It started in 1960, at the age of 10, when I left Sicily to be reunited with my mother and father who had left me in the care of my older sister a year and a half earlier. My parents were living in Manhattan trying to make a better life for their children. I was the youngest of six children and I will never forget the day my sister and I boarded the S.S. Saturnia to cross the Atlantic and come to America. My sister was only two years older than I me and we traveled alone, not knowing the language, frightened and alone. It was the stormy month of November and the trip would last 10 long days. To be reunited with my mother was the happiest day of my life. That happiness in New York City was short lived because my mother who was ill as long as I can remember, passed away just a few short years after my arrival (a day I will never forget).
It was then decided that perhaps I should move out to Long Island and live with one of my sisters. My father, at this point, had decided to go back to Italy and start his life over. Being a teenager is difficult enough under the best of circumstances but my life was being turned upside down and I began to question how a loving God could allow these painful experiences and do nothing to help me.
At the age of 14, I moved to East Patchogue with my sister. She lived next door to a church called the Christian Assembly. I wouldn’t call myself religious as a young boy but I know that I had a tender heart, a tender heart that was hurting. At a time when I was feeling lost and lonely, a friend in the neighborhood invited me to this church and introduced me to Jesus. He told me that it was not about religion but a relationship. What I needed at that point in my life was hope, a hope that things would get better in my life. The day I stepped over the line and said yes to Jesus was the day my life changed forever.
At the age of 17 I went to a youth camp and it is there that I felt the call of God to enter ministry. The following year I entered a Bible College in Rhode Island. I did not finish school there but came back home and attended a community college. It was then that I met my wife, Dottie. We married in November, 1972.
For many years I was involved in the ministry of this church. First I was a youth leader, then assistant pastor, and interim pastor. After 35 years I was connected to ICF, a cell based ministry connected with Smithtown Tabernacle. It was during this time that I developed a love for home groups and missions. Then in the summer of 2001 I would consider coming back to the Christian Assembly, now known as The Journey.
Life is truly a journey. I have come full circle by pastoring the same church where at the age of 14 I first had an experience with Christ. I have discovered that what I needed as a little boy is what people need today regardless of background. We all need hope, purpose, and lots of grace.
The Journey is a ministry that is based on grace, something that none of us deserve but we all need. Wherever you find yourself in your journey, you are welcome to join us here at The Journey.