On a comfortable July day, more than 30 Alumni of St Albert’s Junior Seminary in Middletown, NY gathered to renew old friendships and share memories of their time at St. Albert’s. The day featured two great events – the Alumni Softball Game and the Alumni Mass in St Albert’s chapel. Other highlights of the day included: the blessing of the Rev. Albert Daly, O. Carm. memorial barn, the awarding of the “Commissioner’s Trophy for Excellence on the Softball Field” and the consuming of the culinary delights delicately prepared by Patrick McGuigan, O. Carm. and Michael Kissane, O. Carm. (1976). The following article will give you a brief summation of the day and entice your interest in next year’s Alumni Picnic.
The Alumni began arriving at 12:30 pm even though the picnic was scheduled to begin at 12:00 noon! Of course, this type of tardiness would never have been tolerated in the “old days”. One of the first arrivals was Bruce Giarraffa (class of 1973) who had not been seen by his classmate Mike Stec in quite some time. In fact, Bruce shared stories of the days when Mike shared a room with him at St Albert’s. Some things will remain unprinted to protect the reputations of those involved. To the left Mike Stec is pictured with Albert Pavlik, O. Carm. and the famous “Commissioner’s Trophy” that was awarded later in the day.
Soon the rest of the Alumni arrived with their families and friends. Many of the Alumni of St Albert’s showed some “wear and tear” but all in all most were in good shape. The burgers were thrown on the grill and the other refreshments began flowing. The party began! In total, more than 70 people showed up and a good time was had by all. Some recognizables who were present included Michael Brennan (1964), John Cummins (OCCC Teacher and former Carmelite), and Brendan Talty (1973) all pictured to the right. Sr Mary Claire who worked on many a Camp Carmel was also present.
Carmelites Well Represented
Many present day Carmelites showed up for the day. Albert Pavlik, O. Carm., the former long-suffering Athletic Director/Coach of St Albert’s was eagerly waiting to see if some of his former softball players would finally be able to redeem themselves and put on at least a credible performance on the field. Alfred Isaccson, O. Carm., principal of St Albert’s from 1973-1976 came to see if John Raftery (class of 1976) would finally fess up to stealing the bug juice after crawling from the boiler room to the kitchen storage room back in 1977. Robert Greco, O. Carm. came by to see if some of his former classmates showed up. He did find Joe Nash, class of 1949 present who was around his time. Joe was the oldest alumnus present! Francis Dixon, O. Carm., at St Albert’s graduate who later taught history at St Albert’s in 1976-78 was able to meet some of his former students: Joe Hourihan (1978) and Chris Espejo (1978). He was also happy to see Fred Schwartz (1974) pictured to the right. Patrick McGuigan, O. Carm. was happy to see Bernie Flaherty (1971) and Bob Linderman (1970). Michael Kissane, O. Carm. (1976) and Eugene Foley, O. Carm. (1976) were glad to see their classmates Tim Weiler (1976), Kevin Dwyer (1976) and John Raftery (1976). Many other Carmelites came by to say hello. They included: Chris Byrnes, O. Carm., Gus Graap, O. Carm., Roberto Perez, O. Carm., Esteban Rodriguez, O. Carm., and James Andrews, O. Carm.
Some of the present Carmelite Students showed up for the festive event also. They included: Emil Abalahin, Joseph Hung, Stephan Huy, Stephan Tu, Francis Xavier Thuong, Jospeh Phuong, Joseph Son, and John Baptist. While the Alumni played softball, the students all played soccer. One alumnus, who shall remain nameless commented: “That looks like too much running!”.
Let the Games Begin!
Around 2:30pm, after an unbelievable amount of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausage, beans, corn, potatoes and chips had been consumed, the duly appointed Commissioner of Softball for many a Camp Carmels (Mike Stec from the class of 1973) announced that the game would begin in ten minutes. Those Alumni of able body began to prepare themselves by loading up on the BenGay, wrapping their ankles and grabbing one last soda or beer before the game. Some Alumni simply made excuses as to why they would not be able to participate this year. Notable excusers included: Eugene Foley, O. Carm (1976),pictured to the right with Joe Hourihan (1978), who pitched many a softball game in his heyday; Bernie Flaherty (1971) who claimed he was still sore from the last game and Bob Linderman (1970) who glanced at the age of those participating and decided it would be better for him to “sit this one out”. It is hoped that next year some of these “excusers” will get up the courage to partake of the softball activities and embarrass themselves like their classmates. John Raftery (1976) and Kevin Dwyer (1976) (pictured to the left) did play and put on a credible performance.
