Thanks to the continued generosity of Judge Louis Fusco and the Tri-State Italian-American Congress, 116 students enrolled in 36 Catholic elementary schools and academies within the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens can begin the New Year rejoicing in a special gift – the gift of a scholarship to attend Catholic school.
Overall, $80,000 was awarded by the organization to the Office of the Superintendent-Catholic School Support Services to distribute in the form of scholarships to students. Awards were given to students of Italian lineage that are also in need of financial assistance. Despite the snow and ice that fell on Dec. 17, recipients and their families gathered at St. James Cathedral-Basilica, Downtown Brooklyn, for an awards ceremony with Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio.
“We gather today with great joy due to the generosity of Judge Fusco and the Tri-State Italian American Congress, because their generosity over the past years has made our Christmas bright. We are most grateful to them for celebrating with us this day,” said Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of schools.
Bishop DiMarzio and Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello, diocesan director of development, led the congregation in prayer.
“You have so many things to keep you entertained, but the important thing is that you do study,” Bishop DiMarzio told the students in his homily, recalling his Italian grandmother and her insistence for him to study. He stressed the importance of studying, recognizing the sacrifices their parents make for their education and thanking others by praying for them.
“It is important that you do apply yourself and, believe me, it is not easy to study,” explained the bishop. “You have to sacrifice the other things that you would like to do in order that you can study. Let us remember that because, today, these gentlemen have come here to help make sure that you can stay in a Catholic school. Judge Fusco is the man behind this work… he really believes in education and so he is making sure with these other gentlemen that you can get a strong education, so that you can succeed.”
Judge Fusco expressed gratitude for the opportunity to see the children. “I am so grateful that I was able to come here and say hello to the future,” he said. “As you can see I am not well and I want to do as much as I can, but I am sure my friend (and chairman of the board) Louis Vele will be able to take over what I leave off.
“I wish I could give more scholarships to you people. You deserve more, and I will be putting forth a big effort with the board to find some more money for these kids. I see these kids here, five and six years old, and my heart bleeds for them … they need this tuition so that they can go to a Catholic school.
“There is a very important fact: 97 percent of children who go to a Catholic school enter college. You are very fortunate that you are going to Catholic school. Our Catholic schools are here to help the kids, and we are here to help the kids. I wish you the best, and I hope I can be here next year. God bless you all. I love you all.”
The evening ended in a touching moment as children gathered to greet and thank the board, as well as Bishop DiMarzio.