2005-02-18 / Letters


St. Virgilius Closing

Dear Editor,

It was with great dismay that the news of the potential demise of St. Virgilius School reached my ears. As an alumnus of St. Virgilius and a past president of the church’s Parish Council I felt a visceral reaction to the news. The potential closing of St. Virgilius School does more than deprive the people of the parish the right to educate their children in both their faith and their community, it signals a prospective death knell for a community and a way of life. Many of us remember a simpler time in both Broad Channel and here on the Rockaway peninsula, a time when children played in the streets without fear, a time when neighbors knew each other and cared for each other, a time when we were a community.

Bishop DeMarzio, Monsignor Hardiman and John Wtulich know nothing of our way of life in the Rockaways; they know nothing of our community. Yet they seem determined to destroy it and to put it to rest. We must not allow this happen. The parents of St. Virgilius need our help. This is not a battle they can win alone. Members of the parish, alumni of the school, the people of Broad Channel and the greater community of the Rockaway Peninsula must stand up and say NO, to the closing of St. Virgilius.

The Wave reported last week that some craven individuals have stated that we “must bow to the authority of the Bishop and the Parish Administrator” – that is not true either emotionally or under Canon law. While the recently arrived parish administrator Father Wtulich may find some solace in hiding behind an outdated concept of Canon law and claim that his vow of obedience applies here, the people of the parish, and the residents of the community took no such vow. The Bishop is not nor has he ever been under Canon law the final arbitrator of what becomes of Parish property or funds. Nor for that matter must Father Wtulich hide behind the veil of his vows. He in entitled to respectfully disagree. He chooses not to. He chooses to ignore the needs of his parish and community.

The closing of St. Virgilius will forever change our way of life in the Rockaways. The destruction by the Diocese of the school will lead to the closing of the church as surely as night follows day. All one needs to do is drop by a Sunday mass at St. Virgilius, as I did several weeks ago, to see the lifeless, uninteresting and truly lost service that is currently being conducted there as the administrator of the parish leads the death toll of the community. When the church closes as its lifeblood drains, the community spirit will spiral downward. The Broad Channel Athletic Club will lose their CYO affiliation and sports on the island will cease. With no positive outlet for our young people, parents will begin to sell their homes, no young families will move in and the community will begin to crumble. The “Little Church” of our Protestant brethren on the island will not long outlive her “big brother” next door. As families flee the deserted island, her doors will shut.

And so Bishop DeMarzio will have succeeded in doing what so many had tried to do for so long. He will have turned Broad Channel into a ghost town. When I was a child Mayor Lindsey wanted to make Broad Channel a golf course, or a runway extension of JFK. For years the city denied us the right to buy our land. Bishop DeMarzio is not the first threat to the way of life in Broad Channel - he is just the latest.

Steps must be taken and quickly if St. Virgilius is to be saved. I urge and suggest the following:

• The financial books of the school and parish must be opened to an independent auditor. The parish, according to The Wave, has more than enough funds to operate next year. Let that officially be entered into the debate.

• The parents of St. Virgilius must commit to enrolling their children there next year. The alternative must not be considered. If the principals and teachers will commit to being there next year, then the parents must do the same.

• The pastors of St. Camillus and St. Rose of Lima (an alumnus of St. Virgilius himself) must stand united with the parishioners of St. Virgilius, as their parishes will host the children of the closed school like refugees from an attack. The parish councils of these two parishes must do the same. A statement to the Bishop, via this newspaper, indicating support for St. Virgilius must be issued. They must vow not to profit on the treachery of the diocese.

• Father Wtulich must either commit himself to leading and guiding the people of his parish or resign and allow a pastor who shares the love of the community to be appointed to help the parish through this difficult time.

• Across the cluster of the peninsula churches must begin prayer vigils for St. Virgilius. This battle will not be won without the will of the Almighty and we must be prepared to ask for His aid in this battle.

