People of Visitation

PEOPLE OF VISITATION
In honor of our 75th anniversary, let’s meet some of the parishioners who make Visitation so wonderful and welcoming.
_Mary Lou Ward
Visitation parishioner for 60 years
Attends 8am Mass

“Al and I moved here in 1958 as newlyweds and have been at Visitation for 60 years. Over those years the parish has become so much a part of our lives that we could never bring ourselves to move away even when our house was full to bursting, requiring either a move or a complete remodel. After much thought and prayer, we elected to stay and remodel and have always been grateful. Most of our friends are also lifelong Visitation parishioners. All of us met as participants in the life of the parish, either at mass, as workers at various parish events or as school parents.

Over the years, both Al and I have volunteered on a regular basis in various capacities. Al has served on the Finance Council and was a lector for many years and together we have volunteered on various parish fundraisers such as Carnival, parish celebrations such as the 50th and 75th Anniversaries, priests’ 50th . I now volunteer with Toni Kerker in Mary and Martha, a prayer and service group; as coordinator of Daytime Bible Study; as a Lector, EM and Church Angel and am serving on the Renew Visitation Committee.

My very favorite memory among so many wonderful memories of events, gatherings and attending mass at Viz is the work that I did in compiling the Parish History on the occasion of our 50th Anniversary. Many of the original parishioners were still alive and happy to share their memories. I was inspired by their stories about the founding of the parish, by the sacrifices and loving generosity (not to speak of all the fun). How it began in the garage of a rented house, how Msgr. (then Father) Sullivan (the O also came later) begged and borrowed the sacred vessels for mass, how the parishioners put up notices on the telephone poles around the newly developing Westchester community that the Church of the Visitation would soon be up and running; their sacrifices to build the church and school ( dinners, Hand craft Sales, two carnivals a year for the first several years!). Not only was I fortunate to tape the interviews with about forty of them but also five hours of Msgr. O’Sullivan’s memories (he had a remarkable memory). Father Engh then at LMU, found a student to transcribe the tapes so we had a record in their own voices. Although those tapes and transcripts were lost, we published a little booklet titled The History of Visitation, so many of the memories survived. The experience gave me an even greater appreciation for the legacy of hospitality, generosity and service with which we present parishioners of Visitation are blessed.

Visitation has been our home for 60 years. We have been blessed indeed by the hospitality, love and generosity of the Visitation Parish Community. I am always proud to welcome newcomers to our community knowing that they will be made welcome and if they choose, will become part of the fabric of this wonderful prayer community of friends.”

 

Mike Rotolo
(pictured with his wife, Mary)
President at TG Construction and contractor for Project Safe & Beautiful
Attends 9:30am mass
Parishioner since birth

“I’m proud to say that in addition to attending school here for 8 years I celebrated my Baptism, First Reconciliation and Communion, Confirmation, Matrimony (with my wife Mary) and even Anointing of the Sick here at Visitation.

I’m currently on the Men’s Cornerstone Core Team and am proud to be part of the Cornerstone Team to share this amazing experience with the men of our parish. I also am blessed to have the opportunity to assist Fr. Jim with Construction Management for the Renew Visitation program.
My favorite memory at Visitation is of course My Wedding with Mary. Other than that my Cornerstone experiences are awesome, and thinking back to my school years I loved the newspaper drives, unloading papers from cars and filling the dumpsters. That was a kick!
I have so many great memories from this school. Back “in the day” when I was a Boy Scout, we had a lot of fun being the overnight “guards” for the Visitation Carnival booths, sleeping outside and keeping an eye on the place.
Moving forward, I would love for our parish to continue to grow as neighbors come to realize what a great community it is, and as our facilities continue to be “Renewed'”

When not at Visitation, Mike can be found playing volleyball at the beach with family and friends, camping, hiking, or skiing. He is the proud father of two amazing children – Anthony, and Lauren. And he will be leading our Project Safe & Beautiful as we continue to Renew Visitation.

