‘He has put his heart and soul into this mission that he’s granted by God’
MILL BASIN — Fifty years to the day of his ordination, Msgr. David Cassato was celebrated by his parishioners, fellow clergy members, and friends at a gala on Friday, May 27 that marked his retirement and included him receiving two high honors.
Msgr. Cassato, 75, recently announced his retirement as pastor of St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst, but his legacy will live on. The board of directors of St. Athanasius Catholic Academy announced that the academy will display his name outside the school entrance.
Another honor came when Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who praised Msgr. Cassato’s work with the NYPD, promoted him to assistant chief chaplain and presented him with his new badge at the gala. “We celebrate with thanksgiving Msgr. Cassato,” she said. “We view in the NYPD our chaplains as an integral and immeasurably important part of our family.”
The hall erupted in applause.
More than 1,000 people came to the El Caribe Country Club in Mill Basin to salute Msgr. Cassato for his five decades of service to the church, the community, and the city. In addition to his role as a clergyman, he has served as an NYPD chaplain for 21 years.
Msgr. Cassato, who was ordained on May 27, 1972, served over the years at St. Rita Church in Long Island City, the Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg and at St. Athanasius. His parishioners spoke glowingly of him.
“Monsignor is wonderful. He’s been a pillar in our parish,” said Janine DeFronzo, who has been a parishioner of St. Athanasius for 40 years.
DeFronzo, whose children attended St. Athanasius Catholic Academy, said she always admired Msgr. Cassato’s devotion to the school. “He’s always a strong presence in the schoolyard, praying every morning with us. It’s really touching,” she recalled.
Anthony Scotto, whose late parents, Carmela and Gerardo, attended Mass at St. Athanasius every day, said Msgr. Cassato offered heartfelt tributes to them at their funerals, something for which he remains grateful. “He’s a great guy. He’s known all over the five boroughs. Everybody loves him,” he said.
Scotto’s wife Catherine agreed. “He has put his heart and soul into this mission that he’s granted by God. He always puts that personal touch into everything he does. What makes him a very special human being is that he makes everyone feel loved,” she said.
The gala, organized by the 50th Golden Jubilee Committee of St. Athanasius, was hosted by a friend of Msgr. Cassato’s, Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
In his remarks, Msgr. Cassato recalled his childhood in Canarsie and how his family shaped him. “My family helped me throughout my life,” he said.
He also credited the Franciscan Sisters of Ringwood with inspiring his vocation. “I’m a priest because of them,” he explained. “I am happy as a priest — 50 years, no regrets.”