Sister Bernadette Clare Assante, OP, passed away on Sunday, July 18, at age 88. She had ministered devotedly in the field of education as a Sister of St. Dominic, Amityville, for almost 70 years.
Sister Bernadette was born Rosemary Assante on Christmas Day, 1932, in Woodside, Queens, to a family that was active in the parish of Mary Help of Christians.
Rosemary graduated from Bishop McDonnell High School and entered the Novitiate in August 1951. She received the Dominican habit and her religious name August 4, 1952.
Her first teaching assignment in 1953 was to join a group of sisters opening a new ministry — Incarnation School in Queens Village. She was also an elementary school teacher at St. Martin of Tours School, Amityville; St. Kilian’s School, Farmingdale; and Sacred Heart School, Cambria Heights. She later taught social studies at Dominican Commercial School, Jamaica, before her leadership gifts were tapped to become the principal at St. Martin’s School, where she served for six years. She earned her bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University, Jamaica, and furthered her professional education by achieving a master’s degree in guidance and counseling.
For 14 years, Sister Bernadette Clare was the heart of the guidance department at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School, West Islip, as chairperson. In the 1990s, she was called back to Dominican Commercial High School, first as a guidance counselor and then as principal from 1993 to 1997.
During her years as a teacher, student, and Dominican religious woman, Sister Bernadette was developing her own understanding of the qualities bestowed on by the order’s founder and preacher, St. Dominic. In her ministries in the educational field as well as working at St. Mary’s High School in Manhasset before her retirement in 2007, Sister Bernadette Clare was an active advocate for those in need, especially for young women. She was on the board of directors for Catholic Charities Regina Residence in Merrick.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Thursday, July 22. Interment in the Sisters’ Cemetery in Amityville followed the Mass.
Deacon Arthur Griffin, beloved husband of the late Ann T. Griffin, loving brother of Maureen Griffin and John Griffin, brother-in-law of the late Joan Griffin and Alice Quinn, dear adopted father of Sean Gannon, and cherished companion of Carmella Dolfi, passed away July 12 at age 79.
He was born on December 6, 1941, to Elizabeth & John Griffin. He attended St. Mary’s Winfield Catholic School in Woodside, Queens, and then graduated from Bishop Loughlin High School, Brooklyn. He entered into the Christian Brothers but later left to obtain his master’s degree from Manhattan College and Fordham University.
Deacon Griffin worked as a teacher at Christ the King Regional HS in Middle Village, Queens. After leaving, he worked at the Joseph P. Kennedy home, where he and his wife, Ann, helped find many working positions for children who lived there. He worked for many years as a counselor for Catholic Charities, helping people with addictions, homelessness and offering assistance to those in need.
Deacon Griffin was ordained a Catholic Deacon and was assigned to Transfiguration Church in Maspeth, Queens. There, he helped form Project HOPE (Help Our People Eat). There, he organized a great group of men and women to make sandwiches and deliver food to people on the streets of Maspeth, Elmhurst, and Woodside. He was able to get community groups and businesses to contribute to the project.
In his words, he was fulfilling Christ’s orders — “feed my people, take care of the poor.”
He was a proud member of the County Tyrone Society, marching in every St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Manhattan from age 5 through 77. He ran the New York City Marathon in his early days, continued to play softball with the over-70 group in Nassau County, and still bowled weekly with Catholic Charities. He leaves behind a loving family and many friends, extending from the U.S. to England, Ireland, and Spain.
A funeral Mass for Deacon Griffin was held July 19 at Transfiguration Church in Maspeth. Interment was held at St. Andrew’s Cemetery in Sag Harbor, N.Y.