By Mr. Jaimee Versace, St. John Bosco Parish Council President
(Port Chester, NY – November 21) – “Trust all things to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary Help of Christians, and you will see what miracles are.” These words of Don Bosco articulate the journey of our young parish, born in 2017 out of four diverse parish communities. St. John Bosco is home to English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Polish-speaking members, each of whom contributes their unique heritage and religious devotions, revealing in a short time what is possible when God is first.
Challenged to merge people of different cultures, histories, and practices, parish leaders focused not only on finances but on evangelization and formation. We would never be a people united unless we’re united in our relationship with Christ and in answering our call to discipleship. It was a time to put aside our differences and share our gifts. Each cultural community and parish group was needed to make our new reality work and grow.
Within two years, our parish saw record numbers for Bible study, religious education enrollment, youth ministry, and participation at the parish carnival. Like all parishes, we suffered setbacks with the pandemic, including the loss of several beloved religious. In darkness and grief, we were not deterred. We continued to put our trust in our Lady and placed special emphasis on prayer and Eucharistic adoration. And our Lord did not disappoint.
In the past year, we’ve seen our parish recover with increasing numbers in formation attendance, RCIA candidates receiving sacraments at Easter Vigil, meals distributed at Don Bosco Community Center, and a countless turnout for the Way of the Cross on Good Friday. We are blessed with thirty-plus parish groups dedicated to feast day processions, novenas, evangelization, the pro-life movement, drama club, youth sports and teen center, community outreach, YouTube channel, and more. Much of our activity is rooted in the traditions of our cultural communities. These include multi-cultural day, the Brazilian community’s Festa Junina, our Polish school, the Advent Mañanitas, Italian heritage Mass, and our oldest organization running for over 100 years, Seton Circle. While embracing tradition, our greatest blessing is our willingness to be open and to serve those in need who show up at the door. The original four Catholic parishes of Port Chester were built by faithful immigrants, and we continue in that same spirit of welcoming those in search of the American dream.
This year with Eucharistic Revival, leaders have come together to plan a series of events to help our parish grow deeper in devotion and purpose. We are no more four different parish communities forced into one space, but one parish ready to share what we have to enrich each other’s faith and hope. We continue to have our struggles, and we don’t always get along, but we know who we are, and our love for this beautiful parish is the living miracle we wish to pass on to our children.