 

Kathy McGrath
(pictured with her partner in crime, Michael Kramer)
Visitation’s Music Director
Attends 8am, 9:30am, and 4:30pm masses
Parishioner since 1991

“My time at Visitation began when one of my friends from LMU, told me that Visitation was looking to form a Christmas choir. We both followed up on the job advertisement, and then she told me that she secretly wanted her boyfriend at the time to get the piano part of the job. (He didn’t !), they broke up, and the rest is history! Members of the 9:30 AM choir told us they wanted to sing year round, and the 9:30 AM Sunday choir was born.

One of my favorite memories from Visitation happened while playing for a wedding at Vis. There is a part in the ceremony where the couple presents a bouquet of flowers to the Mary statue and Ave Maria is sung. When I started playing the Ave Maria, instead of picking up the small bouquet left on the side of the kneeler by the florist, the groom hoisted up the giant wrought iron holder and flower display (this was quite a feat, because it was super heavy), lugged it over to the Mary statue like the Incredible Hulk, and plopped it down with a huge crash. And instead of staying there for the whole song, he just went back to his kneeler, mission accomplished, and the bride followed him. The singer was laughing so hard that she sang just one line “Ave Maria..” and then just went and sat down with her hands in her lap, looking down! And the visiting priest turned his back and pretended to turn the tabernacle key to hide his face. I ended the song and looked straight ahead for the rest of the ceremony.

Oh wait, I’ve got another good story. Father O’Grady’s birthday is April 1st. One year (like this year), it fell on a Sunday, and he was doing the 8 AM Mass. We cleared out all the priest vestments and put them in the back room and hung a Superman costume in the vestment closet. I heard a “what is THIS??” and then he shook it at me from the door. I’m convinced he would have put it on if we’d had more time! Next year I’m putting a “Silver Fox Escort Service” magnetic sign on his car. Don’t tell.

Visitation is such a special place- it is a spiritual and spirited community, and largely drama-free. It is full of helpful, friendly, generous, and down-to-earth people- old, young, and in between- all who go out of their way to help those less fortunate, and to help each other. We truly embody the spirit of hospitality as a parish and live up to our name, and Father Jim Forsen is such a charismatic, hard-working, and God centered pastor. With Father Jim leading the way, my hope is that Visitation exceeds its goals for the Renew Visitation Campaign and reaches its highest potential as a parish.”

When not behind the piano at Visitation, Kathy can be found behind the piano somewhere else, or playing fiercely competitive tennis against her college friend who taunts her nonstop.

 

Mike Mininsky
Visitation School PTO Chairperson

“When Allison and I moved to Westchester we weren’t sure where we would settle in for Church or School. We had friends who were passionate about their own situations and we needed to figure out what felt best for our family.

The energy and warmth we felt from our first few trips to Visitation were a sign. We knew it was a great fit on the car ride home from open house. One friend said, “I told you!” Little did we know the extent to which we’d “fit in” and how our sense of community would grow over the next 5 years years – wow, has it only been 5 years?

I’m the current PTO Chairperson and Co-Chair of The O’Grady Golf Classic, while Allison is a room parent for the Junior Kindergarten class. We like to stay involved in the Visitation Community any way we can and enjoy working alongside so many great people to help improve an already fantastic Parish. Joining our friends and making so many new ones at Visitation has been a highlight of our time in Westchester. We are looking forward to our boys, Sean and Colin, growing up through the Renewal of Visitation.”

You can find Mike working the bar at any Visitation event or on weekday mornings in the school parking lot chatting it up with the dad’s. He’ll be the one in flip flops.

Barbara Berg
Visitation parishioner 22 years
Parish Pastoral Council member
Bible Buddies leader
Faith, Food, and Fellowship organizer

“I moved to LA in the fall of 1989 to attend LMU. Before that I had lived in Columbus, OH; Seattle, WA; and Munich, Germany. Although I lived in Westchester while attending LMU, I never knew Visitation existed until 1995, when my husband and I moved into our current house, one block from Visitation.

