Written by Youseph Rasheed Friday, 07 February 2014 00:00
“I don’t have a job. I have a life.” These are the words of Father Ralph Sommer, 57, who has dedicated his rich and inspirational life as a Priest to making his community a better one.
Sommer was born in Flushing Hospital and lived in Valley Stream up until he was eight years old. Afterwards his parents and three younger siblings moved to Garden City where he spent most of his life growing up.
“My parents encouraged us to be creative. They always wanted us to be doing something. Sure we had a TV but my parents preferred us to be active. My family would put on puppet shows and we even had a little family newspaper we would put together by getting news from the neighborhood. My entire family was in the parish choir. It made road trips exciting because we could always sing songs in harmony,” Sommer said with a chuckle.
Sommer attended St. Pius X in Uniondale. “It was a Catholic High School for boys who were considering a vocation for the priesthood,” he explained. “My uncle Ralph Besendorfer was a priest for the Brooklyn Diocese. He was my inspiration. The folks loved him. He used to come out to St. Bernard’s to help once in a while and some of the parishioners still remember him. I used to look at my uncle and tell myself that I could be like that.”
After high school Sommer went on to study at Adelphi where he became the editor of the university’s newspaper.
After graduating in May of 1978 with a degree in psychology, he immediately enrolled at The Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington in the fall of 1978. Upon his graduation in May of 1983 he was ordained a priest. “Ever since I was little I knew this is what I wanted to do,” said Sommer. “I never looked back. This was the right thing for me and I never regretted it.”
“My first parish was at Our Holy Redeemer in Freeport where I spent five and a half years,” explained Sommer. “After that I was sent to St. Thomas More Parish in Hauppauge where I served two six-year terms. I then became a pastor at St. Brigid’s in Westbury where I spent another 12 years.”
St. Bernard’s welcomed Sommer as a pastor in June of 2013. During a convocation at St. Bernard’s on Saturday, Jan. 24, churchgoers democratically decided that instilling the Catholic faith into the next generation should be their number one priority. Sommer said
“I agree with the notion and I also have my own personal goal to help the current generation of adults deepen their relationship with the church. My theory is if the current generation doesn’t grow in their faith then how could they pass it on to the next generation?”
Reflecting on his new gig as pastor of St. Bernard’s in Levittown, Sommer said “I really feel at home here. The unique thing about Levittown is that it was built all at once while other towns were built little by little. A lot of memories go back to the very founding of this town. There is a real sense of loyalty and community in Levittown. I am really happy to be here. Every morning when I wake up, I just smile.”
Saturday, 26 July 2014 00:00
A clown named Renaldo performed magic tricks for an enthusiastic audience as part of the National Circus Project, which visited Levittown Public Library on Wednesday, July 16.
All 150 tickets available for the performance were sold out in this interactive magic show for children. Throughout the entire circus act, children laughed and raised their hands as high as they could to be chosen as one of Renaldo’s helpers.
Raising her hand to participate was three-year-old Kirsten Cantwell from Seaford. “She was upset that she didn’t get picked,” said her mother Melissa Cantwell.
Kirsten Cantwell goes to any activity offered at the library, and is starting to enjoy watching magic shows. According to her mother, she really enjoyed the performance.
In the circus show, National Circus Project performer, Al Calienes, acted as Renaldo the clown.
“The show has different components of acts in the circus,” explained Calienes. “We teach children circus moves.”
With the National Circus Project, children get to see magic tricks performed live. “We infuse enthusiasm by showing them, and they in turn will be able to repeat the process,” said Calienes.
Renaldo performed plate spinning, where he spun a plate on a stick and passed it along to the stick of one of his helpers from the audience, who then passed the plate down a line of three more helpers. This interactive way of teaching the children magic tricks really allows them to absorb what they are learning.
The National Circus Project travels and performs for elementary schools, as well as middle and high schools. When the National Circus Project is not going to schools, they perform at library shows, summer camps, and other types of events.
The performance entertains the adults as well as the children. “We involve everybody,” said Calienes. “Everybody’s engaged on some level or another. “
At every library performance, Calienes donates the children’s book he wrote and illustrated Renaldo Joins the Circus to the library. He feels that he owes a lot to the library system. “Anything that ever meant anything to me I learned in the library,” said Calienes.
Calienes learned how to draw from the library, which is how he became a commercial artist. One of the main characters he would always draw would be Renaldo the clown. “I wanted to make him real so I joined the circus,” he said.
Calienes has been performing with the National Circus Project for seven years and has been in the circus business going on 26 years.
The National Circus Project brings magic to children at any school, camp or library all over Long Island as well as across the country.
Friday, 25 July 2014 00:00
Last June, Nassau County passed legislation that allows for the deployment of a speed enforcement camera system in school zones for each of the 56 public school districts in the county.
The new systems will be implemented throughout the county on July 25, and will be operational on scheduled school days throughout the year.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Levittown’s Division Avenue High School varsity baseball team, under the direction of coach Tom Tuttle, won the Class A County Championship, garnering a third-place ranking in New York State. This is the team’s 13th county championship win and the second county championship for the school in the past four years.
In addition, senior Chris Reilly was named Championship MVP for throwing a complete game shutout in game two and going three for four with two RBIs.
Thursday, 24 July 2014 00:00
Taylor Traenkle, a junior at Division Avenue High School recently received the MVP award for the Nassau County Varsity Hockey League Association.
Traenkle, who plays no. 9 for the Levittown Ice Falcons, led the way averaging 2.8 points a game with a total of 25 goals and 23 assists in just 17 games.