Mrs. Cioce, Sherquan Dailey ’21, Mrs. Gabriel, Christopher Moronta ’22, & The Salesian Community
Three and a half years ago I walked into my freshman orientation 5 hours late. It’s something Mr. J and I continue to joke about because he held my name tag diligently searching for me for hours hoping that he didn’t lose a student. When I finally came he didn’t let me out of his sight.
At the time my father was going overseas and as a teacher he knew how critical it was for him to be there during my High School years. He told Mr. J to look after me and that is exactly what he did. Mr. J was a second father to me.
Mr. J pushed me hard for three and a half years to be the best version of myself I could be. He “harassed” me (as me and him called it), he made me laugh, he championed behind me every time I succeeded, and he exposed me to new experiences. He introduced me to the most amazing group of leaders I can humbly call family to this very day. Mr. J shoved me out of my comfort zone, teaching me that my comfort zone is not my friend. If it wasn’t for him and his impact I would not have been a fraction of the person I am today.
There is not a person on this green earth that he didn’t comfort, didn’t touch, didn’t provide laughter or love. He is truly one of those rare people that had Jesus written all over him. And no matter what happened he never lost faith and he made sure those around him never lost faith either.
I am at a loss of words. The entire community is hurt, heartbroken, and lost. Heaven gained one of the biggest, brightest souls. I am grateful for the conversations, the experiences, the lessons, and most importantly the laughs. Mr. J controlled the room- he was and is the life of the party, THE conversation. He
I am going to miss hiding from you in the halls. Even though you let me get away with it sometimes because we both knew you had my schedule open on your screen. I better hear “look at this dude” & “QUANNNN” with that iconic laugh all the way down here. My heart is heavy. My heart goes out to your beautiful and cherished family.
Thank you for everything Dad.
Over my past three years of teaching at Salesian I have met many wonderful and impressionable people. But there was one who held such a meaningful part in my life, Mr. J. Being a new teacher at a new school and just being a new teacher in general you’re naturally nervous to start this journey.
Mr. J was one of the first people to welcome me into the Salesian Community with open arms. When I started working here, I had just recently lost my father so I was a bit hesitant to form any new relationships. After having one conversation with him, I knew that he was someone special. In the past three short but wonderful years, Mr. J had become one of my closest coworkers and never ceased to amaze me with his larger than life personality.
He was one of those people that was able to make you feel like you were the most loved and important person. He made you feel like you can take on any obstacle and he always listened with a genuine care and concern for you. Any time I had a free period, especially this year I found myself in his office talking with him about virtually anything. He had the ability to make you laugh hysterically even when you wanted to cry.
I will always cherish every moment I got to spend with him and will never take it for granted. Mr. J has made such an impact on not only the Salesian Community but in my life as well. He taught me to never lose faith in not only God but yourself. I miss him dearly each and every day and look forward to the chance when we meet again….So with that being said, until next time peace.
George (Mr. J) was so much more than a coworker to me. He was a big brother and best friend, and truly one of the most important people in my life. There was an instant connection when we first met and it didn’t take long for that bond to grow into something so very special.
He was the person who was always there for a good laugh or a shoulder to cry on, to put a smile on my face, to offer the best support and motivation, or to remind me that no matter what I was dealing with “God’s got you”. He truly cared about others and pushed us all to be the best versions of ourselves.
He still continues to amaze me with the impact that he had on so many lives, and I will forever try to follow his example of how we all should live each day and treat one another. I know that I will never be the same without him here and I miss him so much already, but I just keep reminding myself to hold on to the precious memories we’ve shared and to remember how blessed I am to have had in my life at all.
Elegy for a Man More Inspiring Than Words
-for Mr. J
here we are
lost in the rainforest
our faces and leaves dampened
as we maunder through mist
what does it matter what direction we wander
what vermin may latch out from the leaves long dead
when there’s no promise in sight
no hope assured
nothing but the crux of our wayfaring leading us at loss
drawing us near;
a hand on the shoulder
inviting us in mass
to join others lost in this forest
to sing our presence with no shame
and attend the Christmas roses
here we are together finding ourselves in mirth calling out to others to join to
embrace to comfort to care to love to support so that we continue the journey
above us rests the black panther
peering from his bough
his belly full with joy and laughter
Mr. J was a great friend of mine. I knew and saw how much the Salesian boys loved him but what blew me away was when we went to Our Lady of Grace on a recruiting trip together. He told me he’d love to come but we’d have to leave a little earlier because he wanted to see some old friends at the school.
When we walked through the doors and into the lobby at OLG I felt like I was walking with a celebrity. Teachers stopped teaching their classes so their students could run into the hallway to hug “Mr. George”. He knew all their names and asked about all of their families. Secretaries jumped out of their offices as soon as they saw him.
The principal, music teacher, cafeteria workers, maintenance men, etc. all stopped what they were doing to say hello to George. He meant the world to them and they were jealous that he was working at Salesian and not OLG. That trip took us about 3 hours and it’s something I was amazed by and will never forget. I’m truly honored to have met him and lucky to have been able to call him my friend. I miss you my man. Thank you for making me a better person. “Put us down 1 or 2, everyone else is 0”
I met George over the Summer when I became a member of the Salesian Staff. Unfortunately, I only knew George for a short period of time but he made a huge impression on me. The first time I saw that smile, it warmed my heart and made me feel so welcomed. George was kind, generous and an outstanding role model to all. I will always remember how he lit up a room with his uplifting spirit. It was an honor to have crossed paths with George and I know whenever I think of him a smile will appear on my face!
