The Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, community gathered May 1 at El Caribe Country Club, Mill Basin, for the fourth annual Spirit of Xaverian Gala to celebrate alumni members who have made a difference since leaving the halls of the Shore Road school.
Nearly 550 guests attended, and four honorees were recognized for their professional and volunteer work.
Xaverian graduate and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer Chris Mullin, ’81, received the Spirit of Xaverian Award, presented to an individual who demonstrates the spirit and values of the Xaverian brothers.
“Chris Mullin clearly embodies the Spirit of Xaverian,” said Robert Alesi, ’78, president. “He set the standard for excellence as a basketball player, but his greatest attribute is his loyalty, to his family, his friends, and, tonight, to Xaverian.”
A two-time Olympic gold medalist who played for the 1992 “Dream Team,” Mullin grew up in Flatbush attending St. Thomas Aquinas parish, Flatlands. After Xaverian, he starred at St. John’s University, Jamaica, and is still the Johnnies’ all-time leader in points scored with 2,440.
“When you plant a seed in a young kid, you never know when it will bear fruit,” Mullin said. “The teachers at Xaverian did that for me a long time ago, and it’s borne fruit and will continue bearing fruit. We need to pass that on for the kids behind us.”
Distinguished Alumni Honorees
Nick Vendikos, ’87, K.H.S., received the Bernard McQuillan Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes the professional accomplishments of Xaverian alumni. He serves as the director of development for the Catholic Foundation of Brooklyn and Queens and Futures in Education.
Also a St. John’s graduate, Vendikos spent five years as Xaverian’s development director. He has held numerous posts in the Brooklyn Diocese and currently chairs the development committee of the diocese’s “Preserving the Vision” plan for Catholic education.
Vendikos thanked his late mother, who he said sacrificed so much to put him through Catholic schools his whole life. He said he hopes he can provide the same opportunity to kids that his mother provided him.
“I’m an only child; I feel like I have a thousand Xaverian brothers that are like my brothers, especially my high school classmates,” Vendikos said. “Xaverian molded her alumni into men of faith and taught us that service above self isn’t a bumper sticker but a way of life.”
Vendikos and his wife Ismini are also Genesis parents, with their twin 12-year-olds Nicholas and Katerina enrolled in Xaverian’s Genesis Program – the middle school which shares the high school’s facilities.
Frank Desiderio, ’65, Esq., – a founding partner of Grunfeld, Desiderio, Lebowitz, Silverman & Klestadt LLP, a law firm concentrating on customs and international trade law – and Henry Spinelli, ’74, M.D., – a clinical professor of surgery and neurological surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center – also received the Bernard McQuillan Distinguished Alumni Award.
The theme of the evening was “What if…” with the purpose toward helping future Clippers achieve the same level of success someday as the gala’s honorees. A preliminary six-phase improvement plan includes enhanced facilities for both the high school and middle school as well as measures for greater opportunities for current and future students.