If we are smart, if we are wise, this battle can be won. But before it can be won it must be joined. I do know who is leading the charge to save St. Virgilius. I have heard that the parents are organizing. I hope they are. I hope that they accept my offer to help. I hope that they are flooded with offers to help. I hope that the residents of Broad Channel, whether their child goes to St. Virgilius or not, stand up together as we always have to fight those who would destroy what we have built. I hope that the other parishes in the cluster stand with St. Virgilius. I hope that the other residents of the Rockaway peninsula stand with Broad Channel. For surely if we do not stand at this point, our way of life will die.


Paper Makes Me Ill

Dear Editor,

When I received my copy of The Wave on January 28, I never got past page four.

This is due to the fact that I upchucked upon viewing the drawing of Barbara Boxer on your editorial page, and her resemblance to Michael Jackson. They have a lot in common in that they mouth off a lot of balderdash, which some fools actually believe.

The war on terror should include terrorists in city, state and government who disguise themselves as perennial idiots.

To those who do not know, or also pretend not to know, then you too are an idiot.

They include Boxer, Schumer, Clinton, Schumer, Feinstein, Brady, Barnes, Kennedy, Kerry, Israel and many others.

Can you guess what they have in common? And who the rest are?

As far as boxer goes, a radio talk show host says that she should be running a “brassiere” store in Queens.

Can I have a replacement copy to read? Thank you.


Far Rock Bank Controversy

Dear Editor,

The following letter was sent to Dan Delehanty of the New York State Banking Department.

I am writing to you to comply with the comment period ending February 14, 2005. I know you are aware North Fork Bank became owners of our local Greenpoint Bank branch in Far Rockaway.

The bank previously made a decision to move the local branch to Mott Avenue almost a mile away. After meeting with residents and customers, the decision was made by Mr. George Vogel, Vice President of Marketing, for North Fork Bank, to leave the local branch opened 3 days a week – Monday, Wednesday and Friday – only for a trial period.

As we stated in the meeting, we are very happy to have our needed branch continue to operate, however, we want to make it very clear that we have many concerns because our branch is currently very crowded on most days. Therefore, we would like to make sure that New York State Banking is aware that this decision we feel perhaps is not well thought out.

Our branch is very crowded on most days, especially two or three days a month, when checks for our residents arrive. This is because most of our people rely on government monies to survive – social security, disability, SSI and retirement plans.

As I stated in the article recently published on Sunday, February 6, in Newsday Early Edition, this decision should be carefully reviewed by New York State Baking and other authorities. We also feel a very close look should be given to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to make sure this bank is in complete compliance.


Lots of Questions

Dear Editor:

As you are probably aware, all A train service to/from Rockaway Park has been suspended indefinitely.  Why?  Well, let’s tell you what we’ve ascertained so far. 

When asked for help, Joe Addabbo’s office wants to know what Anthony Weiner’s office is doing about it.  Why does Joe Addabbo’s office urge us to contact our state assembly members to have the MTA make the necessary changes instead helping us himself?  Is the reason Joe Addabbo isn’t helping the residents of Rockaway because he is not up for reelection???

When asked, Jonathan Gaska of CB 14 says, more or less, “Que sera sera.” 

When asked, Audrey Pheffer writes a letter to the MTA “sincerely requesting” service be increased. When there was public speaking at the City Council Hearing on February 3, why did the MTA officials and Joe Addabbo decide to leave before Rockaway Park A service was discussed, when clearly, there were people there to discuss it? One gentleman (a new homeowner in Rockaway Park) took a half-day off from work without pay to be there. 

Why were our three officials (Addabbo, Pheffer and Weiner) at the train station two weeks ago and, instead of talking about A train suspension, they were pushing ferry service and asking FEMA to assist with funding?  Maybe Anthony Weiner should push for FEMA funding to get all the residents from Rockaway Park bus service directly into Manhattan.  Ferry service is a great idea, but not very feasible economically for your average Rockaway commuter. They do not mention the fact that, at a minimum, your weekly commute would be increased by $50 (for one household member, $100 for two members commuting to NYC).  That is if you live and work near both ferry terminals.  Then there is the commute to and from the piers (not everyone works in the financial district and not everyone lives near Riis Park).  Why weren’t these elected officials (which by the way were elected by the residents of Rockaway) at the train station that day demanding A train service to Rockaway Park be reinstated immediately? 

