Thank you for the beautiful obituary of Msgr. Peter Gelsomino (CNY, March 2).
Msgr. Gelsomino treated everyone with the same respect, kindness and love. Even though Msgr. Gelsomino taught many subjects, including religion, art, Russian and more, he was first and foremost a teacher of the Gospel. He never missed an opportunity to teach the Good News about Jesus, forgiveness and salvation.
I was privileged to know Father Peter for 47 years. I was introduced to him by my older brothers, two of his many students during his 35 years at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains. At 12 years old, I could not wait to have Father Peter as a teacher at Stepinac. Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of being in any of his classes. However, we forged a friendship that lasted a lifetime as he became my mentor and spiritual advisor, just as he was to many others. He also celebrated the Mass for my wedding to my wife, Marie, baptized our children, helped my parents to renew their wedding vows for their 40th anniversary and was there for us when my parents and father-in-law passed away, providing comfort and reassurance in the Resurrection.
Perhaps Father Peter’s greatest gift was of himself. He answered God’s call when he said, “Here I am Lord, send me.” He lived his life to serve others, taking Jesus’ teaching from Matthew 25:31-46, and helped the least of these, at every opportunity that he could.
Father Peter’s most important lesson was that without Jesus first and foremost in our lives, we are nothing. He taught us that Jesus came to forgive and save everyone, even sinners like me. For that I will always be grateful.
My classmates and I were able to share one final evening with him at our 40th class reunion last October. He again led us in a Stepinac cheer, played charge on his trumpet, and reminded us that everything comes from God and that Jesus needs to be the center of our lives.
All who had the pleasure to know him over his 87-year lifespan—family, friends, students, parishioners, etc.—are better for it and for the spiritual impact that he had on our lives.
Carl Garofolo Jr.
The writer is a member of Archbishop Stepinac High School’s class of 1976.