It is no secret that Mr. J was a source of comfort and inspiration to everyone at Salesian, as well as beyond our community. His smile was bright, his spark was contagious and he treated everyone like the most important person in the world. Above all, what really captivated me about Mr. J was his ability to be an amazing, loving, dedicated
father, while simultaneously being an amazing, loving, dedicated CYM and fellow Administrator. Mrs. Gabriel
Mr. “J” was one of the most wonderful people I had the pleasure to meet. He made everything ok. Always, happy, had a smile on his face and a hug if you needed it. He was my safety net when I needed it the most. What I loved most about George was he saw everyone for who they were and helped in any way he could. George didn’t see color, he saw the person. He was my voice when I needed it. He will always be part of my life and be forever missed and I thank him for helping me to see many people and situations in a different light.
Mr. J was a very big part of our school and especially to me. He meant a lot to me and to the others in the school. When I met Mr. J in freshman year I knew he was going to be a big part of my success in Salesian. He always had a smile on his face and always had a positive attitude. He always wanted others to be happy. Although we lost Mr. J, he is still with us here today watching over us everyday. I pray everyday for Mr. J’s family and friends. Until next time-PEACE!! Thank you Mr. J
Phillip Addario ‘22
Mr. J was and still will be one of my best friends here at Salesian. Not many people know this but Mr. J was actually the first person I met here on campus. I remember coming into the student lobby and looking at a room full of, at the time, total strangers. The only person I recognized was Mr. J from orientation. I went up to him and asked “Hey my name is Christopher Moronta and I want to join the choir.” Mr. J looked at me and said to himself, who the heck does this kid think he is? He asked me what I could do and I said I could sing and play piano.
So to see what he was dealing with J brought me into the chapel and told me to play something. And while we were there we just started singing and jamming out to the music together. Little did I know that that moment would change my life forever.
From that point on Mr. J and I worked very closely together. We worked in youth ministry together with service projects, music at NRG’s, school masses, and even retreats like Gospel Roads. Mr. J always put a place for me in his heart.
I remember on Christmas Eve having to go play the music for the mass at Salesian and Mr. J going out of his way to pick me up at my house to go to mass and drive me back home at 11pm. I remember when he invited me to his parish to participate at a concert and meeting his community. And I know these moments don’t sound like much but every time we worked together, joked, or even just talked, J would always lift my spirits up and tell me how proud he was of me.
For a kid with lots of stress, busy schedules, and a conflicted heart at the time these words meant the world to me. Mr. J taught me how to love myself even when I couldn’t. He taught me to stop stressing over the little things and make sure that whatever I do I do it with passion and heart.
Mr. J transformed an introverted, conflicted freshman into the confident hard working young man I am today. I owe J everything I have become and how far I have gotten because without him none of this would have been possible. Mr. J thank you for all the laughs, talks, and the memories. We all love you so much and until next time Peace.
Christopher Moronta ’22
During my freshman orientation, Mr. J had introduced himself and had brought this kind of life and joy to the room with his iconic laugh and how energetic he was towards the kids even though it was early in the morning.
Anyone could tell he truly enjoyed his job and loved being around us to make us laugh or give advice. He was the one person that anyone could go to about anything and he’d listen and help out as much as he could and it was always enough.
I remember personally when my grandmother died, he called the house personally to see how the family was doing and gave his condolences the day of the funeral. He even checked up on me the following Monday to see if I was doing okay. He will always have a special place in our hearts for all that he did for us and for how much he impacted our lives today.
Salvatore Bonasia ’22
Many of the most memorable moments I experienced with Mr. J were during his famous car rides. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. J at my middle school, Our Lady of Grace. During my years in middle school, I had signed up to play volleyball for my school’s team.
The only problem was that my parents had worked long hours in the city, which made it very difficult for me to receive transportation to my games. Luckily, Mr. J was kind enough to take me under his wing, and would drop me off and pick me up from my games. Now I will say that having car rides with Mr. J is one of the best feelings in the world, but having car rides with Mr. J along with 10 of my teammates is something I would never trade for the world.
Although we were packed like sardines in his gray Honda, the atmosphere within the car felt just like home. It wasn’t only because we all grew up around Mr. J, rather it was because within these car rides, we each learned something new about ourselves, and learned something valuable when Mr. J told his life-story to us through a variety of shared experiences.
That’s what we truly needed. Many of us came from backgrounds where he had no role models or anyone to look up too. However, Mr. J took on different roles for each and every one of us. For some the father we never had, and for others a big brother and at times even a best-friend. Mr. J always insured that no matter what was thrown at us in life, he was always someone who we could lean on.
Matthew McKoy ’22
Mr.J was one of a kind in the world that no one could ever replace. I remember when I met this man freshman year for the first time. He was starting at the school the same time as us, which made his relationship with the seniors now even stronger, especially me. Freshman year was a struggle for me since I was always stressed with school work and I worried about people’s opinion of me which made it worse.
When I met Mr.J, my life changed for the better. He would always see how I’m doing and could always count on him to be there when it came for support in sports or advice on life. He was someone that I looked to as a father figure and someone that pushed me to become the man I am today.
When it came to convincing me to go to mass in the morning, or reading for the school masses there was always an intention. He wanted me to build my relationship with new people and my relationship with God. He pushed even further by letting me go on the leadership retreat, which changed my life forever.
I will forever be grateful for him for giving me that chance. The one thing that I will remember the most is our conversation in September at the beginning of the school year. He told me, if you truly love someone, you have to love them for who they are and always be there for them. This is something that I would always treasure and to do my best to live out. I just wish I could say thank you to him one last time, and the dreams I have about him remind me to keep moving on in life.
Christopher Hart ’21