Supporters and members of Ave Maria Catholic Academy and the Our Lady of Grace parish last Friday feasted and frolicked at Roma View in Howard Beach for the 6th annual AMCA Dinner-Dance.
Organized by AMCA Fundraising Committee Chairwoman Doreen DeCandia, the event serves as a yearly celebration of the school and church’s Catholic identity, and provides the opportunity to spotlight the efforts and achievements of clergy, teachers, school staff, coaches, and parents.
This year, the committee honored Nicky and Rosie Guida, and Joe and Roe Giustiniani with awards and City Council proclamations from the office of Councilman Eric Ulrich (R-Ozone Park).
“It’s not a school, it’s a family,” Nicky Guida said of Ave Maria. “It’s hard these days—you work a lot of hours. But [AMCA] fills that void.”
The friends sat at the same table.
“What makes this so much more special is the opportunity to share this with the Guidas,” said Roe Giustiniani. “We are truly grateful.”
As a surprise, the committee also honored Msgr. Anthony Rucando, the retiring pastor of Our Lady of Grace.
“He connected with students in very personal ways,” said Steven Eriquez, committee treasurer, before relating some farewell messages from the children.
“’You are the best priest in the world,’” wrote Juliet DeCandia.
After accepting his award and a rousing standing ovation, Rucando kept one eye on the past, and the other on the road ahead.
“In my priesthood of 45 years, I have been in the company of saints,” he noted, before adding, “The dedication of the future depends on the children of today. If we don’t invest ourselves in the future of our parish with young people, then there is no future.”
By Michael V. Cusenza