish at their annual dinner dance, he said that there was one specific word that echoed through his mind; a word that is a common thread shared by each of the honorees. The word: "beauty". He remarked that while we are surrounded by beauty in the form of nature with our ocean, bay, boardwalk..., God also manifests and reflects his beauty through each individual in some unique way.

The theme of the occasion, called "A Night of Roses" is about the celebration of the many forms of expressed beauty. Nearly 400 people from various parts of our community stepped out to an elegant fete at Russo's On The Bay to honor and pay tribute to those who most express this element of beauty through the work of their lives.

As Father Peter pondered the names of those who would be honored, the first name to come to mind is a woman who exemplifies this, as well as the beauty of the Saint Rose Parish. Her name is Joan Perkins, Saint Rose Parish secretary. Father Gillen described the way Joan graciously welcomes everyone to our home and office and the beauty of her patience in the rectory. He commended Joan's 14 years of service as Parish secretary and said to Joan, "You make us look good and our world more beautiful." Mrs. Perkins thanked Father Devine for having hired her and stated to Father Gillen, "Through your vision and your love of Christ, you bring out the best in all those who work for you."

The next person who exudes such beauty is a woman named Rita Sweeney whom Father Peter recalled as having come to the rectory years ago to volunteer and how she hasn't gone home yet! Ms. Sweeney does all the printing and parish news bulletins. Father Gillen described Rita as "a steward of God's gift, time, and talent. She's the real McCoy!"

As the theme of the evening was about an expression of beauty, it was most appropriate that the parish would choose to honor two renowned artists who, through their specific God-given talent, have given back to the church with their art. They are the "two Patricks"! Father Peter remarked that "the images of the art work of both Patrick Antonelle and Patrick Clark are an expression of the art of their lives and that we recognize beauty as being a gift from God." A very elegant and humble Patrick Antonelle, who is well-renowned in the international art world as the "American Renoir", addressed the audience. "I don't really consider what I do a very big deal. I thank God for the talent I have; yet to receive such a big thing as a result of such a little thing is really a wonderful honor."

As someone who owns several Patrick Antonelle prints, I am personally so awed by the gift this artist has been given and that a human being could actually create such beauty with his extraordinary use of color. I am equally awed by the fact that such a master talent resides among us in our community. The few occasions I've had to meet Mr. Antonelle, I immediately felt the spiritual beauty of this man. How lucky we are to have him!

The art of Patrick Clark was described by Father Peter as being "a gift that comes from a great heart." Patrick was first commissioned by Father Devine in 1985 to restore the stained glass at Saint Rose. It was there while living at the rectory that he met Richard and Teri Magnifico who commissioned him to restore the stained glass in their home, "Magnifico Castle". Patrick's glass mosaic, "Trinity", can be seen at Saint Rose. He has made restored stained glass in more than 150 churches and synagogues in the New York area. In collaboration with architects, his work in mosaics, cast crystal panels, and blown glass are in homes all around Long Island and New York. Patrick is a founder, first president, and member of the board of directors of the Rockaway Artists Alliance. His vision is to develop a national stained glass training institute at the Russell Sage Memorial Church, as well as a glass blowing center at the RAA Fort Tilden Arts Center.

The always very dashing Patrick Clark referred to the other honorees of the evening and stated, "I know why they're being honored, but why are you honoring me?" He thanked Father Peter and the parish for "having been given the opportunity to create. That's what we artists live for!"

"A Night of Roses" was truly a night of beauty and an affair to remember!

***Now, whether you take the #4 or the #7 or simply go by car, you'll get to the heart of it, New York, New York!


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