One in a series on locals who serve our community
Michael Chirinchela, a life-long resident of Williamsburg for over 57 years has been active in his community for most of his adult life. He works with young people and supports his parish, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church (OLMC). His life’s central balance is his family which has supported his commitments to his career in leadership roles at United Parcel Service (UPS), civic obligations, and duties to his church.
As a member of Brooklyn Community Board 1 (Bk CB1), Chirinchela gives back to community and makes neighborhood better for all. He supports affordable housing and encourages efforts that keep long-term residents from being displaced. He has served on the Transportation Committee, tracks Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) developments, and the awarding issuance of liquor licenses to restaurants, the latter being a check on businesses whose operations prove problematic for neighbors. He has been happy to support traffic calming measures and improvements to ball fields, Cooper Park, and the McCarren Park Pool.
His family life is anchored by his wife Judy and children Jennifer, and Michael Jr. and granddaughter Andrea. His dad John, a tv repairman, and mom Margaret were major influences in his life. His mom has been active in community much of her life and worked at Swinging Sixties Senior Center where she brought in her old family recipes and culinary skills to create a warm, loving experience that fed a generation of community residents enjoying their golden years. His parents set the example of commitment to family, community, and faith that left the biggest impression on him. His family’s deep faith has been expressed in the active role several generations of Chirinchelas have devoted to OLMC.
While Chirinchela was active in Knights of Columbus, St. Cono Society, and his UPS union leadership work, he felt something was missing in his life. After retiring from UPS, Michael began the search for a deeper calling of service. Michael was inspired by his brother, Father Vincent Chirinchela, who has served as a priest and currently is pastor at St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church in Astoria. Through a long period of introspection, he felt beckoned to join the clergy as a deacon.
He was nominated to diaconate in 2014 by Monsignor Joseph Calliste, the then pastor of OLMC. According to Michael “the Diaconate is not a process it’s a vocation”. It’s Discernment and Study of theology for 6 years at Immaculate Conception seminary in Douglaston, Queens. Not only did he make this commitment, but in the practice followed by the Church, his family and specifically his wife, Judy, had to approve of his service as a deacon.
From that experience Michael stated that he learned to “See God in everyone and everything we encounter, and the people who encounter you will see God in you”.
Deacons have substantial responsibilities within the church today. They officiate at wakes, burials, and baptisms. In this role, Chirinchela also has devoted himself to a youth ministry within the parish. Together with priests and lay people, deacons are an important part of community life. Chirinchela believes his calling was “a perfect fit. The ministry gave me a whole and balanced life” he said.