Golden Age Society transports seniors back to high school

‘Senior prom’ held at O’Neill’s

By Stephanie Meditz
[email protected]

The Golden Age Society, a senior group at St. Mary’s Winfield church in Woodside, turned up the rock-and-roll tunes and opened the dance floor to its members last week.

Prom king Herbie Wiley poses with his queen, Catherine Berger.

Members of the society came together to socialize, dance, and reminisce on their high school days at a “senior prom” at O’Neill’s in Maspeth.

The Golden Age Society typically hosts parties like this twice a year, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for seniors to spend time together.

Father Rolvin Romero, a visiting priest at St. Mary’s church for the summer, is grateful to be in the U.S. after two years of travel restrictions.

He is currently studying canon law in Spain, where he will return in the fall to pursue a doctorate.

He emphasized the importance of social interaction for seniors and is glad that the Golden Age Society could finally get together again.

“I know that they were trying so hard to get people back because there are still people, I guess, who are afraid to go out of their houses,” he said. “It’s a good thing to gather them again and we have to go on with a new normal.”

Usually, Father Romero only interacts with the seniors when they attend Mass, so he was honored to be invited to the prom.

“It’s very nice to bond with these wonderful seniors,” he said. “I am Filipino and we value our family ties, we value our grandparents, and so it’s like this is to be with my grandparents.”

Carol Cappiello has been a member of St. Mary’s parish since 1968 and worked in the rectory for 19 years.

As a member of the Golden Age Society, she is grateful for the chance to meet new people and keep in contact with old friends at meetings.

“It’s a nice place to meet and gather and socialize with all our friends that you don’t get to see every day,” she said.

The prom inspired Cappiello to recall her own prom and the loud rock-and-roll music she listened to when she was a senior at All Saints High School in Brooklyn.

Joseph Yee, another long-standing member of St. Mary’s parish, likewise reflected on his high school days at Power Memorial Academy in Manhattan, which has since closed.

He was a student there at the same time as former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, whom Yee knew as “Lou.”

“We never lost a basketball game. Maybe once,” he said, proudly displaying his Power Memorial baseball cap. “That’s my claim to whatever fame that Power brings me. When I go shopping, it’s amazing how many people know about Power, not because they went to Power, but because of all the other Catholic high schools that used to get beaten by us.”

Yee was a leader of song at St. Mary’s for 30 years before he retired, and he is still an active member of the parish today.

Parishioners from St. Mary’s and St. Adalbert’s shared a table with Father Romero.

A two-time lung cancer survivor, his faith is a central aspect of his life.

“Having survived death, basically, I have a certain different perspective of life,” he said. “Your whole life is based on the Lord now… the Lord is kind and merciful.”

Yee is a member of St. Mary’s Holy Name Society and helps take up collections at the church.

“I enjoy the camaraderie of the Golden Age even though it took a while before I got used to being a Golden Ager,” he said.

In the true spirit of the event, the Golden Age Society’s current president, Carol Smykowski, crowned Herbie Wiley and Catherine Berger king and queen of the prom.

Smykowski recalled a previous event at which Wiley danced with Berger by spinning her around in her wheelchair. The two shared a “first dance” at the prom as well.

Donning her rhinestone tiara, 85-year-old Berger remembered a beauty contest that she won as a teenager.

She is grateful to the Golden Age Society for keeping her close to the friends she has made over the years.

Wiley, a first-year member of the society, did not expect to win the title of prom king.

“I had a great time, it’s been a great year. And I was lucky they chose me as the king,” he said, showing off his bow tie. “I did wear my tuxedo.”

The Golden Age Society is open to all community members ages 50 and older. Members come from various places, including AARP and the parishes of St. Mary’s, St. Adalbert’s, and St. Sebastian’s.

Jean Bednarczyk, a member of AARP and St. Mary’s parish, loves the community aspect of the society, especially in wake of the pandemic.

“At this point in my life, I want to socialize with people,” she said. “For so long, we couldn’t get together… now, things are opening up, so it’s nice to get out and mingle again.”

The group meets on Tuesdays from noon to 3 p.m. in the parish room at St. Mary’s to play Bingo or cards and socialize over cake and coffee.

As president of the society, Smykowski works to ensure that it brings seniors together “not just as a community, but as friends.”