Captains were soon chosen. Mike Stec was immediately asked to be one captain since he provided the trophy that was created by Mike Elsasser (1973) who did not attend. Plus, it was felt by the Provincial Mike Kissane (1976) who duly appointed him softball commissioner for this reunion that Mike Stec would simply pick up his bats and go home if he weren’t chosen as a captain. Very quickly during warm-ups it became apparent that Juan Medina (1974) was still a force to be reckoned with on the field so he was chosen as the other captain. To the right is a picture of some of the players on Juan’s team (Chris Espejo’s son at third base, Tim Weiler at left field, Kevin Dwyer in Center and Fred Schwartz in right with Juan pitching. Please note the two LARGE trees that Kevin Dwyer and Mike Kissane had to handle in the outfield.
Sides were quickly chosen. Surprisingly, Joe Hourihan (1978) was not the last to be chosen as was the case back when he was in High School. From the onset it seemed that the “Mighty Medinas” were well in shape and doubts soon arose as to whether “Strong Steckers” would be able to overcome the challenge and Mike would be able to walk home with the coveted trophy once again. To the left is Mike Stec, Charles McKane (1977) and his wife.
The Steckers got first licks. Chris Espejo (1978) led off. With cigar in his mouth he blasted the ball into the outfield and became the first alumnus to reach base. Chris looked a little winded when he arrived at first but it was apparent that his skills at bat had improved since his high school days. The catcher pictured with Chris Espejo at bat when he blasted the ball is Juan Medina’s daughter. She became the official, self-appointed “referee” of the game. The only problem she had was that she did not realize that St Albert’s Alumni never followed any rules! Juan’s daughter, who mentioned she was on the “traveling team” in her league was quite a player and referee and it was clear to all that Juan’s skill was being passed on to the next generation.
Mike Kissane, O. Carm., the Prior Provincial batted second. After “whiffing” the ball once he quickly re-gained his composure and hit the ball into the outfield for a single. Mike Kissane, O. Carm. would end the day with a 1000 batting average, and would receive the “best bat” award for the day. He got to base all three times he was up with clear drives to the outfield. Never a power hitter, he always seemed to get on base, even in the old days. Mike did make two errors in the outfield. One obvious one was when he misjudged a hit by Juan Medina and the ball went sailing over his head in the outfield. The other was not his fault since there was interference by the tree in center field. Mike did make two sensational catches in center field and quickly was mentioned as a possible for the best player of the day award.
The Medina-Medina duo as pitcher and catcher soon proved to be a tough pair of players. It was clear to all present that Juan’s daughter was quite the player and even out-staged her father. The comment was made; “Who is the captain, you or your daughter!”. Juan Medina (1974) hit the ball well. His pitching kept all the batters on the “Strong Steckers” swinging at air. Juan’s daughter kept the count and made sure all followed the rules. Both got on base frequently and played well on offense and defense. Juan, pictured to the right with his daughter encouraged his teammates to fight hard for the “Commissioner’s Trophy” which he so much desired to bring home with him and properly display in his living room. Because of their valiant efforts, the judges decided to name the Medinas the “Players of the Game”.
Of course, the question of the day was who would get to take home the coveted “Commissioner’s Trophy” – Juan Medina on behalf of his team or Mike Stec on behalf of his. There is no question that both wanted the coveted trophy (pictured to the left with Joe Nash (1949) in the background). After all, who would not want this beautiful piece of artwork depicting the Commissioner himself on the shelf above their fireplace in their living room. The judges gathered after the game and counted the runs that were batted in. They reviewed the sometimes pathetic performances of the players and had no other choice than to award the coveted trophy to the “Mighty Medinas” . After all, they scored more runs and clearly outperformed the “Strong Steckers”. Rumors began to fly that perhaps Mike Stec’s coaching ability has gone the way his playing went. After all, it was evident to all that Mike Stec’s son outperformed him on the field. At the end of the day Juan Medina’s wife was overheard saying “You’re not putting that thing in our living room!” and that was that! Mike Stec would once again get to take home his coveted trophy until next year.
