Dear Parishioners,
One of the greatest gifts my mom and dad ever gave to me was the gift of a Roman Catholic education. My formal education began at St. Patrick School, Smithtown, NY. The school was staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, NY. They were excellent educators and certainly left an impression on my young mind. Sister Patricia Ann Kenny was my 1st grade teacher who taught us to love Jesus and His Blessed Mother. On the lighter side, she also taught us all about leprechauns! Her love of all things Irish left an impression on this Italian American! Sister Charlotte Maria taught me in 2nd grade and instilled in my class how important Jesus’ presence in Blessed Sacrament is. She also explained why the statue of St. Joseph in our parish church was holding a jug in his hand. She said we should all put our troubles and problems in his jug, and he would bring them to his foster son, Jesus. I think I put more problems in there than anyone else in my class! Sister Mary Edith taught Social Studies in the 7th and 8th grade. She kept order in her class and made the world come alive for us. How wonderful that all three religious sisters were at my first Mass years later. Mrs. DeGraw taught 7th and 8th grade English. To this day I know how to diagram a sentence! Monthly classes taught by our parish priests and 1st Friday Masses enriched my faith life and experience of worship.

This great foundation was laid over an eight-year period. The sisters and the lay teachers I had all made an impact on my early years. The weaving of the faith into all subjects was a blessing and made us think of God and how we fit into the world. My education not only prepared me for St. Anthony’s High School, South Huntington, NY but also for life. Without my faith, my life would be adrift in a secular world. Being taught that God has a plan for all of us gave me hope when I did not know what career I would choose in college. My elementary education and high school education was a sacrifice my parents made for my siblings and me. My parents believed it was money not spent but invested in the education of the whole person. I could not agree more.

Since my ordination in 2013, I made it a point to visit the parish school and teach the 8th grade in every assignment. This experience has made me a better priest and I pray to encourage a vocation or two. A priestly presence is vital for a Catholic school. To teach is to touch the future and encourage participation in the faith life of the Church. I have been greatly blessed to teach the past nine years (soon to be 10) and be a part of the future. It is my hope and dream that Catholic education continues to thrive in the Diocese of Paterson, and I am proud to be a small part of it.

We are so very fortunate to have a school attached to our parish. Over the past 60 years, thousands of children have received a sterling education at St. Philip’s Prep. Our school is rooted in our Roman Catholic faith and has Jesus Christ as the perfect teacher. The Caldwell Dominican Sisters founded the school and later the school was served by the Franciscan Sisters; now with a full lay staff with Danielle Gonzales as principal, our school is leading and preparing our students for the world. Not only do our students learn about their faith but put it into action by service projects and community service. So many of our graduates continue to Catholic high schools and STEM academies. Without the firm foundation they receive at SPP, they would not be where they are today. If you are interested in sending your child to SPP, please contact the school directly and make an appointment for a tour.

Fr. Monteleone

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