Everyone at some point in life experiences a power beyond their control. Bishop Peter Robert Raimondi, 63 of West Islip said he received his calling from God later on in life. His eternal gratitude and dedication are at the forefront of his services to his faith, his family, and to the people he helps daily.
Bishop Raimondi was born in Brooklyn, but grew up in Farmingdale. He was raised in an Italian family, where a religious presence was imminent from birth.
“Religion has always been an important part of my life,” said Raimondi. “The traditions of our culture and faith define who we are and to whom we belong.”
On Sept. 11, 1972, Raimondi began his 30-year career at the Long Island Railroad, retiring in 2002 as an information services analyst. It was there where he met his wife Joanne.
“Being married for 32 years to a devout wife has been a great blessing and Joanne has been my support and strength throughout our life together,” said Raimondi. “She is more of an evangelist than I am.”
Joanne was with her husband in the Cathedral of the Incantation in Garden City the day his life, and theirs, would change forever.
“I saw how affected he was by the scripture he read and knew right then he had to answer God’s call,” she said. “He is a wonderful person filled with compassion and concern for others; I knew this was his path.”
Still employed, Raimondi decided to pull double duty; continuing his job at the railroad while embarking on his new path. In 1997, Raimondi began his journey as a brother in the Order of St. Andrew at St. Andrew’s Institute of Theology in Scarborough, NY.
“During seminary I read theologies, wrote comprehensive essays, took many tests, all while doing hands on work,” he continued, adding that during that time he became ordained as Deacon and obtained his Masters of Divinity in 2001.
“The best advice I ever received before embarking on this journey was, ‘If you want your heart broken, this is the business to be in,’” he said.
Raimondi realized God’s calling when he was asked to ordinate the traditional Isaiah lesson that says, ‘Whom shall I send?’ ‘Here am I Lord send me.’
“At that moment I knew what I had to do. Joining the church was my fait accompli,” said Raimondi. “I do think that my case was interesting; having had a completely different life before my religious one. I am very fortunate to experience two lives for the price of one.”
St. Peter & St. Paul’s Anglican Church was started in 1998, but it wasn’t until 2006 when Raimondi assumed his present position. He is currently president of the House of Bishops and also serves as chancellor of the Order of St. Andrew.
“We started out in a small church building until political issues made us leave after one year,” said Raimondi, who then rented a small Episcopal church for three and half years, only to relocate due to a growth in congregation. Undaunted, he opened a private chapel in his home until a building became available in Bayshore, which was sold unbeknownst to Raimondi. He was then displaced to North Babylon until the rent became too much too handle.
After what seemed like an endless life on the road, St. Peter & St. Paul’s found a new home in Copiague, and has remained there for the past two years.
“We have a wonderful congregation of loyal people across Long Island,” said Raimondi.
One of the church’s outreach members, Phyllis Longo, 69, of Deer Park, came to the congregation during a difficult time in her life.
“One day, I realized that this was the place for me to be heard and helped,” said Longo, who has attended the church with her husband for the past four years. “It is such a wonderfully warm and inviting parish.”
Longo assists in the collection of goods to donate to various senior centers. Raimondi’s wife, Joanne is also very active in the church, handling the altar guild and housekeeping.
Although Raimondi is a pastor of the American Anglican church, Hardscrabble Social Service Coordinator Kathy Bush, 78, of Farmingdale said that his service is so welcoming that all faiths sit through his mass.
“When Bishop Peter delivers the sacraments to the residents, it is just so refreshing,” she said. “He truly touches the heart of every person in our community room. Bishop Peter is a cure for everyone here and we are very fortunate to have him.”
On Sundays at 9 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., one will find Raimondi in his element. A traditional Mass at St. Peter & St. Paul’s is filled with the smells of incense and the sounds of bells. Lectors read the Old and New Testament while Raimondi preaches on the Gospel, but his favorite aspect is saying Mass.
“Being able to say the Mass is everything to me, just a great privilege,” he said. “You can take everything away from me, just let me do Mass.”
Raimondi said his own faith has increased over the course of his journey, as he has seen the miracles that God performs in the lives of those whom he is privileged to minister.
“I believe God tests our faithfulness in many ways, and I hope I passed. But the fact remains that all day every day, I am simply a servant to all.”