BENSONHURST — Msgr. David Cassato wears many hats in his busy life, including pastor of St. Athanasius Church, chaplain for the New York Police Department, and vicar for Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Brooklyn.
How about a new title — The Dear Abby of the Catholic Church?
Dear Abby, the famous advice column, has nothing on Msgr. Cassato, the star of “Ask Monsignor Dave,” a video project in which he answers the public’s questions.
“I’m enjoying it. And I think it’s a good way to bring people closer to the faith,” he said.
People submit questions to Msgr. Cassato, who picks one at random each week and answers it via a video that he posts to his personal Facebook page.
Unlike Dear Abby, Msgr. Cassato doesn’t usually dispense advice on fixing broken romances or repairing fractured friendships — although one woman asked him how Catholics can obtain an annulment.
“I don’t know if I’m the Dear Abby of the church. I like to joke that I could star in a show called ‘Real Housewives and Monsignor Dave.’ That’s a catchy title,” he said.
People submit all sorts of questions on a variety of topics through his Facebook page.
“They ask me about the liturgy, about the color vestments priests wear, even things like why we pray. I do the best I can to answer them,” Msgr. Cassato said. “I think it’s important that people feel they can come to me and ask me anything, anything at all.”
On occasion, someone will throw a philosophical question at him: “I get asked a lot, ‘Why do bad things happen in the world?’ There are times when I get asked things that are difficult to answer. I have to stop and think.”
The “Why do we pray” question was posed by his 6-year-old grand-nephew.
The Ask Monsignor Dave videos prove to be quite popular, with one recent video garnering more than 2,000 views.
Msgr. Cassato hopes to use his videos as an evangelization tool. “If it makes people interested in the Catholic faith, that’s good,” he said.
He started “Ask Monsignor Dave” in October, getting his inspiration from the “Father Dave Answers Your Questions on Faith” segment featuring Father Dave Dwyer on the “Busted Halo” show on Sirius XM’s Catholic Channel.
“I heard that and thought, ‘Why can’t I do that?’ I thought it was something that would work well,” Msgr. Cassato said.
If he were to ask himself a question on “Ask Monsignor Dave,” it might be: “How do I juggle so many responsibilities?”
Msgr. Cassato has been the pastor of St. Athanasius and an NYPD chaplain for several years. He is also a member of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst. In July, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio tapped him to serve as vicar for Catholic Schools. This role saw him work with education officials in the diocese to reopen schools in the fall amid the pandemic.
“I like keeping busy,” he said.
Editor’s note: To view a video of Msgr. Cassato answering an “Ask Monsignor Dave” question, visit: https://www.facebook.com/186946504789513/videos/781551012627334