Being a mere day after Father’s Day, the timing was ideal for Deacon Gary DiLallo and his son, Matthew, to launch their first joint venture at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick parishes.
On June 18 the father-and-son duo held the inaugural session of a Bible study for the six Tioga County-area churches, where Deacon DiLallo serves as director of faith formation and Matthew is business manager.
“We have two different, opposite jobs, but it’s great to work together,” Deacon DiLallo said. “I think it’s neat to have my son at staff meetings and have his words of wisdom. We car pool, have lunch together, sometimes go shoot a couple of golf balls.”
“I really enjoy it. My dad is really one of my best friends in the world,” Matthew added.
Deacon DiLallo and Matthew have collaborated on Bible presentations in the past, but this is a first for them at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick. Their first-day sessions on June 18 took place at St. Patrick Church, Owego, and St. James Church, Waverly. They said the program might turn into a weekly offering if parishioners show enough interest.
Deacon DiLallo, 57, came to Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick in the summer of 2005 from the Archdiocese of New York where he ministered at St. Joachim and St. John the Evangelist parishes in Beacon, near Poughkeepsie. He also was director of deacon formation for the Poughkeepsie area.
He has more than three decades of Army experience, most recently as CEO of the 77th Regional Reserve Command at Fort Totten, Queens. Deacon DiLallo, a retired brigadier general, noted that his unit was fully mobilized — with six members getting killed — after the Twin Towers were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.
“He didn’t come home for a week,” Matthew recalled.
Deacon DiLallo has roots in the Diocese of Rochester, having been ordained in 1990 at Sacred Heart Cathedral and previously serving at St. Mary Parish, Waterloo, and St. Hyacinth Parish, Auburn. When the opening at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick came up, he recalled, “My wife (Priscilla) said ‘Why don’t you work for the church (in a paid position), you always talked about it.’ She made first contact — it was by the grace of God. I never knew the place existed. It’s a great job; I enjoy it immensely.”
Matthew, 28, began in January 2006 as Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick’s business manager.
“I tried New York City, but it was too expensive,” he said. “My dream job was to work on Wall Street. There’s more people there who live in one building than the entire community of Owego.”
And yet, equipped with a bachelor’s degree in biblical studies and master’s degree in business administration from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., Matthew saw the position at Blessed Trinity/St. Patrick as being tailor-made for him.
“It brought together everything I learned,” he said.
Matthew cited promising financial progress for the parishes during his tenure thus far.
“Giving is up almost 7 percent, and it had been declining steadily. That’s just astounding,” he said, noting that the multichurch structure had spurred some creative thinking on his part: “I had to really think outside the box — how to have six distinctly different churches work together and strengthen their own sites.”
Meanwhile, Deacon DiLallo said his military background is useful in organizing and communicating. He noted that there are approximately 180 children in the churches’ religious-education programs, with youth ministries active at each worship site (St. Margaret Mary, Apalachin; St. Francis of Assisi, Catatonk; St. Pius X, Van Etten; St. John the Evangelist, Newark Valley; St. James; and St. Patrick).
“We have great catechists and great parishioners,” Deacon DiLallo stated.
He and his son said they strive to be visible at all the worship sites while promoting joint activities among them. And, the DiLallos naturally welcome any opportunity for their own paths to cross during their travels.
“It’s good to know that when something comes up, I can go to him,” Matthew said. “If I’m having a tough day, he’ll take me to lunch and help me process.”
From Deacon DiLallo’s end, he remains a proud pop while watching Matthew thrive in an adult-leadership role.
“Just to see him at staff meetings and see how he deals with people, it’s very special,” Deacon DiLallo said.