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Bayside ‘Super Mario’ making leap to priesthood

Rev. Mario Menendez struck a chord among pirates, witches, demons and other Hallowe’en spooks who came out for tea and coffee with the parish vicar in McIvers.
Rev. Mario Menendez struck a chord among pirates, witches, demons and other Hallowe’en spooks who came out for tea and coffee with the parish vicar in McIvers. - Dave White photo

Driven to serve, ‘Super Mario’ surely gets around.

Rev. Mario P. Menendez, already lovingly nicknamed for the video-game character, leaps back and forth in his quest keeping faith and creating some fun in doing it.

Ministering to the Parish of Cox’s Cove and McIvers, the outgoing Mario becomes a fully ordained Anglican priest on Nov. 30.

With wife and family in attendance, he is one of three clergy who will be decreed by Archbishop Perry Coffin at St. John The Evangelist Cathedral in Corner Brook. Also anointed on the altar that Thursday will be Rev. Claire Stewart, deacon in Port Saunders on the Great Northern Peninsula, and Rev. Nath Larkin, deacon for The Parish of Forteau, Labrador.

Meanwhile, the real-life Super Mario, a master of theological studies, is amused and grateful for the welcome he received and continues to get since taking over from Rev. Joan Laing as deacon for St. Nicholas and Church of The Holy Epiphany this summer.

“I get it all the time,” he laughs of his new-found moniker. “The children ask me if I have a brother, Luigi.”

Nonetheless, the native of Puerto Rico come to Bay of Islands by way of eight years living and working in Boston, readily admits he “might have to get more arms (and hands)” to fully embrace his work and the off-pulpit fellowship he’s been courting in recent months.

Juggling normal obligations that include alternating regular 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday sermons at the two churches, ministering to the ill and aggrieved in hospital and in their homes, officiating at weddings and funerals, in addition to his administrative duties, he feels a personal call to be active in service of the broader public as well.

For one thing, he extends open invitations for parishioners and any visitors to the lower north shore to partake of an upbeat Tuesday afternoon social he calls “coffee and tea with the vicar.”

This week he entertained in McIvers, where he granted a media interview while washing the après-social dishes in the kitchen of the church local church hall where it is held. Personal service is something, he says, that he considers a necessary part of his daily devotion to his Christian heritage and to the local and area people, not all church-goers, who came out last Tuesday to share food and fun.

With many of them, including himself, dressed in Halloween costumes, he would gratefully dismiss offers to clean the dishes, instead sending all on their way, telling the volunteers “you do enough of this kind of thing already … you deserve a break.”

However, many appendages he may eventually come to sport, ‘Super Mario’ makes time as well to add his own “secret recipe” to the freely offered bi-weekly retreats.

Amid a selection of home-made desserts prepared by active church ladies and shared among the baker’s dozen who came out for coffee, tea and treats last Tuesday, the vicar’s special cake continues being a hit in both places, but its recipe remains under wraps.

The Tuesday socials, which are alternately rotated between the local church halls, have grown increasingly popular since they were started a few months ago.

“It’s getting bigger and bigger,” he said, adding that while the first few events attracted only women, men have more recently been showing up.

The good food and a little bit of music already shared at those events may soon also come to include a movie night as the weather grows colder outside and more people seek out warmer places to socialize, he said.

A musician himself who likes country gospel, rock and roll, a little jazz and reggae, bay side Super Mario sees a community guitar club that is also part of his socially minded action plan growing the same way. The guitar club welcomes new members at the St. Nicholas Church hall 6:30 p.m. each Thursday.

Children’s Sunday school and adult bible study remain an important part of secular and religious truth and understanding, but it also matters that “church is not confined to a building, but it is about service” (by the church and by individuals in the community), he concurs.

 

Dave White welcomes your Bay of Islands news and events information at 660-5712, or email at: bayofislands2008@gmail.com.

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