Food for thought at the Ecumenical Breakfast

Speakers at SISCA’s Ecumenical Breakfast included, from the left, Julius Manchise, Pastor Bill Grimbol, Father Peter DeSanctis, Pastor Tom Charls and Reverend Alan Krauss.

Pastor Bill Grimbol of the Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, the unofficial host of SISCA’s Ecumenical Breakfast on Wednesday, November 19, was the first of the invited clergy to speak. He declined President Carolyn Willberg’s offer of the microphone. Indeed his voice and his presence filled the room just as they probably would have the old Yankee Stadium.

This was his food for thought that morning: “Happiness comes from the inside out. Count your blessings and choose to be happy each day.” Every morning at breakfast he and his wife Patti do exactly that. Of late they’ve been photographing their special places on Shelter Island.

During his 25 years here he’s known and served so many Islanders who have lost loved ones. “These,” he said, “are holey people, people who are living with holes in their lives.” SISCA members Bill Romanchuk, Charlie Williams, Bud Binder and Mary Cronin come to mind. Their families are certainly among the “holey” this Thanksgiving.

Alan Krauss, a retired Methodist minister who serves as unofficial SISCA chaplain, was the second to speak, offering a hearty “amen” to Pastor Bill’s words of hope. 

Pastor Tom Charls of the Grace Evangelical Church was looking forward to his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. “Everyone has something to be thankful for,” he said, “especially me.” He nearly lost his beloved wife Lois in an horrific accident on the North Road last spring.

Father Dan Harris of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church was unable to come. Father Peter DeSanctis of Our Lady of the Isle Roman Catholic Church was the first speaker to introduce a particularly ecumenical note in his food for thought. His father, he declared, “used to say Thanksgiving is for everybody.” That means Christians, Jews and the children of Islam. Although he didn’t specify how we could promote good inter-faith relations, I think we could at least celebrate major holy days with our friends and neighbors of other faiths.

The fifth and final speaker was the irrepressible Julius Manchise, who with his wife Gladys chairs the Shelter Island Samaritans, a new program established by all four of the local churches. Its goals are to help foster communication between denominations, assist with spiritual needs as deemed necessary by the churches, and, when asked, to assist the churches in their ministry to the people of Shelter Island. Among the more tangible activities this year, the Samaritans have assisted with the Island Food Pantry, raised money for a family in need and coordinated and helped serve dinner for Shelter Island’s All Faith Youth Group. 

Please feel free to call Julius or Gla-dys at 749-0543 with your thoughts on how the Samaritans can continue to minister through and with the churches on Shelter Island.


For the SISCA members whose best-loved meal of the day is their first, Chef Angela Corbett created a dream breakfast — scrambled eggs, waffles, sausage, bacon, rolls and Danish pastry, a grape and sliced honeydew melon fruit platter, and something new that she found on the Internet, strata, a quiche-like dish with cheese and sausage.

Among those helping with the preparations on Wednesday and Thursday were Joan Belaval, Gert Bourne, Adelaide Gradischer, Charlotte Hannabury and Carolyn Willberg. Working side-by-side with Angela on Thursday was her friend and regular assistant at these affairs, Shirley Ferrer. It’s no picnic cooking breakfast for about 60 people. But they did and were roundly applauded by soundly replete members and guests.

At a brief business meeting after the guests had departed, Carolyn, the current and future SISCA president, introduced the slate of officers for 2010 — herself, of course; Gert Bourne, vice president; Emily Hallman, secretary; and Jeanne Woods, treasurer. The vote for the slate was unanimous, ensuring SISCA’s continuity at the executive level for at least another year.

Carolyn urged the members to show their support for the Island’s premier senior organization by attending meetings, participating in its activities and paying their $10 dues. With that, she thanked all who had made the Ecumenical Breakfast the outstanding success it was, despite earlier talk, believe it or not, of cancelling this traditional gathering for lack of interest.