Figuring out what you want to do in life is never an easy thing.
As early as middle school, guidance counselors asked my classmates and me what we would like to do when we grew up. I never had an answer. I never leaned in any direction for a career. I still don’t know! Does that sound surprising?
Some are lucky enough to grow up in a family that has an established business, like the Agolinos. Joe Agolino, the current owner of Agolino’s Restaurant, grew up in the business when his father got started at the then-tiny place in West Pittston. When it was Joe’s turn to run the business, he expanded upon it and it grew. Now, the next generation of Agolino children are slowly taking the baton and putting their mark on things.
My dad worked hard and didn’t have the means to attend college, so he migrated from job-to-job before he landed a government job at Tobyhanna where he stayed nearly 30 years. Eventually he took a disability retirement when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in his early 50s.
My mother had to quit school at an early age due to the death of her father. Her mother, a widow with four children, didn’t speak English very well.
My older brother joined the service and left for boot camp a few days after the Agnes flood hit in 1972. For the longest time, I thought I’d follow in his footsteps. He signed up for a four-year stint and at the completion of his tour, he got out. When I realized he wasn’t happy with Army life, I decided I didn’t want to go down that avenue.
There are plenty of careers I could have, and perhaps should have, chosen, but this is where I’m at. I always admired people who know what they want to do for a career. It always amazed me when I would hear someone in their teens knew exactly what they were going to do for a living.
One person who knew what he wanted to do for a career at a young age was Fr. Paul McDonnell. As the story goes, Fr. Paul grew up across the street from St. Anthony of Padua Church in Exeter. His parents were very involved with church, and as a result all the children would be as well.
Fr. Paul admits he was extremely young when he had his calling from God to serve the Lord. When most kids were playing Army or with dolls, Fr. Paul built an altar in his basement and played church.
I’ve heard we are all products of our environment. It’s true for the Agolino family and for Fr. Paul. He knew church, he knew the priests of the parish and he knew that’s exactly what he wanted to do with his life – and at a very early age.
Fr. Paul celebrated his 25th year as an ordained priest on Aug. 10. A huge celebration took place Aug. 7 in the very church that influenced his decision to serve God.
His career in the priesthood is remarkable and it’s taken him all over the world. He even met Pope John Paul II early into his service.
He is so loved by many in our area and he knew he had to celebrate his ordination in his home church. His family, colleagues, friends and many former parishioners attended the celebration Mass and reception afterwards.
Even with a bad back, Fr. Paul spoke to everyone after Mass and during the reception. It was clear to see this padre is a rock star in his field and I don’t know anyone more deserving of this kind of celebration.
He is currently provincial superior of the Holy Spouses Province (USA) of the Oblates of St. Joseph, serving his second term while residing at the provincial headquarters in Santa Cruz, Calif.
Even though he lives 3,000 miles away, he’ll always make time for a phone call, text message or Facebook post to connect with those in Greater Pittston. This will always and forever be his home.
Dr. Jen’s Hope
The fourth annual Dr. Jen’s Hope Memorial Ride & Block Party in honor of the late Dr. Jennifer Sidari will begin at noon Sunday at Cooper’s Seafood Waterfront and Cabana Tiki Bar, Pittston.
If you can’t do the 50-mile motorcycle ride, you can support the cause by showing up and purchasing raffle tickets. The raffle baskets and items are plentiful and worth the trip to Cooper’s.
Quote of the week
“Tolerance is giving to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself.” – Robert Green Ingersoll, American statesman.
Thought of the week
“Success is achieved by developing our strengths, not by eliminating our weaknesses.” – Marilyn vos Savant, American columnist.
“Children are our most valuable resource.” – Herbert Hoover, American president.
Tony Callaio’s column My Corner, Your Corner runs weekly in the Sunday Dispatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.