Below is a link to an article called “The Cross Carriers” from the May/June 1963 issue of Faith at Work magazine. The article is about my father, Vinnie DiPasquale, and some of his friends, including Harv Oostdyk and Bill Milliken (the author). Together they ministered to gang members and other youth on the lower east side of Manhattan. My dad is the young man in the cover photo with the bald head. One of the other guys is named Harv Oostdyk. Harv’s brother is my step-dad’s best friend. The Oostdyks met my father through the ministry of Young Life in northern New Jersey.
After my father died, the Oostdyks sent my step-dad to check on the grieving widow, whom he’d never met. They were married a couple years later. My parents had also met through Young Life. Mom was the only child of older middle class Lutheran parents. Dad was the oldest male in a Catholic, single-parent family of six children. He grew up in poverty in Newark, NJ, and was an undefeated Golden Gloves boxing champion, a gang leader, a thief, and a drug addict before he met Jesus through Young Life. Mom didn’t know what she was getting herself into, eloping with someone ten years older who had a lot of history. (History sometimes repeats itself in a struggling sinner’s life.)
We attended a Presbyterian church when I was a little girl. My father was the janitor and worked with youth. I’m not sure why, but we stopped going to church when I was in early elementary school. Just before he died, my father told my mother that they needed to “get right with the Lord.” She wasn’t interested. He began attending a little Baptist church on the corner of our street in Point Pleasant Beach. When he died, the students at Manasaquan High School dedicated their yearbook to the 41 year old janitor who went to work with a purpose—reaching out to youth.
It was after Vinnie died and my step-father came along that we began attending my home church. Although I’ve never been involved in any ministry of Young Life, I’m grateful to the organization for planting the seeds of a spiritual heritage (and for the matchmaking).
A couple things strike me about the article. First, the emphasis on spiritual disciplines—even if they are a bit hokey. Second, the leniency in alcohol usage (notice the list of commitments club members vowed to keep). Third, finding out in the last few paragraphs of the article that my dad was ministering out of Trinity Church on Wall Street. Trinity Church stood like an untouched beacon surrounded by the carnage of 9/11, and, along with
the church across the street a nearby church where my friend Mary Davis coordinated ministry to rescue workers for Calvary Chapel, provided a place of respite throughout the relief efforts. Trinity Church was also the springboard site of a citywide prayer revival early in the 1900s. It is an Episcopal church. I thought I had no formal connection to the Anglicans we’ve been worshiping with. It makes me smile to think they were a part of my family heritage all along.
The article might be a little hard to read; couldn’t figure out how to enlarge it. Scan to the last few paragraphs if you can’t see much else.
To read about the history of the Faith at Work organization, click below. There’s an interesting note tying what God was doing through the Jesus movement with what my dad and his friends were doing on the lower east side of Manhattan:
[note: Jeff’s Bible study on Psalm 1 is in the works for tomorrow.]