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.”
Wednesday, 20 August 2014 00:00
Nassau County drivers are up in arms due to the recent implementation of school zone speed cameras, which have issued numerous violations since they were installed just weeks ago. The source of residents beef with the county’s speed cameras stems from the cameras issuing speed violations even when school wasn’t in session.
Director of Nassau County Traffic Safety Chris Mistron said that while some residents were taken by surprise, summer school hours are still considered a violation period.
Saturday, 16 August 2014 00:00
One local mom was concerned about her shy daughter’s first acting class at the newly opened Neighborhood Entertainment Arts and Theatre (NEAT) at 166 Center Lane in Levittown; but after her daughter’s lesson with Theatre Director Watson Miller, she was surprised to hear her daughter broke out of her shell, singing not one, but two songs for the class.
“My husband has a very special gift with kids,” Koula Miller said. “He brings out the best in them.”
Thursday, 14 August 2014 00:00
Golfer Annie Park, 19, of Levittown came close at the U.S. Women’s Amateur tourney, but missed the cut, finishing at 149, 9 strokes over par and just one stroke away from the match-play cut-off.
“I couldn’t make any putts, so then I had more pressure into my shots to get it closer,” Park said, “but obviously that’s not going to work.”
Thursday, 07 August 2014 00:00
It might not be what you think of as a traditional sport, but at Eisenhower Park people are doing flips in the air and dangling from harnesses, training at I.FLY, a recreational flying trapeze and circus arts program.
Anna Marie Cagnazzi is a fairly new convert. “I love the freedom that I feel and the sense of accomplishment that I get,” Cagnazzi said. “Everyone always cheers, and I feel so good about myself. You don’t get to feel that in your everyday life.”
Over a year ago the 30-year-old Bethpage resident had no idea that a regular person could trapeze recreationally. Then a co-worker suggested they try a I.FLY class together.