HOWARD BEACH — The annual Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon has become a major event on the diocesan social calendar.
Almost 900 people joined Bishop Robert Brennan at Russo’s on the Bay, Howard Beach, on Dec. 7, and more than $300,000 was raised to help Catholic school students pay tuition and to assist the Diocese’s Catholic Youth Initiative.
“This is the premier event that helps kick off the Christmas season in style,” Bishop Brennan said. “We have a diocese that is fully alive. The people who are here today are involved in so many ministries in our Church.”
Bishop Brennan said that during the recent diocesan-wide synod consultation with parishioners, he heard about a concern for the young people in the Church. So, he was proud to be part of an event raising money for Catholic schools and parish youth activities.
“The proceeds from today’s event will support families in need in our Catholic schools and academies and youth ministers reaching out to the young people of our diocese to help them encounter Jesus and grow in their faith,” explained Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, vicar for development in the diocese.
He added that every year, the Futures in Education program assists 4,500 students with their tuition needs.
Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello announced the Futures program has set a goal of adding 91 new donors to its “Be An Angel” program to honor the 91st birthday of long-time benefactor Joseph Mattone.
Honorees for the event were Auxiliary Bishop James Massa, Frank DeRosa, and the Kirby, Pfohl, and Quigley families.
Bishop Massa, the rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, received the St. John Paul II Distinguished Stewardship Award. He has been involved in campus ministry and the education of men for the priesthood for many years. He expressed being honored to receive an award named for the former pope since it was John Paul II who greatly inspired him to become a priest.
DeRosa was presented the Emma A. Daniels Award, named for one of the founders of the diocese’s Alive in Hope Foundation, now known as the Catholic Foundation for Brooklyn and Queens, which sponsors the Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon.
DeRosa worked in diocesan communications for over 50 years before retiring in 2008. He was the media spokesman for Bishops Francis J. Mugavero, Thomas V. Daily, and Nicholas DiMarzio, as well as the associate publisher of The Tablet for Bishops Daily and DiMarzio. He was also a member of the original planning committee for the Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon when it was started by Bishop DiMarzio.
The Kirby, Pfohl, and Quigley families were honored with the Spirit of Hope Award for supporting the Catholic Foundation of Brooklyn and Queens.
They are the owners of Plaxall, a third-generation family-run business based in Long Island City that has supported many worthy community organizations, including Hour Children, founded by Sister Tesa Fitzgerald.
Tenor Christopher Macchio performed several Christmas carols; WINS reporter Juliet Papa, who attended Catholic schools in Queens, was the mistress of ceremonies; and Mary Ann Mattone served as the Luncheon Chair.
Students from Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst, conducted the raffle.
St. Helen Catholic Academy’s Children’s Choir performed before the luncheon and reenacted the Nativity story during the program.