The people of Visitation welcomed us and our growing family to the point that I came to consider Visitation as my second home and second family. I am grateful for this wonderful, close community! And I love that I have been privileged to be here for 22 years: having moved around during my childhood, I cherish this stability and continuity.

In fact, a few years after I first came to Vis. I arrived for 8 AM Mass and there was a new pianist: Kathy McGrath. I couldn’t believe it: Kathy had been one of my piano teachers (my favorite, of course!) at LMU back in 1990. Talk about continuity!”

Barbara leads Bible Buddies, a group that meets on Tuesday evenings from 7-8:30 pm in the Parish Center to study and discuss the Bible.
You can find Barbara, her husband Michael, and their six children in the front pew at 8am mass on Sunday.

Mary Golad
Visitation Parishioner for 61 years
Attends 5pm mass on Saturday evenings

“I started in 3rd grade at Visitation school, as a parent I sent my own children to Visitation, and today I am the parish secretary.

I have worked at the rectory since 1992, first as a housekeeper/cleaner, then as the secretary since 1995 for every pastor Visitation has had except Msgr. O’ Sullivan.

Visitation’s defining quality has always been the people who make up the parish. They are generous, kind, loving and helpful in every way.

We have also been very lucky in the quality of the pastors and associate pastors who have worked here, although I am really partial to our current pastor and associate. They are truly the best of the best. As my husband said when he met Father Jim, “if you look in the dictionary under priest, there should be a picture of Father Jim.” He is the energizer bunny whose brain never stops and who can’t say no. I can’t say enough about what a pleasure it is to work with/for him.

My favorite memory is a recent one. When my office was renovated by a very generous parishioner. I am very appreciative of my “new” surroundings and I thank them in my prayers everyday!

The future of Visitation is very bright. With the renovations that are planned for RENEW VISITATION, there are some good changes coming. I am especially excited about all the technology that we have tapped into with Facebook, Instagram and using email and messaging. I still don’t know how to tweet, but maybe my son will show me how someday.

And I do love my job! ”

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Courtney O’Donaghue
Visitation parishioner for 40 years.

I’ve been a parishioner here since I was a baby.
I went to school here and was in the first class of girl altar servers.
I went away to college and traveled a lot in my 20’s and whenever I came home it always felt good to be at Visitation. A place that never changes but always grows.
My wedding day was my best memory at Visitation. To be in a place so special where I grew up in front of all my friends and family with my soon to be husband. The walk down the long aisle with my Dad was magical. We talked about Dodger Baseball and who was pitching on Sunday to keep us from crying.

Today, I chair the campaign to Renew Visitation.
For me, the future of Visitation has a fresh new look and more young families beginning their roots at Visitation.

Dick Van Dusen
Visitation parishioner for 67 years
 
“I am Sacristan in the Church and help in the Rectory office.
As Sacristan I ready the needs for Mass celebration for all Masses. I am an usher at the Sunday 11 AM Mass.
Where I am now, I can appreciate being a student at Visitation School in the 1950s.
Playing in the dirt lot that was just north across from 86th street of where the old Church stood and where the Jr. High building is now.
How the School became an island surrounded by water when it rained.
How we had about 8 racks for parking bikes that we took to school.
The nuns were tough but extremely loving and giving of their lives.
I dearly miss the carnival dunk tank that Dick Laner manned some times on a cold October day, also the carnival jail that held students that had warrants of arrest put out for them, we also had the U.S. Coast Guard land a helicopter on the School yard in front of all the classes and then offer hands on tours of the airship and of a Fire Department Hook & Ladder truck brought in by Fire House #5. Lastly I still remember a December where we all crowded into the auditorium, sat on the floor with popcorn, and watched a Laurel & Hardy Christmas themed film “March of the Toy Soldiers”.”