We don’t know. We would like some answers.  Maybe there should be a “town hall” meeting scheduled as soon as possible for the residents of Rockaway Park to be able to discuss these issues with our elected officials.  Will they be up for it?  Probably not since their terms more or less have just started?

Now, your article last week stated all service to Rockaway Park would be suspended for three months starting in March.  Track work has been ongoing for years in our area (mostly on weekends and non-rush hours).  Why, all of a sudden, will it have to be done every single day for three months during the rush hours?  Now, it seems, Rockaway Park service will be non-existent for that period of time.  Why not continue the work on weekends and non-rush hours?

Many new homes are cropping up overnight in our area. What does a developer tell a prospective home buyer who will have to travel into Manhattan daily in order to make a living about transportation from the Rockaways, that there is no rapid transportation? Quite a selling point.

We plead with you to print this letter. Perhaps, after reading it, more commuters will be asking why and demanding better answers.



Respect The Law

Dear Editor,

I was really surprised to read the letter by Mr. Mo Sartor, titled “Respect Parking Cones.” Doesn’t he know or care that the public streets are for the use of the public. Public parking spots cannot be reserved by putting cones, garbage cans, chairs, etc., in the parking spots. It’s illegal – a crime.

Mr. Sartor writes that he punished a woman by putting his cone on her legally parked car and blocked her by his own car when she removed his illegal cone to park her car to go to the Broad Channel train station.

Mr. Sartor claims that the 100 Precinct should “fight crime.” I agree with him. It seems to me that Mr. Sartor committed the crime. He claims that he couldn’t understand why the woman called the 100 Precinct to deal with the situation. Maybe an officer from the 100 Precinct should visit Mr. Sartor on West Road and educate him about the law.


Catholic Sczhool Closings

Dear Editor,

I read with some puzzlement your article captioned “Weiner Urges Diocese To Reconsider Closings”. How grand! How noble! In reality, how hypocritical and much grandstanding on his part!

Congressman Weiner can be of assistance. He can sponsor a bill in the House of Representatives in favor of school vouchers for families sending their children to private schools at the primary and secondary levels. Federal funding is already provided to all eligible college students attending public or private colleges.

Public school administrators are now faced with the reality of absorbing thousands of Catholic school students into an already crowded public school system. In a sense, their “free ride” is over in the public sector. It will cost approximately $11,000 per year per each new student. Wouldn’t it make fiscal sense to say give a $5,000 tuition voucher for each private school student to keep them in private schools? The taxpayer savings are significant.


March Is Social Work Month

Dear Editor,

March is National Social Work Month, and I'd like to tell you and your readers about how the social work profession is playing a vital role in the community.

Professional social workers have the right education, experience and dedication to empower individuals and families to help themselves whenever and wherever they need it most. Social workers are found in private agencies, private practices, mental health facilities, government, prisons, hospitals, nursing facilities, etc. In efforts of empowering individuals and families, I have been trained to look at all dimensions of the individual's life and culture to help them achieve well being.

Social workers understand complex support systems, family dynamics and the energy required to connect, support and seek resources that are needed. We are required to focus on a person's strengths and needs, not their weaknesses. Social workers make every effort for people to reach their potential. The desire to help others is often genuine, but the demands are emotionally and physically challenging and the stress level is high. For this reason, social workers must learn to take care of one self while we continue to make the world a better place, one person, one family, one challenge at a time.

This month, please join SCO Family of Service formerly St. Christopher-Ottilie Services for Children and Families in paying tribute to the contributions social workers make within our agency and within the communities of Queens, Brooklyn, Nassau and Suffolk County.


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