Crossing Over the Double Yellow Lines
By Fr. John P. Picinic
A number of years ago, I had the privilege of meeting John Ferraioli at the inception ceremony of David Brennan as a Lieutenant in the Fairview Police force. Dave introduced me to John that evening. We had a great conversation. As they say, you can know someone in 90 seconds or less. And in a short time, I knew that the man in front of me was genuine, sincere, and plainly put – good.
I remember that his concern was for his cousin who was suffering from cancer. He asked me to pray for her, which I did. But it was in the way he talked about her that moved me. He was very concerned and it was easy to see that this man had a big heart. I was also surprised that as a cop and as a man, that he would be that open in a first conversation. Usually as men, let alone police officers, we have an image to maintain, one that society has imbedded in us, and yet John was free and caring about who he was as a Christian man and not embarrassed to show his love for his cousin. I remember praying that night and thinking about how many good people God has put in this world and John was one of them.
I would talk with John on occasion and he was always pleasant to talk with. Each and every time we spoke, he always made prayer requests, mostly for his cousin, but also for all his family members, fellow friends, and his brother police officers. He never asked once for any prayers for himself. I thought this unusual, but I’ll get to that soon.
John and I had one funny run in. I was home visiting my parents for a few days. Every time I am home, my mother puts me to work, lo and behold once a son always a son. My assignment that day was to take my mom to the Shop Rite in Palisades Park. It was about noon. I dropped her off and then went to grab some lunch at Donna’s (still not better than Vincent’s in Cliffside Park, NJ). I ordered two slices to go and then headed back to the Shop Rite parking lot. As I was pulling out, I noticed no traffic on Broad Ave., so I did a no-no. I crossed over double yellows being too lazy to go to the intersection in front of me. I thought I was in the clear. Lo and behold as I made the right, the lights went on. I was being pulled over. I thought, Ok, I’m not wearing my collar, but I’ll say I know John Ferraioli. I’m his priest. Well, the police officer made me wait quite a bit. I was getting nervous. I figured, let me get my paperwork ready. As I was doing that, all of a sudden there was John with a big grin on his face and he said, “Father, you crossed over double yellows on Broad Ave.” I said, “Officer, I know this great cop named John Ferraioli, he will vouch for me.” We both got a good laugh and I remember now not to cross over the double yellows, not yet anyway.
Even then on the side of the road, John was putting in prayer requests for all his family members. I could not refuse since he let me slide on the ticket. I would have said them anyway.
I know that only very few people know this, but on occasion John would send in significant donations to my parish, simply because the Church needed it. He asked for no recognition, except again, prayers for others. What an amazing man, always praying for someone else.
John soon after left this world and I am sure that in the end the one prayer that was always on his heart and lips, that of love itself, greeted him and rewarded him for his generosity. Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God… and your neighbor as yourself.” John lived this commandment because his concern never pointed inward, but outward.
I know that my friend John now prays for me, and how can God refuse the prayers of someone so caring, generous, and compassionate? I know John continues to pray for his family and friends and what an advocate you have! John, my friend, I miss you, but my faith tells me that the time you pulled me over in Pal Park will not be the last time we meet, but when it is my turn, I hope to see the lights come on behind me and that it is you guiding me home, even if I have to cross over the double yellow lines.
Fr. John Picinic was ordained on Aug. 13th, 2005 by Bishop John Flesey at Our Lady of Grace Church in his hometown of Fairview, NJ. He is currently the Pastor of Holy Family in Sewell NJ and the Police Chaplain at Washington Township PD.