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Still Learning At Ninety-Five: An Interview

Palma G. is a lovely 95-years young Eucharistic Minister at a Catholic church in Staten Island- one of five boroughs located in New York City. The other boroughs are Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, and Manhattan. Palma is a “7 day a week in attendance for mass Catholic” as she so aptly puts it. The interview took place over the phone, being geographically impossible for me to have been in person since I don’t live in New York. However, I got to know a lot about Palma during our call, and she is a feisty, strong, dedicated and very much in love with the LORD woman. She has been a Eucharistic Minister only about five years now but loves the role of handing out “the Body of Christ” to those in mass. Let’s get right to the interview, I am sure you will enjoy her as much as I have, so without further ado here’s Palma G. God Bless.

CD: Hello Mrs. G- how are you today?

PG: No, please just Palma! I’m not that old! (Chuckles)

CD: Okay, no problem- Well Palma, thank you for agreeing to have me interview you.

PG: Are you kidding me? Thank You. I love being in print for the world to see how much life there is to live when you live it with God.

CD: So true! Amen!

PG: Just don’t tell them my last name, there are so many crazies in the world now, you never know –

CD: Okay, absolutely understand that -I’ll just use the last letter of your name okay. Palma tell me a little bit about who you are. Where you were born, your family and anything else you’d like to include.

PG: Well, let’s see. I’ve been around the block a couple of times. (We both laugh) I was born right here in Staten Island before the Verrazzano bridge was built, on September 10, 1928. My parents were Italian immigrants, that came over on the boat to Ellis Island. I was one of 8 siblings. All but one is still alive today. We live very successful lives and all have strong faith that our mom and pop put into us. You might say they scared us into it. We were so scared of going to hell, we prayed and never forgot to say our prayers at night. My grandmother would tell me, “The devil wants to take you away from God, the only way you can not be taken is by praying and going to church.” That was enough to scare me for life!

CD: Wow- I could see how that might scare a child!

PG: But it worked, didn’t it?  (Laughs)

CD: Did you go to Catholic schools?

PG: Yes, I did.

CD: Did that story about the devil pulling you under continue there?

PG: Yes-kind of did. The Sisters back then were strict and were allowed to smack knuckles of children with their rulers. And put you in the corner on your knees if you were disobedient or disrespectful.

CD: My goodness, I have heard stories from others that echo yours.

PG:  But for the most part, I loved it.  I have fine memories. I graduated from high school back at a time when very few people did. And I met my hubby, who is now since gone on to the LORD. His name was Andrew, and he was the handsomest man in the world, and filled with love and kindness to everyone. We had five children together. He said I was so beautiful, and that is why we had so many children!  (Laughing hysterically here.) Did I shock you?

CD: (Truly laughing so hard) No! Not at all. I think that is a sweet story and a sentiment of his love for you and your love for each other. I think it’s fantastic.

PG: Oh okay, because my children – who are no longer spring chickens, still cringe when I tell that story.

CD: I think no child wants to imagine their parents in that light.  Myself included, my parents were soul mates and crazy about each other, and my mom would sometimes tell how much my dad found her attractive – all siblings and I would yell – STOP!”

PG: (Laughing) I guess it is common for kids to feel that way.

CD: Did you have a career PG?

PG: Yes, I raised five children! That was the biggest career of my life. Each one rambunctious little snips. I had all to do to keep them in line. And the story about the devil and prayers didn’t scare them a hoot. They kept right on and ignored it.

CD: Are they faith driven?

PG: Yes, they are! Two of my boys are Pastors for a Lutheran church. It doesn’t matter to me where, I Believe Jesus is LORD and with him there really is no religion…just acceptance of who He is.

CD: That’s unusual your response. I’ve met with many Catholic people and a lot of my friends are Catholic and most (not all) feel that their church is the one true church. Your attitude is refreshing, and totally surprised me!

PG: Oh yeah, the majority think that their religion is the only way to heaven. Yes, that’s true, I just have an independent mind, always have had – and I know Jesus very well – and He doesn’t approve of that kind of nonsense. I’ve had many conversations with Him about this very topic! And He doesn’t like it!

CD: (Laughing) I personally believe you are correct in that analogy.

PG: Being Christian has gotten me through so much. One granddaughter has diabetes, and almost died. Another great grandchild had open heart surgery at 3 days old. I’ve been through some health crises and have gotten through it all only because of the LORD. Amen.

CD: Amen.

