PROVIDENCE — “Phyllis Patricia Queally is the glue that holds this parish together,” said David Gray, who nominated the devoted parishioner for a Lumen Gentium Award in the category of Parish Service for continuously offering the gift of her time to St. Andrew Church on Block Island.
Gray, who has known her since 1954, shared that Queally is a very handy person, one often seen attending to the church’s physical properties, making minor repairs and mowing the grass, ensuring that the buildings and grounds are always well cared for.
“She is ubiquitous,” said Gray. “It will take four people to replace her! Hopefully, that is years away. Of all the women and men I know, Pat Queally is exceptionally worthy of this award.”
A member of the parish since childhood and following a full career as a first grade teacher in Queens, New York, she has spent her life as a member of St. Andrew Church.
“She is involved with every aspect of the parish short of the pastor’s duties,” said Gray. “She is a Trustee, a member of the Parish Finance Council, volunteers at Mass in all the ministries, for years a leader of the Catholic Charity Appeal and operates the Ladies Guild thrift shop. She is involved in every parish activity and fundraiser, usually in the lead role.”
Queally explained that her father gave her the foundation in Christian service and always encouraged her to serve the church, and she learned from his example.
“If we were coming out of church and my father noticed that there was a loose board he would go get his tools and mend it,” she said. “If something needed a little touch up he would paint it. I was like my father’s assistant. It just became what we’d do. When my father came to America from Ireland, he brought his faith with him.”
For Queally, her faith has also been very important — it’s her whole life. She explained that she continues to serve because from an early age, she learned that “God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”
“Religion has always been a big part of my life,” she said. “The people on the Island call me ‘the church lady’ because they see me going and opening the church in the morning and at closing it at night. When I was 11 years old, I would close the church at night. It grew from there. It’s been a second home for me. It gives a focus to your life.”
Over the years, Queally has found living on the eight-mile-long island to be very peaceful.
“It’s a special place,” she said. “You don’t have all the distractions you have in other places. Every day the water is different. It’s living with God’s nature day in and day out. It’s a beautiful and quiet place you can just live out your life and think about the future life with God.”
Serving at one of the most unique parishes of the diocese, St. Andrew Church, which is located one block from the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, has been a great joy for Queally.
“It’s just something I am happy doing,” she explained. “It’s nice when you are retired, you have more time to do the things you want to do. I don’t know how I had time to work because my days are full. You’re busy if that’s what you want to do and you can be happy that way. Be glad and happy with what you have, that’s the whole secret. Be satisfied enjoy what God gives you.”