Pastor Dan & Arise Community Church

Some of you guys may remember my pal Dan O’Leary, Lead Pastor at Arise Community Church. Dan was with our church a couple of Sundays last spring and was actually scheduled to preach at True North the week we cancelled services due to Hurricane Irene. That was a loss for us and we will remedy that this year.

Last month this article on Dan ran in the King’s Park Patch, and I thought it was worth sharing. Dan and the team at Arise are doing an incredible job and their potential as an organization is HUGE. True North is supporting them financially as they get off the ground and it goes without saying that I really believe in them.

I respect Dan for a number of reasons and among them is that he’s out there working a second job to supplement his income as a pastor. He’s not complaining about how bad things are, even though he’d obviously prefer to work full time at Arise. He’s doing whatever it takes to provide for his family. Huge thumbs up.

Here’s the article. Enjoy.

Pastor Dan Dishes Up Food, Family and Life

Relish waiter serves message of positivity through ministry and life.

To anyone who frequents Relish, the large waiter with the beard and tattoos is a familiar and friendly face.

“I stick out like a sore thumb,” said Dan O’Leary, 28, of Sound Beach. O’Leary started in July, one of the new hires as the former Mrs. Brown’s Kitchen changed hands and became Relish.

Co-owner Steve Cardello said he hasn’t had a chance to regret it.

“He’s got a big personality, which I think draws people to him,” said Cardello. “He’s a family guy, so he relates to people with young children, and he’s a lot of fun to have around. We have a good time when he’s here.”

Before O’Leary became part of the Relish family, he was busy raising his own. He has two kids, 3 and one-and-a-half years of age – “Irish twins” at eighteen months apart, he said, who will “never know a day without each other.” He lives with them and his wife, Daneal, his high school sweetheart. They’ve been married six years and O’Leary can’t get enough.

“Everyone tells me marriage is – wasn’t worth it or whatever; you should be careful. I just love it. I don’t know what all these warnings are all about,” he said.

O’Leary ended up at Relish through yet another family. He founded Arise Community Church in Port Jefferson Station, which meets every Sunday at the Port Jefferson Polish Hall. It was his worship pastor, Jake Dodge, who linked Cardello up with O’Leary as he was searching for a source of income to supplement his work as Arise’s pastor.

The church’s name explains O’Leary’s message.

“When you walk around, a lot of people just look bummed – beat up,” he said. “The message I wanted to send was, ‘We’ve got work to do. We’ve got to live brave lives. We’ve got to get up off the ground and stop being so negative all the time.”

O’Leary can see a connection between his ministry and his double shifts waiting tables. The relationships he builds through his church are what he considers most valuable about that experience, and the same goes for his time at Relish.

“I’m meeting these people and I’m getting to know their names, and I’m getting to know who they are, and we’re serving them great food,” he said. He called Kings Park a community of nice people who all seem to know each other.

“It’s hard to say ‘small town’ on Long Island, but I think that’s what you’ve got here,” he said.

When he tells customers to come back, it’s not just the food he is inviting them back for but an atmosphere true to the restaurant’s slogan, scrawled across the back of his shirt: Food, Family, Life.

“Families come here. We, the staff, are a family,” he said. “Life happens here.”

Trish L says:

Pastor Dan is setting an amazing example for all of us! What a man of integrity. I can see why the two of you are friends. :-)

Richie says:

Cool stuff! Thanks for sharing!