OLG bench a tribute to a man of faith

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Something special was added at Our Lady of Grace Church while some two dozen volunteers were performing different duties in preparation for the Roman Catholic parish’s recent and highly successful 89th Feast and Festival.

“Okay, everyone outside,” commanded Rev. Peter J. Gower. “C’mon now … I need all of you people to join me …”

One-by-one, men and women made their way outside the kitchen door and almost instantly the sounds of ooh’s and aah’s were in the air and all those folks suddenly had smiles on their races.

What Father Gower did, amid many of Joseph Quartino’s fellow parishioners, was unveil a bench he had made especially for the popular Our Lady of Grace cook, custodian and man for all reasons and seasons in honor of his 70th birthday.

“What would we do without this man, a jack of all trades who cares so much about this parish,” said Father Gower as he asked Quartino to sit in the bench. “After we leave the building, our faithful custodian will still be there.”

Gower’s statement was followed by several people who offered: “It seems as if Joe Q as he is affectionately known in our OLG community and is always here; what a tremendous show of appreciation for a wonderful man who does so much for so many people.”

Father Gower continued: “Joe Q is the first to come and the last to go, the one who turns the lights on and off, the one who does the cleaning that most of us don’t want to do, the one who fixes dripping pipes and restocks supplies, the one who works in the boiler room when the dang thing won’t work, who graciously receives all our complaints with the patience of Job.”

After surprising Quartino with the surprise bench – the popular OLG pastor added: “There is something holy in that work, don’t you think? There’s something in all those tasks that seem so mundane that echoes the divine a bit. Think about it; the first to show up and the last to leave. The one who cleans up messes, the one who hears all the complaints with an expansive heart, the one who makes sure our spaces are safe and warm and welcoming with the most pragmatic of things.”

Father Gower, who paid for the bench himself and even affixed a gold plaque to the two-seater, concluded: “Sometimes I wonder if when Jesus comes back, he won’t seek out all the custodians first. If you’re so moved, if you see him sitting on ‘His Bench’ outside Fioretti Hall, say thank you — it’s a holy thing to do for someone who does holy work.”

As Father Gower said earlier this week — while announcing that Quartino’s 70th birthday was yesterday — “Thanks Joe Q for all you do and happy birthday, too!”

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