CONEY ISLAND — Pasqualino “Pat” Russo has finally been installed as president of The Cathedral Club of Brooklyn. Although he has officially served in that position for the past year, he was never sworn in because of COVID restrictions on social gatherings.
But on Monday evening, June 21, at Gargiulo’s, Coney Island, the ceremony was held, with Kings County Supreme Court Judge Vincent DelGiudice presiding.
Since the term of the president is usually only one year, Russo was asked to serve a second year since Club activities had come to a halt during the pandemic.
In his remarks, Russo reminded members that The Cathedral Club has been doing charitable work since before the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1917. It was founded in 1900 by Father George Mundelein, who later became Brooklyn’s first auxiliary bishop and then Cardinal-Archbishop of Chicago.
“Our mission is the same. It has remained consistent,” he explained. The Club assists the Bishop of Brooklyn with charitable endeavors, especially today, with providing scholarship funds to students in Catholic schools.
On hand were two of the three rising high school sophomores who will receive $4,000 in each of the next three years to offset tuition costs. They are Andrew Hernandez, St. John’s Prep, Astoria, and Saniya Lester, Nazareth Regional, East Flatbush. A recipient will be named later from Christ the King, Middle Village, who was represented by the school’s new principal, Joseph Arbitello.
Two Xaverian students also were awarded grants — the Robert Charles Golden Scholarship to Claudia Bayard, and the Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio Scholarship to Saracen Jackson. A grant also went to St. Edmund Prep, to be split between Gerard Rehill, a past recipient, and a student to be named.
The installation doubled as the club’s annual Speaker’s Night, with Msgr. David Cassato, vicar for Catholic schools, calling the last two semesters “one of the most incredible years for Catholic schools.”
“I’m proud to say that we have been open every day since Sept. 9,” he said. “I’m very proud that we were open, thanks to the faculties and staff who worked heroically to stay open.”
He explained some schools, like St. Francis de Sales, Belle Harbor, increased enrollments because public schools were closed most of the time. The Queens school boosted its numbers from 500 to 700 students, in spite of the good reputation of public schools in the area.
“Some schools even have waiting lists,” Msgr. Cassato noted.
He pointed out that each year, for the past 10 years, he has collected $40,000 in scholarship monies in the name of his late mother. He urged pastors to tell their congregations when they need help and the people will respond. And he asked donors “to help the needy and to give with your heart. God will repay you hundreds of times when you help a kid.”
Msgr. Cassato also spoke about his service as a chaplain for the NYPD.
“Cops are having a real hard time these days,” he said. “Keep the police in your prayers. Support the police.”
After a year of social distancing, the Cathedral Club, along with the rest of the city, appears to be back in business.
“We’ve made it through COVID,” said Msgr. Cassato. “Be safe. Take care of yourselves.”
President Russo said plans for the Club’s annual fundraising gala in 2022 are moving forward with details to be announced later.
Taking the oath of office along with Russo, a Brooklyn attorney from St. Anselm’s parish, Bay Ridge, were Vice President Antonio Biondi, who was not present; Brian Baslin, recording secretary; and Richard Re, treasurer.