2014-03-07 / Columnists

Slice of Life

Longtime Organist Struck A Chord
by Beth Hanning

I never knew how much I appreciated Rockaway until I lived in Indiana. When I registered my children for school I almost cried when I looked at the emergency card. I had no idea who I was going to ask to pick up my children if I could not get there. In Rockaway I always had so many people that I wrote on the back of the card.

I included all relatives so if I needed them they would be permitted to pick up for me.

I honestly think that before I moved to the Midwest I actually believed that all communities had the familiarity that we have here in Rockaway. Doesn’t everyone recognize the voice of the administrative assistant at the doctor’s office? Doesn’t everyone know the same person at their children’s school, because you baby-sat for them? How many residents of other communities can say that they are in Waldbaum’s for over an hour because you knew someone in every aisle?

Rockaway Strong. This slogan was printed on bumper stickers and was said repeatedly after the storm. The veteran organization Team Rubicon that specialized in natural disasters informed me that they had never seen a community such as the Rockaways.

All those true, wonderful things are what have me so upset about a recent event in my parish. Ever since I can remember, whether it was as a student at St. Francis de Sales in the 1980s or as a parent and parishioner in the last 10 years, Herman Schmitt was a presence in the parish as the parish’s organist. Whenever one attended 12 o’clock Mass, Mr. Herman was up on the balcony. If you attended a school event with music, Herman was right up front playing the piano. Upon learning of Herman’s dismissal from the parish I told someone that I cannot remember the parish without him. I was then informed that he has been in the parish for 46 years.

Not only is Herman the organist, it states on the parish website that he has been the choir director for over 30 years. The choir sings at 12 o’clock Mass and has over 29 members, five who have been with the choir since its beginning. I am sure his lovely wife Eileen; the very talented singer is one of the five original members.

I hope that the new pastor of our parish realizes what a treasure the Schmitts are to our parish. In a world where so many of us are so busy it is truly a pleasure to walk into church, a parish function, or a school event and listen to music brought to us by people who are so talented and dedicated is truly a gift.

Have a good week everyone. Let me know what community members are a staple to you and make you feel content. Email me at betfh81772@aol.com.

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