By Tablet Staff
The sixth annual Bishop Ignatius A. Catanello Memorial Mass and Scholarship Dinner, March 30, at the Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston set a new record for attendance as 350 people attended and more than $20,000 was raised. The event funds the Bishop Catanello Scholarship for students at Cathedral Prep School and Seminary, Elmhurst, where Bishop Catanello served as rector and school principal until he became an auxiliary bishop in 1994.
It is also an evening to celebrate the life of Bishop “Iggy” with many friends fondly sharing remembrances of him. “This is a night to share stories about Iggy,” said Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto, the main celebrant of the evening’s liturgy.
Msgr. David Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius parish, Bensonhurst, recalled his first assignment as a priest at St. Rita’s, Long Island City, where then-Father Catanello also was assigned. He said that the kids would play stick ball in the school yard and would occasionally hit a ball on the rectory roof. Father Cassato, being the new priest, would be given the task of retrieving the ball from the roof. On one occasion, he inadvertently locked himself out on the roof. He yelled down to the kids to get Father Iggy to rescue him.
“Whenever you are stuck somewhere and it seems like there is no way out, pray to Bishop Iggy to get you off the roof,” said Msgr. Cassato.
Thomas Flood, development director at St. Francis College, Brooklyn, and a friend of Bishop Iggy’s, said, “The world is small – and exceptionally special people like Bishop Iggy make it smaller. He touched so many lives – great admiration, appreciation and love for this treasured friend who I know is watching over all of us from above.
Iggy’s Spirit Lives Forever
“Know that I will always do what I can, where I can to celebrate St. Iggy! Bishop Iggy has more work to do. He (and we) will change more lives in his name so that all that we hold in our heart for Iggy can be shared with others.”
“Iggy and I had a very personal relationship, it’s very humbling,” said Angelo A. DiGangi, an honoree at the dinner. “Rather than focus on what it means to me, I think it much more pertinent to focus on what it means that Iggy’s spirt lives forever. Truly everyone he touched is a part of him.”
DiGangi recalled that Bishop Catanello officiated at his wedding and that “without him recognizing that you have to respect the love of the young, I wouldn’t have a family.”
PBA President Patrick Lynch, another honoree, pointed out that “our PBA First Vice President John Puglisi served as one of the bishop’s altar boys at St. Helen’s in Howard Beach. I would consider myself lucky to have one-tenth of the impact Bishop Catanello had in his ministry. I have heard from many, many officers who grew up or were educated in Brooklyn or Queens who were influenced by him.”
The evening began with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Chappetto and 10 concelebrants. In his homily, Bishop Chappetto explained that he regarded Bishop Iggy as a mentor after his own appointment as bishop.
An NYC Police Department’s bagpiper led the congregation from the chapel into the dining room. The NYPD Ceremonial Unit presented the colors and a police officer sang the national anthem. An awards ceremony honored prominent and worthy individuals for the contributions they have made in their professional, personal and business lives.
Angelo A. DiGangi was recognized as the Humanitarian of the Year; Thomas J. Principe was the Thomas More Award winner; Salvatore Ceravolo was Businessman of the Year; Patrick V. “Paddy” Lynch, the NYPD Police Benevolent Association President, was Man of the Year; Father James H. Sweeney was honored with the Cathedral Prep Lifetime Achievement Award; Peter Oppedisano, founder and owner of DiSano Industries was presented with the New York City Lifetime Achievement Award; and Richie Diaz, principal of Cathedral Prep, was the Educator of the Year. The keynote speaker was Judge Greg Lasak.
“There is no higher honor a lawyer can receive than the St. Thomas More Award,” said Principe. “And to have it at a dinner honoring Bishop Catanello, who was so devoted to service and helped so many people, it means a lot to me to be a part of that.”
Peter Petrino, former Grand Knight of the Bishop Catanello Holy Family Knights of Columbus Council and one of the founding members of the Bishop Catanello Dinner, presented two of the honorees with basketballs autographed by the legendary St. John’s basketball coach, Lou Carneseca. Guests at the event included 12 students from Cathedral Prep and their parents.
Bishop Chappetto expressed his appreciation to the Bishop Catanello Scholarship Captains Committee for their hard work in celebrating the life and times of Bishop Catanello and endeavoring to fund the scholarship fund.
Committee member, Frank Steele announced that next year’s Memorial Mass and Scholarship Dinner will be held April 18, beginning with Mass at 5 p.m. in the chapel at Immaculate Conception Center.