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Fr. Peter McGeory, Pastor of St. Joseph's Church, Grand Marshal of Memorial Day Parade

By Carol P. Bartold

May 20, 2015:  "I was happy teaching at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains," said Fr. Peter McGeory, pastor of St. Joseph's Church in Bronxville and grand marshal of the village's 95th annual Memorial Day parade.

Fr. McGeory had served as a priest in the diocese for ten years when John Cardinal O'Connor asked him to serve in the United States Navy.

"I kind of respectfully said no," Fr. McGeory related, but the archbishop insisted and suggested Fr. McGeory take a three-year tour of duty to see if he liked it. "I stayed for twenty five years," Fr. McGeory said. "They kept giving me better and better assignments." He spent eight years at sea on a variety of ships.

Fr. McGeory said his primary obligation as a military chaplain is to support the First Amendment rights of every one of the ten thousand sailors and marines in his battle group.

As a staff corps officer, a military chaplain supports the commanding officer. Fr. McGeory explained that his job involved carrying out the religious program of the commanding officer, whose job was to ensure that the religious needs and rights of every person in his command are met. "I was responsible, as the Roman Catholic chaplain on a ship, to make sure that every faith group had space, materials, and a budget to worship," he said.

Since 1775, when the United States Navy was founded, chaplains have worked in an ecumenical environment with over one hundred denominations represented, Fr. McGeory noted. "Chaplains do not work side by side, we work together and follow the mantra 'cooperation without compromise.'"

As he advanced in rank, Fr. McGeory served three- and four-star admirals and had charge of all operational ministry. "I was in charge of the chaplains and knowing how religious needs were being met on anything in the world that floated," he said.

Fr. McGeory described his experiences as a chaplain in the United States Navy as a very healthy one that made him aware of the religious needs of others.

"Those who serve," he said, "especially our enlisted sailors and marines, those are the people we live for. Those are the people we need most to take care of because they're young. That's what you try and train the young officers for."

Fr. McGeory spent the last years of his naval career at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. "That was great," he said, "because I had the time to really mold future leaders." He retired from the Navy in 2010 with the rank of captain and as the academy's senior chaplain.

Fr. Peter McGeory's advice, not only for Memorial Day but also for every day, is to find the people who are serving. "Go up to them. Look them in the eye. Shake their hand and thank them for what they're doing. It makes their day."

Pictured here:  Fr. Peter McGeory, St. Joseph's Church. 

Photo by N. Bower 

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Bronxville Overview

Bronxville is a quaint village (one square mile) located just 16 miles north of midtown Manhattan (roughly 30 minutes on the train) and has a population of approximately 6,500. It is known as a premier community with an excellent public school (K-12) and easy access to Manhattan. Bronxville offers many amenities including an attractive business district, a hospital (Lawrence Hospital), public paddle and tennis courts, fine dining at local restaurants, two private country clubs and a community library.

While the earliest settlers of Bronxville date back to the first half of the 18th century, the history of the modern suburb of Bronxville began in 1890 when William Van Duzer Lawrence purchased a farm and commissioned the architect, William A. Bates, to design a planned community of houses for well-known artists and professionals that became a thriving art colony. This community, now called Lawrence Park, is listed on the National register of Historic Places and many of the homes still have artists’ studios. A neighborhood association within Lawrence Park called “The Hilltop Association” keeps this heritage alive with art shows and other events for neighbors.

Bronxville offers many charming neighborhoods as well as a variety of living options for residents including single family homes, town houses, cooperatives and condominiums. One of the chief benefits of living in “the village” is that your children can attend the Bronxville School.

The Bronxville postal zone (10708, known as “Bronxville PO”) includes the village of Bronxville as well as the Chester Heights section of Eastchester, parts of Tuckahoe and the Lawrence Park West, Cedar Knolls, Armour Villa and Longvale sections of Yonkers. Many of these areas have their own distinct character. For instance, the Armour Villa section has many historic homes and even has its own newsletter called “The Villa Voice” which reports on neighborhood news.

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