Our Lower and Middle School community celebrated our fathers and father figures during our annual Fathers’ Lovefeast service, held in Central Moravian Church on Wednesday, October 23rd. Through beautiful music (provided by our Fourth Grade Choir, Seventh Grade Handbell Choir, Middle School String Ensemble, and Middle School Chorus), prayers, readings, and short speeches, students and faculty offered words of adoration and gratitude both to and about fathers.
Our featured guest speaker, Mr. Louis Cinquino – father of Lucia Cinquino ’24, Eve Cinquino ’24 and Maya Rodale ’00 – spoke on the importance of celebrating both what unifies us as a community and what makes us unique as individuals.
Listen to Mr. Cinquino’s speech:
I have sat through enough Father’s Lovefeasts to know I have two primary jobs here today:
1) to not embarrass my daughter
2) keep things moving and get to the cookies as quickly as possible. So let’s see how I do.
I love to play games. Do you? And I really like making up new games.
Lucia and I used to do this all the time when we were at a restaurant waiting for our food to arrive. We’d look around and just make up a game using anything that was on the table. Napkins, sugar packets, tableware became pieces of a puzzle, a makeshift Jenga pile, or parts of a game board. We even had a game where we’d make mosaics out of wonton noodles. So that’s basically what I’d like to do today as we are waiting for those cookies to arrive. Let’s play some games that help us see each other—and those cookies—in a new way.
Here’s the first one…Let’s call it “Blurry Eyes.” Squint your eyes so that everything looks blurry—- and look around the chapel and think of something it now looks like. It’s kind of like looking for shapes in the clouds.
So what are you seeing? What I see is The Jersey Shore—- you have become an ocean of blue blazers and the organ in the balcony has become a mini rollercoaster.
This game shows us that what we see depends on how we look at the world. What we were looking at didn’t change when we squinted our eyes. Your blazers did not suddenly turn into ocean waves, did they? The organ didn’t actually change into a roller coaster— although I kind of wish it did! All that changed is HOW we looked around the chapel. And that changed what we saw. Or what we imagined we saw.
The next game is called “Embarrass Your Daughter.” Wait, let’s skip that one.
Let’s play “What’s the Same? What’s Different?” With Lucia at the restaurant, one of us would close our eyes and the other person would move something on the table. Then they would open their eyes and try to determine what had changed.
I’m not going to run around and rearrange the chapel, so let’s play it this way. Turn to the people you are with today, and really take a good look at them. Up and down, look them right in the eyes, see what they are wearing, what their faces look like. Smile, growl, make a funny face. Whatever, just look at them. Now close your eyes. What can you remember that’s the same between you? What’s different? Maybe your hair is different than theirs? Or you are wearing the same color shirt. Are you both wearing two socks?
Open your eyes. Take another look. You will probably find you now see more things that are the same and more things that are different. It all depends on what you are looking for.
In our family, we have three daughters. All not the same. And not different. They were all born in Allentown, but two were born in the 19 hundreds! That’s a long time ago! None of them have a middle name, but one has a daughter of her own who has FOUR names!
They are all here today, which is probably the most incredible Dad moment I’ve ever had outside of a delivery room. Maya graduated from the Upper School with the Class of 2000. She lives in New York and has written more than 20 books, mostly romance novels. Eve graduated with the Class of 2015. She is really good at math and knitting and spent her summer living on a glacier in Alaska. And Lucia is in the class of 2024. She has a beautiful singing voice and a great sense of humor. She lives with me half the time, and with her mom half the time.
So for those of you who do math very quickly, you already figured out my daughters are 24 years apart. Which is why this is my 17th—and final Father’s Lovefeast. I’m so proud of all of them (that’s the same) and try to appreciate them each for what they are—which is very different.
I’m also very proud of my parents. And like my kids, they were also not the same, but not different. My father died a few years ago, he was 94. He was always looking for what he had in common with anyone he’d meet. He was a World War II veteran, and believed that finding common ground brought us together as a family, a community, a nation and as a world of diverse peoples.
Now my mom had a different take. She looked for what was unique: Her number one rule for us was that we be ourselves, no matter what our friends did or what people would say. She had a simple, easy to remember motto to help us stay unique: TB. Too Bad. She’d say “If someone was making fun of you, Tell them TB. Too bad. Who cares what you think!” It was more important to her that we be ourselves than it was to just go along with the crowd.
So I’ve tried to take both lessons– from my dad—that we can always find something in common with each other and from my mom—that we are all unique — and bring it to my own family.
Last week, after a beautiful long life of 98 years, my mom passed away. She was blessed with a long and happy life and her share of cookies.
In fact, at the first Fathers’ Lovefeast I ever went to with Maya, when I saw them bring out the cookies wrapped in a little napkin, I immediately thought of my mom. Because whenever she would go to a meeting at the church, it was an Italian church, so they would usually serve cookies—and she would always wrap up a couple and bring them home to me.
Cookies wrapped in a napkin. That’s the whole point of the lovefeast, right? Sorry, apple juice, We all know the real reason we are here today is that cookie. Salt, sugar, eggs, flour, milk, and baking soda, I’m told. Each cookie made from the same basic ingredients cooked at 350 degrees for 11 minutes.
And yet, the salt in your cookie probably came from a completely different salt mine than the salt in my cookie. The sugar, flour, eggs, and milk in your cookie most definitely came from different plants and animals than mine. I didn’t have time to Google where baking soda comes from, so who knows about that.
So I think of those cookies when I look out there today in this sea of blue blazers. A lot of us look different, act differently, believe different things. But we are also the same in many ways when we put aside our differences and look closely enough.
That common ground, that sameness, is what will get us past our differences—to the sweet rewards of teamwork and success. Yes, Benigna—you were right. It is the cookies that will save us.
Which brings me to this box. My mom lived far away and never got the chance to be at a lovefeast, but I wanted her to be with us today—so like she would do for me, I smuggled this box of homemade Italian cookies from her memorial service on Monday and am offering them here to Reverend Nichols to share with a few faculty and staff. I know my mom would be happy to have these cookies remind us that, to paraphrase the Gettysburg Address, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what we ATE here.”
For the grownups out there, I have the perfect time for us to play this game—tomorrow and Friday when we meet with teachers and get progress reports about how our students are doing.
Rather than zeroing in only on the areas where our students are falling short, how about we start by asking “What is my student doing well?, or “What strengths is she using in class and with her friends?” I have found that looking for what my daughters’ strengths is really the best way to say I SEE YOU to them. So that every day can be a love feast, with or without cookies.
Thank you for sharing your attention with me today, and truly, my eternal gratitude to Mr. Zemsky and Rev. Nichols for letting me gently coerce my daughters to actually sit here and listen to me for 10 minutes without interruption—I can honestly say I’ll never forget this day as long as I live. Most of all, thank you to the school that we all cherish, for 17 years of not the same, not different Lovefeasts filled with incredible closeness with my daughters in this ocean of blue blazers, love, and understanding we call Moravian Academy.
Watch the full Fathers’ Lovefeast: