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.”
Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
On Feb. 27, parents in the Levittown, East Meadow, Massapequa and Farmingdale school districts came together for an informal panel discussion on the New York State Education Department and the implementation of the state Common Core Learning Standards.
Panelists included New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, Jeanette Deutermann of the Long Island Opt Out Facebook page, and former public school teacher David Greene, who came to the Farmingdale Public Library to talk with local parents about key concerns and questions with the curriculum.
An outspoken parent and founder of the Long Island Opt Out movement, Deutermann, delved into some of the factors behind what led to the state’s adoption of the Common Core, and how the state education department cites high school graduation rates as its reasoning behind the curriculum.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
Members of the Island Trees School District Board of Education are currently mulling a proposed $59.6 million spending plan for the 2014-2015 school year, which would increase the district’s spending by .82 percent from last year. According to Island Trees
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Charles Murphy, the tax levy for the 2014-2015 year is also estimated to increase by .82 percent, which he boasted falls well below the 2 percent tax levy threshold mandated by the state.
At the first of an ongoing series of budget workshops, on Feb. 26, board members highlighted sections of the proposed 2014-2015 budget, including the Island Trees Public Library, Arts and Music programming, Curriculum and Instruction and Supplies, to try and find any savings.
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
The Island Trees track program is pleased to announce that four members of the team will be participating in the New York State tournament. Students honored include:
Alexa Dolgos with a personal best of 1.37 in the 600 meter run; Alyssa Mustafa with a personal best of 17 feet, 3.5 inches in the long jump and a personal best of 36 minutes 1.3 seconds in the triple jump competition; Andrew Zabala with a personal best of 43 feet 5 inches in the triple jump; and Joe Stanco with 47 minutes 10.5 seconds in the shot put.
— Submitted by Varsity Track Coach Joseph Manna
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00
The Island Trees Bulldogs Wrestling team finished the 2013-2014 season with an overall record of 18-8. The team defeated Syosset in the Dual Meet Championship playoffs 34-27, and then lost to Plainedge in the second round 48-29. The team had a strong season and was ranked no. 8 in Nassau County. The Bulldogs entered 22 wrestlers in the Nassau County Qualifying Tournament, out of which, eleven of the team’s All-League grapplers qualified for the coveted Nassau County Wrestling Tournament. Six wrestlers also received All-Conference honors, with one wrestler earning a wildcard into the tournament, for a total of 12 Island Trees wrestlers competing.