Diocesan News

Bishop DiMarzio’s First Virtual Christmas Luncheon


Event Focused on Supporting Diocesan School’s Ongoing COVID Costs and Youth Ministry Programs

WILLIAMSBURG — The central message throughout the first virtual Christmas luncheon presented by the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens (CFBQ) was clear: even during a pandemic, one can still get into the Christmas spirit and help support the diocese’s youth.

“We have seen an enormous increase in the need of our families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to cover tuition costs,” said CFBQ’s Executive Director John Notaro. “The emotional stress and the financial pressures on our schools have been significant — having to cover PPE expenses, additional teachers and aides needed for the social distanced classes, testing for COVID regularly, and more.”

Due to safety protocols, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio’s annual luncheon wasn’t held at its usual location at a large banquet hall in Howard Beach. Instead, it was broadcast live online from Annunciation Church, Williamsburg. 

Three students from St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy, Maspeth, brought the Christmas spirit to the event as they sang various Christmas carols. The front of the church’s altar was fully decorated in red and white Christmas flare, and the speakers and students wore masks and appeared socially distanced throughout the church.

Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, director of the Office of Parish Giving and vicar for Development, said a prayer and then reiterated the purpose of the event.

“As you know, every year the funds that are raised at this luncheon go towards the Catholic Youth Initiative, where we put in every parish a youth minister to work with our youth, to work with the young people, and to pass on the faith,” said Msgr. Gigantiello.

The Catholic Youth Ministry Initiative (CYMI) provides financial and spiritual support to diocesan parishes and youth ministry programs. In 2011, three organizations helped propel the program — donors to the Generations of Faith Capital Campaign, the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, and the Catholic Foundation.

Today, according to Notaro, the initiative serves more than 80 parishes and at least 4,000 young people in Brooklyn and Queens.