Dedicated to Service

  • 25 December 2010

“The temple really is a sanctuary where you can feel the Lord’s spirit.” –Mary Anne Ciccotelli

Tom and Mary Anne Ciccotelli’s first date was at the Washington D.C. Temple. Since they had met online, Tom saw the temple as a “safe” place, and he wanted Mary Anne to know how much the temple meant to him. 

“No matter how many times you go to the temple, you can still have an opportunity to learn something. There’s no place I’d rather be than in the temple,” Tom says. “It gives me great joy and pleasure to be able to play some small role in helping people achieve the goals they had as they came to the temple.”

Tom and Mary Anne, who were married in 1998, currently serve as ordinance workers in the Manhattan New York Temple.

Mary Anne says, “The temple really is a sanctuary where you can feel the Lord’s spirit.” When she steps inside, the bustle, noise, and hectic pace of the outside world are swallowed up in peace.

Even though Tom and Mary Anne have been married for 12 years, they still have Friday night temple “dates.” Every time Mary Anne drives in from suburban Pelham to meet Tom on date night, she is able to find a parking spot on the streets just a short walk from the temple doors. She can’t remember ever having to put their car into an expensive Manhattan parking garage (at least $30 an evening). She thinks of this as her own small miracle that helps with her temple service.

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Tom was converted to the Church during his first marriage and then discovered how much the temple meant in his life. He made regular visits to the temple when that required traveling from New York City to Washington, D.C. After his marriage ended in divorce, his bishop promised that if he would continue to visit the temple regularly, things would turn out well for him.

Mary Anne taught her daughters the value of temple attendance by her own example over the years of her first marriage and then as a single parent.

Both are constantly busy serving in one way or another. He is a high councilor in the Westchester New York Stake.  Mary Anne is first counselor in their ward’s Young Women organization. 

Tom spent most of one recent Saturday biking in Central Park with a group of Scouts from his stake. He was one of the planners of a 50-mile bike-a-thon that helped raise money to take a troop to the National Jamboree.

Mary Anne teaches young girls from their community to sew and quilt. It is her home business, but Mary Anne seems as concerned about passing on the homemaking skills as she is about making money.

Quilts representing six generations of her family have shown her how quilting and sewing skills can strengthen a family’s heritage. Sometimes she is invited to lecture about quilting.  “People don’t realize I’m sharing the gospel,” she says, as she talks about family history.

After the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City September 11, 2001, she felt moved to make quilts as gifts of comfort for families of the victims. The experience opened new horizons of personal service for her.

Tom has turned a life-long hobby into a way to serve. His model train layout in an upstairs bedroom of their home has a Christmas theme. During the holiday season, the Ciccotellis have an open house, inviting children from the ward and the neighborhood to enjoy the train exhibit with their families. There are cookies and hot chocolate, and all of the children go away with a small souvenir—a whistle, or a personalized ticket.

The Ciccotellis’ lives seem committed to helping others. “We love to serve,” Tom says.

Since their marriage in 1998, much of their service has been focused on their children, all now grown and living on their own. Tom and Mary Anne have six small grandchildren.

Tom says they were able to blend their family together because each of the three boys (his) and two girls (hers) had a strong spiritual foundation already, “and they saw what the gospel meant to us.” Being active in the Church and living gospel principles were priorities the Ciccotellis set when they were married.

Their children found rewards and enjoyment in getting to know each other. The boys were grateful finally to have sisters. The girls looked for and found advantages and blessings in their new situation. A week-long family camping trip early on helped them all learn to work together.