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The Wedding of Karen Kristin Petry and Gerald Desiderio

The Wedding of Karen Kristin Petry and Gerald Desiderio

 One more time... a former junior high beckoned the old pastor to "come on down" and preside over a marriage.  As I wrote about her in my first (and un-presented) message for the ceremony Saturday evening, she and other members of her generation are helping to keep me alive ten years into retirement, encouraging me to think that I might still be of some use in this world, by their Emails and occasional calls for pastoral consideration.

  The occasion: a wedding Saturday, June 23rd, at six o'clock at The Garden City Hotel, a suite on the second floor south, divided into thirds by diaphanous curtains, one section for the cocktail hour, another in the middle for the religious ceremony, and the third for the celebratory dinner.

  The bride is Karen Petry, art history major and scholarship student at Hofstra, who worked initially after graduation as a curator in a local museum; then served as director of an interfaith program sending Catholics and Jews together on educational trips to Israel; and now engaged fulltime with what was a sideline, an internet enterprise ( offering clothes for "Toddlers, Girls, Tweens, and Teens."  The groom is Jerry Desiderio, a bartender for the past nineteen years at King Umberto Restaurant on Meacham Avenue in Elmont, not far from the newlyweds' home in Garden City.

  The Petry Family: patriarch Bob, recently retired from Time-Warner where he was Director of Information Technology, several times accompanied the Junior Highs on trips to New York City. On one occasion, often remembered, I delivered an opinion I have lived to regret, telling the computer maven that I could see no necessary application of the computer to my work in the parish.  That was in the 1980's.  Soon thereafter I found many necessary applications of the computer for the church... including the one with which you are this moment engaged.  Matriarch Lorraine (nee Braun) has worked fulltime and now part time for many years in the customer service department of LILCO-Keyspan-National Grid, or whatever it may have been named recently.

  The three Petry children, Kim, Rob, and Karen, were confirmed by me and participated in the fun and fellowship of the Junior Highs, for which I served as a companion, playmate, and advisor.  I officiated at each of the three's weddings.  Kim, Karen's matron of honor, majored in finances at college, earned her CPA, began her career working for Coopers, moved on to U. S. Trust, then to TIAA Cref as CFO, and most recently at Citigroup.  Husband John DeIeso is an executive with the Nassau Credit Union.  They have two children Jacqueline and Nicholas, and reside in Garden City. 

 Rob Petry is a Nassau County policeman.  He has served two terms as Chief of the Valley Stream Fire Department, for whom (VSFD, that is) I still treasure a dress uniform in my closet.  Rob's wife Meredith is a kindergarten teacher in the Garden City School System. She and Rob have two children, Jack and Madison.   They reside in Merrick.

Jerry's brother Rick, a Floridian, flew in for the wedding.  He read I Corinthians 13 during the ceremony; and could, I discovered, provide a knowledgeable commentary on the passage from a personal discipline of Bible-study. Jerry's best friend, Rick Denis, was the best man.  Karen's nieces were the flower girls; her two nephews were the ring bearers.

Herewith is the second message the old pastor provided for the wedding service:

            I prepared a message for your wedding a couple of weeks ago. It was a clever (merely clever) riff on a theme suggested by your work, Recipe for a Masterpiece, daring, would you believe, Jerry, to offer free of charge my signature recipe, a command performance for our family every Thanksgiving.   Then I received your Emails, telling me your expectations for your marriage.  Recipes and masterpieces just wouldnít do you justice. 

            I take the revised theme from you, that your marriage will be what every marriage should be, companionship, heart to heart, heart for heart, hand in hand, souls united.  Okay, letís jazz it up a bit, that you are and want always to be friends and loversÖ friends and lovers. 

