“Well done, good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful in little things, I will put you in charge of great ones, enter into the joy of your Lord ”(Mt 25: 23).
The Antonio Family and our monastery
We met the Antonio family in the spring of 1999, the first contact was with Paula (Ed’s wife) and two of her grandchildren (Eddy and Gabriela) who were walking near the monastery garden. We greeted them and gave sweets to the children. From that moment they began to frequent the monastery and offer their help.
Our dealings with them, particularly with Ed and Paula, were always very close, we came to consider them as part of our family, to such an extent that they were for us – especially the sisters who were not American – our “American Parents”, as we used to call them.
Their help was unconditional. We always knew that we could count on them because they were always available for everything we needed, from the smallest things to the biggest and most difficult to get. It is noteworthy that they were making monthly purchases for the monastery from 1999 to the present day, arriving every month with all the merchandise that we asked for and always with more than what we asked for!
Not only did they help us, but they told everyone they knew about us and tried to help us attain more benefactors.
Profile of Mr. Edward Joseph Antonio, II
Written by his son, EJ
A first generation American born on September 4, 1940, Ed lost his battle at home with COVID-19 on April 14, 2020. He was the childhood sweetheart and adored husband for over 60 years of Paula (née Pauline Dalton). Ed was the cherished father of Lynne (John Lonie) and E.J. (Maysa Pérez); treasured grandfather (“Bubba”) of Gabriella, Eddie Joe, and Andres, and triplet siblings John, Emily and Patrick. Ed leaves a sister, Ellen Quackenboss in Florida and nieces Tina Silverio in Massachusetts and Michelle Jacks in Illinois.
…For Ed, everything about Brooklyn and NYC was great! He was infatuated with its history, loved fishing in its bays, and was a proud ambassador. .. After graduating from Brooklyn Tech, he became a certified technician for Johnson Outboard Motors, repairing boat engines at Pete’s Marina on the Sheepshead Bay waterfront, while attending Pace University in the evenings to earn his bachelor’s degree in business. He was both extremely mechanical as well as a sharp businessman…
Ed lived an outsized New Yorker life. He was born and raised in Sheepshead Bay, moved to Marine Park to raise his own family, taking on a mega single-handed home renovation, and lived the duration of his retirement in Belle Harbor. Ed started his professional career with Standard Register in Manhattan, wearing a required fedora, after which he was at Best Foods selling products such as Hellman’s Mayonnaise directly to grocery stores across NYC. He then transitioned into pharmaceutical sales for GlaxoSmithKline calling directly on doctors’ offices, hospitals and wholesalers. Ed culminated his professional career as a sales executive, building Amgen’s national sales team before retiring. For his retirement hobby, Ed sold residential solar systems throughout NYC. Selling was his passion and challenge.
In addition to Ed’s devotion to his family, friends and neighbors, he prioritized community involvement and directly supported many Catholic organizations. Throughout his service, he was an active community member and was recognized for outstanding contributions to the New York Firefighters Burn Center, Marine Park Civic Association, Brooklyn Community Board 14, 63rd Police Precinct Council–including founder and leader of their teen Explorer group as well as an auxiliary police officer–and activist preventing the closure of Brooklyn’s Community Hospital. He was one of the initial founding members of the Flatlands Volunteer Ambulance and First Aid Corps, Scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 172, and other senior council positions for over a decade including spending summer weeks at Ten Mile River Scout Camp and earning the Bronze Pelican Award. He proudly served on the boards of the Brooklyn Historical Society and the New York State Council of Health-system Pharmacists. For his devotion to the Catholic Church, Ed chaired the first opening of Catholic Charities Flatlands Guidance Center; and, served on the parish councils for Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Mark, boards of Midwood Catholic Academy, Saint Edmund Preparatory High School, and Saint Mark Catholic Academy, second generation member of the Knights of Baron De Kalb and active officer of the Flatlands Lions Club—also an excellent annual Santa for visits to Brooklyn nursing homes and schools. Ed was a dedicated Knight of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem.
Perhaps his greatest mark on earth was his loving partnership with his wife. They were the “Ed & Paula” team who persevered even during their most difficult challenges, such as a full hit to their home and neighborhood by Superstorm Sandy. After the storm, they stayed in their home without electricity or their home heating system, keeping an eye on the homes of neighbors and feeding relief workers. Even in the golden years of their marriage, it was not uncommon for them to be seen holding hands just walking down the street. Together as “Nana and Bubba”, they never missed a performance for their grandchildren, including when invited to out of state college events. As a combined life’s work, Ed and Paula adopted the Contemplative Nuns of the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará at the Monastery of Saint Edith Stein in Brooklyn, and provided endless support of love, service and subsistence. Ed was the best joke teller and loved the average person. To all, he made each one of us feel welcomed, cared for, and special.
On the night of Ed’s passing, over 60 of his caring Bell Harbor neighbors paid tribute to his kindness with a candlelight ceremony. As a grand finale, a neighbor sang “How Great Thou Art” in Ed’s honor.
The Catechism of the Church teaches us that “Virtue is a habitual and firm disposition to do good. It allows the person not only to perform good acts, but to give the best of himself. With all his sensitive and spiritual forces, the virtuous person tends towards the good, looks for it and chooses it through concrete actions ”.
“Human virtues are firm attitudes, stable dispositions, habitual perfections of the understanding and of the will that regulate our acts, order our passions and guide our conduct according to reason and faith. They provide ease, dominance, and joy in leading a morally good life. The virtuous man is the one who freely practices good”.(CCC 1803-1804)
1. Kindness, generosity and forgetfulness
His kindness was genuine and totally disinterested, he liked to do good, but always remain anonymous; and although he was a very affable person, at the time of doing good to someone, he did not usually say many words, but he acted with great discretion.
His goodness also stands out even in details. For example, he was easily moved before the suffering of others, he had what is said in common language “a heart of gold”.
He also sought to make others happy, an example of this is how every year he dressed up as Santa Claus and came to the monastery with his gift bags for all the sisters.
His generosity was unconditional and universal, that is, he was willing to give to everyone and always without distinction, that is why he also had countless friends.
2. Love of God and neighbor
We consider his love of neighbor not just philanthropy, but an authentic love for God that also led him to love his neighbor, and we are convinced that he did not help us but Jesus himself in His Spouses.
During the 21 years that we knew him, we never saw him angry at having to help us, upset about something we asked him to do, or even giving us something in a bad way, or uncaring. No philanthropy could substitute for the authentic and beautiful virtue of charity, which, as it has its root in love for God, participates in a certain way in the immutability and divine strength.
As a conclusion, our tribute, our most sincere thanks and farewell to him who knew how to win our affection and filial affection.
His memory will be imprinted on the history of our monastery and on our souls.
SSVM Sisters of the Saint Edith Stein Monastery
Brooklyn, New York, USA