I have a friend who died in 2008 who I would like to remember this month. He has helped me a lot in my vocation. Maybe he will help you in yours.
Greg was born November 6, 1977 in Philadelphia. Soon he moved to Cherry Hill where his parents raised him and his younger siblings. He went to St Peter Celestine for grade school where he excelled in academics, soccer and baseball.
As high school approached, he asked his parents to send him to Bishop Eustace where one of his childhood heroes had gone. He went and continued to maintain his enthusiasm and work ethic. He received numerous awards at graduation for his quietly accomplished grades and Christian character.
In college, Greg majored in Special Education at Seton Hall University. It was a great fit – he really enjoyed working with students of various backgrounds and abilities. After graduation, he taught and coached at the high school level. Though he really enjoyed working with the students, he eventually made a decision to change fields.
In 2002, Greg acted on a longtime interest of serving the country. He signed up for ROTC at Seton Hall and studied for a Masters in International Relations. He became a highly respected leader of his battalion of cadets and was commissioned an Army Officer (Infantry) in 2004.
After his training, Greg was stationed in Germany. In 2006, he deployed to Iraq as a platoon commander. In 2008, he re-deployed as the officer in charge of another important mission. During that mission, he heroically gave his life for our country. He was respected throughout the unit for his proficiency, positivity, and genuine care for others.
Greg deeply impacted a lot of people by the numerous ways in which he loved. Whether through his joyful and enthusiastic greetings, generosity and thoughtfulness with words, time and gifts, or patient selflessness and courageous integrity, Greg made others feel loved.
One of the ways he did this most was through gratitude. While deployed, he wrote a Christmas letter to his family where he told each of the nine of them what he appreciated about them. (A link to it is below.)
To me, Greg was and remains an unconditionally loving friend. One who chooses to laugh off my faults and instead find a way to encourage me.
Greg was a faithful Catholic. His faith in Christ was lived as he followed his servant example throughout his life. He attained to a high degree the traits that many of us are seeking to develop or deepen in seminary: gratitude and forgiveness, love and kindness, knowledge and acceptance of self, humility and a good sense of humor, all of which are grounded in belief in and reception of God’s love and mercy.
Greg also had amazing self-discipline, which we have been told is one of the most important qualities for a priest to have. In addition to study and service, this included time to enjoy the goodness and beauty of life through things like music, sports, and adventures. It also included seeking the help of the Blessed Mother as he prayed the Rosary.
May Captain Gregory Dalessio’s example inspire us as we discern God’s will in all things, especially our vocations.