PG: I decided to become a Eucharistic Minister 5 years ago, when I was only 90. (Laughs) The reason? Well, I thought God still has a job for me to do. I come to daily mass and attend on weekends too. So, I may as well contribute handing out the eucharist. And so, I went to classes and am now enjoying this beautiful and sacred job daily. I feel like God was calling me to do it. You know some people stand off from taking it from my hands. Because a lot of people believe that only a priest’s hands are consecrated to hand out the body and blood of Christ.  And a lot of people don’t believe a woman should be a part of church services, not in any way other than maybe choir and music. Nothing else. Isn’t that the craziest and most sexist thing you’ve ever heard of?

CD: And so, you decided you’d become a Eucharistic Minister despite their views, or because of their views?

PG: I think a little bit of both if I’m going to be honest. And I don’t want to lie, because God doesn’t like liars. The devil is the biggest liar around – so I try to steer clear of that area.

CD: What is the best part of being a Catholic in your opinion?

PG: I love the reverence of the Holy Mass. I love receiving communion and knowing it is the body and blood of Christ. And I love confession. It is like a cleansing of one’s soul – like an exorcism so to speak. And then you are absolved from your sins by the priest who is standing in for Christ and doing it in Christ’s name. Oh – and I love the relationship with Mary. I love saying the rosary at night and during the weekday after mass. We have a little rosary group that stays afterwards and we recite the rosary, and pray for special intentions for those in need of prayers.

CD: It sounds like you have a huge role and love being Catholic. And most important, you love Jesus fully and completely.

PG: Do you believe in Jesus?

CD: Yes, I do. He is my LORD and Savior.

PG: Do you believe in any church in particular?

CD: I like how you’re interviewing me now? (Laughing)

PG: You didn’t think I’d let you get away without asking you questions did you now?

CD: (Laughing) PG from this brief interaction with you today, and the other day on the phone. I feel as if I’ve known you for years. So, no- I’m not surprised at your inquiries. And it’s all good.

PG: You’re ignoring my question young lady (laughing)

CD: Oh, let’s see. Do I believe in any church in particular I believe you asked. Well, yes, I do. I believe firmly and fully in the Church of Christ that is centered in all of us, as one body in Christ. The church is within each of us. And I believe in His Holy Word, and in the Doctrine of Christ and all His commandments. And I believe that we are all united in Christ in our belief of Him, doesn’t matter to me which church you attend. That’s your prerogative and that is between you and God. And He is my LORD and Savior.”

PG: Good answer my friend! Good answer!

CD: Thank you! Any parting words of wisdom to the younger people of today?

PG: Never give up on God, He will never give up on you! And always take time to read the Bible. I don’t care how long or where, just make sure you read it and know it. There will be a time where there won’t be any Bibles left for us to read. So, learn, now!  And it’s never too late to start something new. Look at me. And I’ve just signed on for Christian art classes.

CD: That is amazing PG, and you are amazing period!  It’s been a distinct honor and pleasure speaking with you. I will have you in my prayers and feel so blessed to have made your acquaintance.

PG: It’s been a pleasure for me too. Please may I stay in touch?

CD: Of course! I’d be thrilled, and vice versa.

PG: Okay, well I’ve got to go, my senior bowlers are waiting for me. We’re up for the championship. Say a prayer, we’ll need it. Nellie our star bowler, is a little under the weather right now. She’s a young one, 91.

CD: Okay! Will do. Let me know how it turns out. God Bless you in all you do.

PG: He does and is to this very day. God Bless you, take care youngster!

This concludes the interview. She was a delight and a firecracker. I loved this interview and enjoyed our interaction. If anything, she is living proof that age is just a number, and we are never too old to learn and to do new things. God will tell us when to stop, when he calls us home – and there is where we will begin to really live – Amen!

Isaiah 46:4 – And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you.

About C D SWANSON

C D SWANSON is an Author of 22 plus books, freelance writer, contributor to various websites, including The Bottom Line Ministries/Faith News. She's an active member of Faithwriters- and has her online website/ministry for over 15 years. It is her greatest joy to write what’s in her heart, and thus her favorite form of expression is in her devotionals. She and her husband share a deep love of God and dote on their fur baby Mickey. Retired Director from Long Term Healthcare Industry, she continues to be an advocate for many. To check out other writings of this author you can go here:

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2 comments

  1. Well Camille that sure was a fire cracker of an interview!! You handled it SO well my friend. I must admit there was some curly dialogue there. I may not have been so diplomatic and gracious as you were. Well

  2. Hello Jennifer,
    She was an amazing lady. It was fun and interesting speaking with her. Feisty and confident in her love of God. You would have done just fine Jennifer; you have an amazing way about you.
    Thanks for your comments,
    God Bless~

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