Santo and Josephine Gentile

Saint Mary’s Gala Honors Local Couple

Josephine and Santo Gentile Receive Magnificat Award

This year’s Church of Saint Mary Parish Gala honors Manhasset residents Josephine and Santo Gentile for their 37 years of contributions to the parish and its ministries.

Josephine and Santo are being celebrated for their humanitarian efforts, supporting scholarships, donating to the poor, funding church projects, and sponsoring medical missions to impoverished countries to save lives. Their devotion and love for family remain constant in their daily lives as they continue to be involved in their family’s lives.

Father Robert Romeo, the pastor of the Church of St. Mary, expressed his deep gratitude towards the couple. “Josephine and Santo not only share an exemplary devotion but also to their faith and family in following Christ’s message of hope and evangelization beyond the Catholic Church. Through their ability to share the Gospel message by example and most often quietly assisting those in need, we bestow this year’s Magnificat Award upon Josephine and Santo in recognition of their faith-filled and charitable efforts,” said Father Romeo.

The Magnificat Award is bestowed upon parishioners of the Church of Saint Mary who embody the qualities championed by the Catholic faith, living out the Gospel values in their daily lives.

“The Gentiles exceptional service and dedication, symbolized by this prestigious award, have left an indelible mark on our parish community and well beyond. They have shared their time, talent, and treasure, reaching out to those in need and inspiring us all with their unwavering commitment,” said Eileen Symmons, Director of Communications for St. Mary’s.

When asked to describe her relationship with St. Mary’s, Josephine grew teary-eyed. “I love the church, this community. I feel so close that I find myself thinking about it and wanting to do much for the church and the parish members. Although I have not much time because I’m busy with other things in my life, I want to be part of this community and church and would like everybody in my family to be close to the parish. I would like to always express my love for the church and for God.”

Santo and Josephine Gentile on their Wedding Day

Santo said that he spent a lot of time ‘chasing life’ but that he returned to the church in his sixties, as he cared for his ailing mother. “My mother was ill and I visited her in the hospital. I saw the peace she was in as I took her to church in her wheelchair. So it changed my life completely. I began to write poetry. And it gives me great peace in my soul as I’m writing.”

The writing and the community has helped to change Santo’s perspective on life’s chaos. “I enjoy my later years of life much more than the past. Because I accept things as they are. And the world is insane. You live with the insanity. You become part of it. But you have your own trail to carry follow and life goes on.”

The church has always been a part of Josephine’s life, even as a child in Sicily. She cites her mother’s influence as the example for her devotion.

“My mother was very religious. She went to church every day. There was a church in walking distance and she walked there every day with friends. Sometimes I say to myself, I should do the same thing. But it’s hard. I am still growing in the faith,” said Josephine.

When asked for their advice on how to deal with challenges, the couple offered insight into their convergent approaches. Josephine recommended prayer. Santo paraphrased one of his poems, titled ‘Gradually’: “gradually the unacceptable becomes acceptable. We’ll look at a life, and things have changed. But a man stands to his principles. Don’t compromise your principles.”

The Church of Saint Mary will host its annual Parish Gala on Saturday, June 15, 2024, at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club in Port Washington. Event tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available online at or by calling the Office of Development at 516-627-4605.


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