By Bill Miller
LOWER MANHATTAN — The post-COVID economic malaise could not dampen the spirits of Catholic education supporters who happily raised a record $2.8 million Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Futures in Education’s Annual Scholarship Dinner.
About half the goal was reached before dinner was served in the packed grand ballroom of Cipriani Wall Street. But then came the “Angel Auction” handled by Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, vicar for development, and Msgr. David Cassato, vicar for Catholic schools.
The vicars crisscrossed the stage, urging audience members to open their hearts and their checkbooks. They called out patrons by name, challenging them, and cheered the ever-growing bids.
Coupled with the silent auction and other donations, the evening’s proceeds bested 2021’s total of $2.1 million. The audience celebrated with a rendition of “Sweet Caroline,” a favorite often sung by the spirited vicars at various public events.
“It’s a record breaker,” exclaimed Msgr. Gigantiello, following the event. “Never has the diocese raised so much money.”
Futures in Education helps pay tuition at Catholic schools and academies in the Diocese of Brooklyn. Longtime supporters help ensure that opportunity for some 3,000 students.
The event drew a surprise appearance by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who praised the audience for investing in children.
“If you don’t educate, you will incarcerate — there is no getting around it,” he said. “Look over your history. Don’t let anyone try to rewrite the role that the Catholic schools have played in communities.”
“When other private schools were not willing to go into the depths of the crevices of our city, you are willing to do that,” he added.
The event honored two of the organization’s longtime supporters — Gregory Cerchione, lawyer and principal at Subin Associates, and Joseph Cappotelli, former vice chairman of the global construction firm, Structure Tone.
Both men and their families are also beneficiaries of Catholic education in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
Also, special honor was given to Joseph Mattone, founder of a real estate and property management firm and a real estate law firm, both carrying his name. Mattone, 91, was praised for his longtime support of Catholic education.
The parent presentation was given by Toni Totten, who was joined on stage by her sons, Adonnis and Sincere Payne, and grandsons Makai and Ramrin Payne. All four young men are students at Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Jamaica.
It was the first Futures in Education gala attended by Bishop Robert Brennan since his installment last November. He gave the invocation. Bishop Emeritus Nicholas DiMarzio also attended.
Rosanna Scotto, co-host of “Good Day New York” on Fox5 NY, was mistress of ceremonies. Veronica Tsang, board chair of Futures in Education, introduced a video presentation about the organization.
Performances included the National Anthem by Daniel Rodriguez, a musical medley by students of Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Astoria, and a few songs from classical vocalist Christopher Macchio.