After the game the players and their families began to prepare for Mass in St Albert’s Chapel. For some, it had been years since they stepped foot in the chapel. As the Alumni entered the chapel, many were struck with memories of the old days and the hours spent in that chapel – morning prayer at 7:15, Angelus at noon, Mass at 4:00pm after a quick shower and evening prayer after dinner. Fr Albert Pavlik, O. Carm. was the celebrant with Deacon Tom Connolly assisting. Albert Pavlik, O. Carm. delivered an inspiring homily in which he mentioned the importance of friendships and the need to remain faithful to the gospel. He also mentioned some of the frustrations he had as “Coach” during his years at St Albert’s. He stated that some of his umpires could not keep balls and strikes straight and did not even know how many balls and strikes a person got when they were at bat. Albert did not mention the persons by name, but rumors were flying that the culprit may have been one of the people sitting to the left.
Tim Weiler played the guitar for the mass and Fred Schwartz led all in the singing of the songs. Fred is an experienced music director having spent many years directing the students at St. Albert’s in music. You may recall that Fred had many roles at St Albert’s. He was the dispenser of jake acid, the “janitor in the drum” and the manager of the supply closet off the gym having inherited this job from Ken Murphy (1971 RIP). The songs chosen were all from the old days and all sang with the same amount of gusto as they did when they were students.
Thanks to Fr Albert for providing a special Mass and for the work he did in preparing his homily. All who were present left the chapel with a nostalgic feeling that will remain with them for years.
The Blessing and Dedication of the Restored Barn
Immediately after Mass, all processed over to the Red Barn across the street. Michael Kissane had announced that the Barn would be re-dedicated after being restored this past year in memory of Fr Albert Daly, O. Carm. who died April 14, 2004. Fr Albert, who was headmaster of St Albert’s for many years and lived in retirement there before he died always mentioned that the Barn was the only thing on the property that was older than he was. During his retirement years, he dreamed of the day he would see the barn restored and would be able to park his car inside. By the time the barn was restored Albert no longer drove. However, he was able to see the barn restored and knew that plans were under way to dedicate the barn in his memory. Many of the Alumni who were present had fond memories of Fr Albert and were happy to see the barn dedicated in his memory.
Tom Connolly as deacon and Albert Pavlik, O. Carm. did the official blessing of the barn after Michael Kissane, O. Carm. gave a brief introduction. They are pictured to the left. Mike Kissane encouraged all to pause for a moment of silence to remember all the Alumni who have passed away. He also asked all to remember the deceased Carmelites like Fr Albert. He invited all to take a walk in the cemetery across the street and look through the names of those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. Finally, he reminded all that in the cemetery there is a memorial stone remembering all deceased Alumni who are prayed for each time the Carmelites celebrate Carmelite All Souls.
The plaque on the barn reads: “The Father Albert Daly, O. Carm. Memorial Red Barn, This historical Red Barn stands as a silent sentry to all things Carmelite – past and present and honors the memory of the late Rev. Albert Daly, O. Carm.”
One Final Award
There was much discussion during the day over which class was best represented at the picnic. Certainly the class of 1974 (Jake Coppock, Fred Schwartz, Terry Seeley, Marty Leahy and Juan Medina) made a good showing. However, the award goes to the class of 1976 (John Raftery, Mike Kissane, Tim Weiler, Eugene Foley and Kevin Dwyer) pictured to the right. The judges decided to give them the award since they were in better shape and percentage wise, had a better representation of their graduating class. After the day’s festivities, the classmates dined at Orios, the famous pizza place where they used to go frequently as students. While there, they spotted Fr. Alfred Isaccson, O. Carm. who was dining with Bob Linderman (1970) and his family. Bob gets the award for traveling the furthest to attend the picnic and promised to make future ones.
All who attended were glad they came. It was announced that the Alumni picnic will be an annual event. We hope to encourage many more to come next year.
The next Alumni event will be the annual Golf Tournament which will take place on Thursday, August 26th, 2004 beginning at 11:00 am for those who golf. The cost is $225 for golfers which includes, lunch, cocktails and reception and dinner. Those who would like to just come for dinner are invited to the cocktail and reception and dinner beginning at 5:00 pm for $100.
The outing takes place at the Middle Bay Country Golf Club in Oceanside, Long Island pictured to the left. This course is one of the premier courses on Long Island. The Alumni Association which sponsors the Golf outing would like to remind all that you need not be a good golfer to play. After all, Mike Stec plays in each tournament. We are looking forward to a good turnout. For more information and to register, go to the Alumni Golf website by clicking HERE. If you simply cannot make it, you may want to consider being a sponsor for the outing. There are various levels of sponsorship and each includes mention in our Golf Journal which is distributed to all who attend.