Parents of Late Diocese of Brooklyn Priest Donate to Bright Christmas Campaign

Tags: Currents Brooklyn, NY, Faith, Inspiration, Queens, NY

By Jessica Easthope

The first thing you see when you walk into Lou and Joan Gancila’s house are toys. They belonged to their son, Joseph, or as he was known in the Diocese of Brooklyn, Father Joe.

“His love for the children and the way he made them feel on Christmas, they would start asking him in September who’s coming to Christmas and he would say I’ll never tell,” the couple said.

Father Joe used the toys every Christmas as a way to relate to the children at his Masses, right up until Christmas of 2019, 10 days before he died.

“I couldn’t believe it, sometimes we still can’t believe it we just expect him to walk through the door, you’re not supposed to be burying a child,” they said.

Like Father Joe, his parents know how impactful toys can be in a child’s life, which is why they’ve been donating to the Tablet’s Bright Christmas campaign for more than 25 years.

“The people of the Diocese of Brooklyn are special to us because that’s our home and when we get the mailing every year it’s like yes, absolutely,” said Lou.

Joan and Lou have since moved away from the Diocese of Brooklyn and their home parish the Basilica of Regina Pacis.

“We’ve attended there all our lives, we saw the church being built, we received our sacraments there, we saw our children married there and our son celebrate his first mass there,” Joan said.

But for them it will always be home.

“Anytime we go back to visit our son we have that feeling we’re home, this is our home, we go to church here and it’s fine but that is our home, our roots were there and in a way they still are,” they said.

And giving to Bright Christmas is a chance to make that home a better place for those who really need it.

“If we have the ability to help those people, we want to do it and Bright Christmas is one of the charities that we use to give us a little satisfaction that we’re giving back to those who aren’t as fortunate as we are,” Lou said.

Losing a child changed the Gancila’s forever, but their faith and connection to the Diocese of Brooklyn has sustained them.

“We still get The Tablet and we see all the letters that say thank you so much for donating and for what Bright Christmas gave to us and that makes us feel good,” said Joan.

And with a new year and a higher goal, the Gancila’s are giving a little more.