Pizza with the Pastor:

54 confirmandi and a priest walk into a restaurant

April 15, 2024 at 9:51 a.m.
Msgr. Gervasio fields questions from the Confirmation candidates in Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, during a “Pizza With The Pastor” gathering. Courtesy photo
Msgr. Gervasio fields questions from the Confirmation candidates in Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, during a “Pizza With The Pastor” gathering. Courtesy photo


Staff of a local parish turned the tables on eighth graders preparing for Confirmation April 13.

Staffers normally interview students at Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, but they decided to try a more social approach and hold the interviews in a local pizzeria.

The 54 students became the interviewers while their pastor, Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, was the lone interviewee.

“Pizza with the Pastor was a fun, faith-filled evening of lively conversation,” said Mariyam Francis, OLS-SA’s catechetical leader.

She said the idea evolved following the pandemic, when the interview format was suspended and replaced by a Q & A worksheet project, which was used over the past few years.

“Although the written project served as a stopgap during the pandemic, like many activities during the COVID lockdown, it lacked a personal element,” she said. This year, the parish staff opted to provide the Confirmation candidates with a more personal encounter with Msgr. Gervasio as part of their preparation.

Each student submitted two questions, which Msgr. Gervasio reviewed, then divided into four categories: Confirmation, theology, spirituality and personal questions.

Examples of personal questions Msgr. Gervasio fielded included “Why did you decide to become a priest?” “At what age did you become a pastor?” “Have you ever lost faith?” and “How would someone know they are called to the priesthood?”

Other questions the students asked were: “What happens if you die before Baptism?” “Do temptations become easier to deal with after Confirmation?” and “If I see a negative post about God, should I respond or ignore it?”

“The goal was to help the students feel more comfortable about sharing their faith in an informal setting,” Francis said, noting that as students enjoyed their pizza, Msgr. Gervasio walked among the tables and answered their questions.

“The boys and girls were attentive, and they enjoyed interacting with their pastor,” Francis said. “Many of the students sent letters of appreciation to Monsignor, thanking him for the fun-filled evening.”

Francis said the parish looks forward to using informal gatherings as a setting for evangelization activities for the next generation of Catholics, beginning with Confirmation prep and continuing through teen and young adult years.

Moreover, she added, holding the event in a restaurant “proved to be a successful way for eighth graders to see their pastor as approachable,” she said, noting that even the restaurant staff was pleased that many of their regular dining guests lingered longer to witness the interaction between Msgr. Gervasio and his young guests.

“The boys and girls experienced an opportunity to see that evangelization is not limited to the church property, but can be brought out into the world,” Francis said.


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Staff of a local parish turned the tables on eighth graders preparing for Confirmation April 13.

Staffers normally interview students at Our Lady of Sorrows-St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, but they decided to try a more social approach and hold the interviews in a local pizzeria.

The 54 students became the interviewers while their pastor, Msgr. Thomas N. Gervasio, was the lone interviewee.

“Pizza with the Pastor was a fun, faith-filled evening of lively conversation,” said Mariyam Francis, OLS-SA’s catechetical leader.

She said the idea evolved following the pandemic, when the interview format was suspended and replaced by a Q & A worksheet project, which was used over the past few years.

“Although the written project served as a stopgap during the pandemic, like many activities during the COVID lockdown, it lacked a personal element,” she said. This year, the parish staff opted to provide the Confirmation candidates with a more personal encounter with Msgr. Gervasio as part of their preparation.

Each student submitted two questions, which Msgr. Gervasio reviewed, then divided into four categories: Confirmation, theology, spirituality and personal questions.

Examples of personal questions Msgr. Gervasio fielded included “Why did you decide to become a priest?” “At what age did you become a pastor?” “Have you ever lost faith?” and “How would someone know they are called to the priesthood?”

Other questions the students asked were: “What happens if you die before Baptism?” “Do temptations become easier to deal with after Confirmation?” and “If I see a negative post about God, should I respond or ignore it?”

“The goal was to help the students feel more comfortable about sharing their faith in an informal setting,” Francis said, noting that as students enjoyed their pizza, Msgr. Gervasio walked among the tables and answered their questions.

“The boys and girls were attentive, and they enjoyed interacting with their pastor,” Francis said. “Many of the students sent letters of appreciation to Monsignor, thanking him for the fun-filled evening.”

Francis said the parish looks forward to using informal gatherings as a setting for evangelization activities for the next generation of Catholics, beginning with Confirmation prep and continuing through teen and young adult years.

Moreover, she added, holding the event in a restaurant “proved to be a successful way for eighth graders to see their pastor as approachable,” she said, noting that even the restaurant staff was pleased that many of their regular dining guests lingered longer to witness the interaction between Msgr. Gervasio and his young guests.

“The boys and girls experienced an opportunity to see that evangelization is not limited to the church property, but can be brought out into the world,” Francis said.

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