Joseph DePalo coaches several parish CYO basketball teams. Courtesy photo
Help us expand our reach! Please share this article
FRANKLIN -- What do jump shots and evangelization have to do with each other?
Quite a bit, if you ask Joseph DePalo, a parishioner at St. Mary Parish in Franklin.
As the director of the parish’s CYO basketball program for the past three years, DePalo manages nine teams, coaching several teams himself.
“It is certainly a challenge to compete with the media and the imaging and the message of the day, none of which stress the need for faith,” DePalo explained.
“Sometimes keeping young people interested in their faith is a struggle, but to come and play basketball, that’s a different thing.”
According to DePalo, the basketball program often draws in young people who no longer attend Mass regularly. That is where the evangelization becomes most apparent.
“The fact that it’s a CYO program allows us more latitude to demonstrate our faith,” he continued. For example, all the teams pray before games. In addition, DePalo noted that Father Robert Blaney, parochial vicar at St. Mary’s, is often present at the games, which allows the young people “to see the priest in a different environment.”
“It’s great that they get to see that he’s a regular person,” DePalo said.
Together with his wife of 21 years, Barbara, and their three children, DePalo has been a parishioner at St. Mary’s for 16 years. In addition to his involvement in the basketball program, he teaches religious education and is an extraordinary minister of holy Communion.
“St. Mary’s is an extremely large parish,” he said. “Even though I am the one being interviewed, I have to say that there are hundreds of other people that dedicate so much of their time to making the parish run smoothly in all of the different ministries we have.”
DePalo praised his pastor, Father David Callahan, for his “faith-based approach” at running the parish.
“Father Dave is very religious, very holy. He is also a very calming individual who is quite good in his leadership.”
Recently, Father Callahan asked DePalo to serve on the parish’s ARISE committee, a 12-person team implementing the archdiocesan parish renewal program.
“The parish team encompasses the different realities of the parish so we can bring together all the different ministries of the parish in order to build on each other,” DePalo said. “I think I was asked to be on the team because I work so closely with the young people of the parish.”
According to DePalo, the parish will begin the program this fall -- a program he hopes “will renew the parish” by “getting people to talk about their faith.”
“I really think this will open the door and will re-strengthen people’s faith,” DePalo said.
St. Mary, Franklin
Year Established -- 1877
Pastor -- Father David Callahan
Parochial Vicars -- Father Robert Blaney and Father Ted Kofitse
Deacon -- Richard Delio
Pastoral Associate -- Nan Rafter
Religious Education Directors -- Isabel Coyne and Karen Ackles
Parish Nurse -- Nan Rafter
Music Director -- Alessandrina Menard
Parish Secretary -- Claire Perry