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Father Clerkin To Leave St. Paul’s

If you ask Msgr. Robert Clerkin, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Church where his parish is, the answer won’t be simple.

 

His assignment papers when he came here in 2002 read “St. Paul the Apostle Church, Brookville.” Yet the church sits on Route 107 right near the high school, middle school and administration building for the Jericho School District, and across Route 107 from the State University of New York at Old Westbury.

 

In the parish’s original incorporation papers, the parish was known as “St. Paul’s, Jericho.” Yet the parish has a Glen Head postal address.

 

“Our parish encompasses all of Jericho, stretches south into Hicksville, west in Brookville and Old Westbury, and north into Glen Head and Muttontown.”

 

So when he became pastor here, Msgr. Clerkin faced the question: “How do you create community in a parish that is so diverse economically, social, geographically, and in its own perception of itself?”

 

The answer, he found, from his dealing with the 1,200 families of the parish, however, is simple — Mass.

 

“We are most together when we celebrate the Eucharist,” Msgr. Clerkin said

 

“We look beyond our differences when we come together in common discipleship as the body of Christ.”

 

Msgr. Clerkin has tried to foster that identity in his tenure at St. Paul’s. Now, he will be leaving as pastor this week to become pastor of SS. Cyril and Methodius Church in Deer Park. Succeeding Msgr. Clerkin as pastor will be Msgr. James Pereda, judicial vicar for the diocesan Tribunal, an ecclesial court. Msgr. Pereda continues to serve as judicial vicar in addition to assuming the duties of pastor at St. Paul’s.

 

Msgr. Clerkin grew up in Port Washington at St. Peter of Alacantara Church. “I don’t ever remember not wanting to be a priest,” Msgr. Clerkin said, being drawn to the Mass as an altar server and admiring the priest in his parish.

 

He attended Siena College, Albany, which is run by the Franciscans, a religious order founded by St. Francis of Assisi. “I was drawn by Franciscan spirituality and Franciscan ministry,” Msgr. Clerkin said, which puts a priority on reaching out to the poor and marginalized. So, he joined the order

 

“That influences me even through today. In my ministry as a priest I try to offer some sign of hope or God’s love to someone who is suffering or going through difficulties.”

 

Eventually, he decided that his vocation was that of a parish priest. So he returned to Long Island, enrolling in Immaculate Conception Seminary, Huntington, to study to be a priest for the Rockville Centre Diocese .

 

Ordained in 1980, he served as associate pastor at St. Hugh of Lincoln, Huntington Station, Holy Name of Mary, Valley Stream, St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, and St. Joseph’s Garden City. In 1997, he was assigned his first pastorate at St. Francis de Sales Church, Patchogue.

 

“I’ve been blessed with all my experiences as a priest,” Msgr. Clerkin said.

 

As the pastor of St. Paul’s, a small parish by Long Island standards, Msgr. Clerkin said, “I have been able to focus on young families,” which he said is vital today.

 

“It’s not just the kids we need to reach but the whole family,” Msgr. Clerkin said. “The kids are often the way that we can engage the family.

 

“We have a parish pre-school, which has been a wonderful way of establishing contact with parents,” he said. “When you listen to people you get to know them and hear them talk about their problems,” whether it’s an illness, marital difficulties, or issues with aging parents. “You try to help them connect with their faith in light of their difficulties.”

 

His one concern, Msgr. Clerkin said, is that many families identify with their faith but not actively practice it their weekly Mass attendance.

 

“I’m particularly concerned about the young people who are not engaged the way their parents or grandparents were,” Msgr. Clerkin said, but that is not a problem limited to the Catholic Church. “We just have to keep trying.”

 

A priest in a parish develops relationships which are precious, Msgr. Clerkin said. As he prepares to move on to his next parish, Msgr. Clerkin thinks about those he is leaving.

 

“I realize that we have grown to appreciate each other and I will mourn for the regular contact with my parishioners, but that is part of the priesthood,” Msgr. Clerkin said. “You are like a missionary, and I’m looking forward to a new parish.

 

“I know that I have tried to bring people closer to God,” Msgr. Clerkin said, “but whatever I have been able to do for my parishioners here, I have received so much more.”


News

The Glen Cove Board of Education passed the Alternative Veterans’ Exemption for taxes following last week’s public hearing at Robert M. Finley Middle School, to the appreciation of the veterans in attendance.

 

Several dozen vets arrived promptly at 6 p.m. at the middle school to express their support for the tax exemption. Many noted that they get tax breaks from the city and county, but are still left with the ever-growing school tax bill.

 

“We’re having a hard time with our taxes, especially the school tax,” said the first veteran to speak.

This year marks the 35th anniversary of The Sea Cliff Village Museum. Founded in 1979, the museum serves as a place to preserve and publicly display historical items of  past Sea Cliff residents. The museum displays both temporary and permanent collections from the 18th through 20th centuries. Most of the items and artifacts in the museum have been donated by residents of Sea Cliff who want to share them with the rest of the North Shore community. 


Sports

The Glen Cove Junior Lacrosse Club kicked off their 20th season with the third- and fourth-grade boys winning their home opener against Deer Park on a moist and muddy Sunday morning.  

Despite the weather forecast, the boys were determined to play after spending the last three months practicing indoors. It was a hard fought battle with the lead changing several times, but at the end Glen Cove managed to hold on for a 6 – 5 victory.  

Anchoring the victory was goalie Tyler Shea, who stopped several point blank one-on-ones and recorded 13 saves in the game. The offense started slow, but began clicking as the game went on. Providing the firepower was Ryan Houghton with two goals and Micah Stone, Eamon Doyle, Andrew Epifania and Lukasz Dubicki, each adding one.  Epifania and Andrew Bisch each had an assist in the winning effort.

Glen Cove High School hosted the PTSA-sponsored Red vs. Green Games last month, an evening of traditional and non-traditional sporting activities in which students and adults represented their schools of past and present allegiance by donning either red- or green-colored attire. Students of all ages came to their schools the day of the event wearing either red or green. Gribbin and Connolly elementary schools are traditional green schools while Deasy and Landing are red schools. 


Calendar

Kiddie Egg Hunt - April 11

Offbeat Artifacts Sale - April 12 

Glen Cove Eggstravaganza - April 16


Columns

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Sustainable LI: Getting Good Things Done
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LI’s ‘Most Prominent Lady In Politics’
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