            You certainly are on the right track, by God.  By God, in the opening chapters of the Bible, where the Creator having taken a handful of dust and fashioned man, Adam, sees immediately that itís not enough, that itís not good for man to be alone. The animals in Eden are paraded before the lonely guy.  None of them will do.  The Lord makes a deep sleep to overtake Adam, during which God takes a rib, the best part of him, and forms woman, Eve.  There follows an exchange with a snake in the grass, leading to the man and woman being banished from paradise.  As they walk east of Eden into a far from perfect world, beset with troubles outside and in, accidents, sickness, evil circumstance, misery, you name it and I daresay have already experienced it, as Adam and Eve go into that brave new world, they go hand in hand, companions to help each other find a way which will (I quote a Catholic handbook on marriage) halve the sorrows and double the joys.

            Thatís Godís witness, the first, to your prayers for your marriage.  For witnesses two, three, four, and more: just look around you.  At those who would be quick to confirm your expectation of life lived together intimately and caringly.  Bob and Lorraine, who, if I calculate correctly, are leaning strongly toward a golden anniversary.  And how about your petite guardian angel, Karen, your grandmother? Or the fellow who is now bending your ear: Monday this week Barbara and I celebrated our 57th year wending our way together in this far from perfect world.  Sheís a very patient woman. 

            Companionship isnít the only thing, of course; but itís the main thingÖ we come to realize it most clearly when the honeymooners turn fifty; when the nest is emptied; when each knows what the other is going to order from the restaurant menu before the waiter asks; whenÖ well, when time accumulates, and common experiences too, when we finally learn what buttons not to push; when we bask in mutual consideration day in and out; when personal history lived together binds us more firmly to one another than any ritual with sacred vows.

Undergirding and informing your love for each other is the love of God. About which I Corinthians 13 is the Bibleís best description.  Self-giving love, like the love of Jesus for you and me and the whole world.  Paul in this passage links that love to kindness, forbearance, and an absence of every impulse to assert oneself at the expense of the other.  That is the love God shows us and we are to show the world. Beginning with the world closest at hand, the one with whom we share bed and board and life together here in east if Eden.

            God bless you, Karen and Jerry.  I can offer you no better advice than that which you have already given yourselves.  Friends and lovers forever.  Be that and you will be blessed indeed as you live out together the way you have charted here at the beginning.

     Following the ceremony the family and guests moved to the dining room and a table of such size as to accommodate the entire party. Luxuriant and fragrant flowers everywhere.  A six (I may have the count wrong) course meal was served culminating in a choice of three entrees, one of which seemed favored by most, a surf and turf filet mignon and lobster.  The bride and groom personally greeted everyone.  A pianist played in the background. Good conversation abounded.  Full stomachs too. We parted around 10:30, some of the children a bit earlier.  The festivities recommenced the following morning with breakfast at the hotel, a party hosted by Karen's Mom and Dad.

     Ann Landers, the advice columnist of old, regularly counseled brides that they should not worry about being happy on their wedding day; they should instead do their best to have their guests enjoy the celebration.  I doubt Karen consciously followed Miss Landers' advice, but the consequence of Karen's efforts for her old pastor and his bride were to make them think they were very special.  Consider these extravagances provided us: limousine service from West Hartford to Garden City, and back the next day; a penthouse room at the hotel (the room was so carefully designed that when this old man awoke in the middle of the night to do what old men do in the middle of the night he heard hardly a whisper from the toilet when it was flushed, without interrupting Barbara's sleep!); the seat of honor next to the bride at the dinner; a framed copy of Bob and Barbara's exchange of rings on their wedding day, one photo among several in the display at the reception; one of the large bouquets in the center of the table, to take home with us; and "Bonus Cards" for a dinner out at a West Hartford steakhouse, sufficient for a family of five.  Like Helen Dowdeswell, Grace Church congregant and French teacher at North High, would slyly comment after one of her summer trips in which she unwittingly found herself surrounded in luxury, "I could get used to it!"

     Karen and Jerry were off to Saratoga, before the races began, but where a jazz festival would be in progress.






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