As many of you know our cantor at the Sunday 8 am Mass and long-time member of the Adult Choir, Mario Ogno, and his family will be moving from Brooklyn in July. He will be greatly missed, as will his wife: Alice, and their children: Julia Alice, Mario III, and Nicholas. They all have been an integral part of our parish family.
Mario and Alice, to you and the entire family, best wishes!
I love singing! Whether I’m singing for myself to pass the time away, to help a charity, or for the congregation. Spiritual singing has helped me get through happy and sad times. I sang to my wife at our wedding reception, and to my children growing up. I prepared the music, and sang for both my parents’ and sister’s funerals.
As a member of Saint Anselm’s Music Ministry, I feel my role is to enhance a congregation members’ personal spiritual experience; assisting them with getting closer to God. I am His Instrument. I am humbled by the compliments received over the years. And as I have shared with parishioners, I will never say, “it’s me”. My fear, being human, has always been I would lose my insight, and His Gift would be taken away.
I grew up surrounded by music. My father was always singing, either while working, cleaning the house especially after dinner each night, or leading family, friends and neighbors at parties or gatherings. Between my parents and siblings, I was exposed to an eclectic mix of Beatles, Four Seasons, The Monkees, Tom Jones, Jimmy Rosselli, Jerry Vale some Big Bands, and other popular music of the late ’60s and early ’70s. I would listen for hours on the old Victrola, radio, cassette tapes, or stereo. In Catholic School, I joined the Children’s Choir of Saint Jane Frances de Chantal in 2nd Grade. It was that New Sound that grew out of the music I had come to love in the late ’60s. I was exposed to different Church Groups over time. I began to learn about my voice, and able to put together harmonies. At age 19, and for several years thereafter, I took formal vocal lessons with Dolores Madri-Galdi. She took my still “child’s” voice that people were turning away from, and transformed it into an adult sound, where people would ask for another.
In 1984, I met my wife Alice Clifford in Our Lady of Angels Singles Club. She was part of the OLA Folk Group, under the direction Patricia “Pat” Farnen. Alice was their Lead Guitarist, with a powerful Alto voice. Till this day, I’ve learned to hone in on her voice, as an anchor, when I find myself having difficulty with a song on the Altar.
I was between choirs at the time, and was asked by Ms. Farnen to join when she found out I sing Tenor. I was exposed to a plethora of harmonies, but not permitted to sing them.
Prior to the Folk Group, I had been exposed to 4-part harmony at St. Agatha’s, and OLPH. In 1991, while Alice was expecting with our daughter Julia Alice, we formed our own little Group, The Roam’in Christians, at St. Agatha’s, which ended when Julia was born. By 1996 I grew tired of The OLA Folk Group on a regular basis, and when Julia Alice entered St. Anselm’s in 1996, Alice and I joined the Choir under the direction of Maestro Philip Nuzzo. My music education expanded 100 fold. We were a “Piece Ready Choir”, which put on concerts regularly. Our current Director, Therese Panacali, has followed this working formula. Under her direction, I have found my sound, with my range greatly extended. And now Julia, who has been exposed to music prenatally, as well as our son Mario III afterwards, also began singing, with the St. Anselm’s Children’s Choir, directed by John Staniszewski. I began assisting the Children’s Choir 2004, eventually moving over from 2006, till around 2014. Alice and Mario joined shortly thereafter. In 2007 our youngest son, Nicholas James, entered our lives at 4 months old. For the first 2 years, he laid in the cusp of my elbow, as I assisted directing the children choir.
Julia left the Children’s Choir by High School, busy with concerts at school and being a teenager. However she continued Altar Serving, as scheduled, and as needed after her 18th birthday. Mario also Altar served for a while, and Nicholas could not wait for 4th grade to become one. He does double duty though. Like his sister and brother, he also sang in the Children’s Choir since 3rd grade.
Julia was a Saint Anselm’s Girl Scout. Mario joined the Cub Scouts, with me as his Den Leader for several years. And, Nicholas got into the act, joining as a Tiger Cub, and like his brother received his Arrow of Light. Alice was his Den Leader and eventually became the Pack Commissioner.
As a family, we participated in Catholic Charities 100th Anniversary in 2000. We had our own spot and time to entertain in Prospect Park. Julia took up vocal in High School. Mario learned the drums and some clarinet. For several years he was the drummer for the Children’s Choir.
I became Leader of Song at St. Anselm’s September 15th, 2001, right after 9/11. It was the Church, and participation in the Music Ministry, which helped our little family get through this tragedy, which had compounded my recovery from cancer and near death in 1999. My participation in The Holy Name Society only strengthened and increased my spirituality in praising Our Heavenly Father and the Holy Trinity.
Throughout my years, both prior and while at St. Anselm’s, I assisted for over a decade with the Novenas for the Most Sacred Heart for the Good Sister’s of Visitation Academy, in addition to their Anniversary and other special occasions. It was a surprise when I learned that their order was a descendent of Saint Jane France de Chantal’s order. I also had participated and Lead the Music for the Healing Ministries of Father Kelleher and Father McDonough on occasion. And now as a 3rd Degree Knight for the John Hughes Council #481, I prepared the Music Program and Lead the Congregation for the Annual Mass for the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul, for the Long Island Assembly of 4th Degree Knights.
In conclusion, I want to thank Msgr. Maloney and the Pastoral Staff, along with the Lay Staff of St. Anselm’s Roman Catholic Church, for allowing my family and me, to be active participants in the Saint Anselm’s Ministry. You are our Extended Family. My Family and I have made many friends over the years, with relationships I know will be long-lasting.
God Bless You All. May the Peace of Jesus Christ Be With You and Your Kin.
Mario Ogno Jr. and Family.