“I really like this group, I like what I’m doing,” she said. “They like to have fun, and that’s what I like. This is my first full year as president, so I try to come up with some different ideas.”

New Senior Housing in Brownsville

Catholic Charities has unveiled a new senior housing complex in East New York

The Our Lady of Loreto Church stood for nearly 100 years in the Brownsville community as a house of worship. On Thursday, it was debuted as the brand new Pope Francis Apartments at Loreto – a new affordable housing complex for senior citizens.

“This project, and our being here today, is really a testimony to the fact that the church is not a museum, but a living organism,” Reverend Robert Brennan, the Bishop of Brooklyn, said. “The needs of the church change as the needs of the neighborhood change, over time. And so we’ve gone through cycles, and we’ve had to make changes and, and yet, something lifegiving always seems to emerge. And that’s what we have here today; we see this place transformed here.”

The units at 2377 Pacific Street will offer 135 apartments to seniors and formerly homeless seniors. 60 percent of the units will be supportive housing while the other 40 percent will be deemed as affordable independent residences for seniors, or AIRS units. The AIRS units will be pegged at up to 50 percent of the Area Median Income while the other units are supported with a rental subsidy through the Empire State Supporting Housing initiative.

The eight-story building will also feature 24-hour security, laundry facilities, rooftop solar panels and more. These services, as well as case management services, will be provided to residents by Catholic Charities.

Monsignor Alfred LoPinto took the occasion to remind attendees that the mission of the Pope Francis apartments is greatly tied to the pope’s dedication to the elderly.

“Pope Francis urges everyone to protect and nourish the elderly, stating: ‘let us protect them so that nothing of their lives and dreams may be lost. May we never regret that we were insufficiently attentive to those who loved us….’ That is why it is so fitting to me today to name this beautiful residence after Pope Francis,” Monsignor Alfred LoPinto said. “Inside these walls, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens will be able to protect older adults and alleviate their difficulties, just as Pope Francis asked us to do. We ensure that they do not feel alone by attending to their needs”

St. Joe’s sends off seniors

Senior Kevin Reyes went 4-for-4 at the plate and scored a run while Anthony Hernandez went 4-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, however, the St. Joseph’s College (Brooklyn) baseball team dropped the first game of Sunday’s twin bill to SUNY Maritime College, 7-5.
Joining Reyes and Hernandez with multi-hit games were Floral Park Memorial product Chris Leary and Nick Tapio, who both hit doubles and recorded an RBI each. Louis Lombardi also drove in a pair of runs.
Reyes would go 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored in the nightcap while Leary drove home both runs for the Bears (2-20, 1-14 Skyline) as the Privateers (10-5, 7-2) took the 14-2 win.
Along with Reyes, SJC honored their six graduating seniors from Gregg Alfano Field: C.J. Bunnicelli, Darius Cadle, William DeLuca, Nicholas Hernandez, and Maspeth native Matthew Rienzi. All six seniors would see action on Sunday.
In game one, the Privateers took an early 2-0 lead in the first thanks to a double that found the left-center field gap. Reyes’ leadoff double began the bottom half of the inning, scoring on Leary’s single to put the Bears on the board.
Hernandez followed that up with a single up the middle before he and Leary scored on a two-bagger by Lombardi; giving the Bears a 3-2 edge.
Vasilios Vafakos drew the game even at three with a single in the away half of the second. The freshman outfielder batted in the go-ahead run on a sac fly in the fourth, 4-3.
Leary doubled to begin the fifth. Hernandez blooped a single over the head of the Maritime first baseman and down the right-field line to once again tie the game, this time at four apiece.
It remained knotted until the eighth, when Danny Green’s RBI single gave the Privateers the lead at 5-4. Bunnicelli was pulled after 7.1 innings, allowing three earned runs and settling for the loss.
In the nightcap, a combination of passed balls and wild pitches plated Vafakos for the opening run of the game in the first, adding a couple more later in the frame.
As was the case in game one, Reyes led off the Bears’ half of the first with a double and scored on Leary’s single up the middle, grabbing a run back at 3-1.
Maritime saw their three-run lead restored in the second, but the Bears once again cut the deficit to two in the third with Leary bringing Reyes home, this time via a sac bunt, 4-2.
The Privateers further distanced themselves by scoring in each of the final four innings, headlined by a pair of doubles in that stretch and a seventh-inning homer, to win the non-conference game 14-2 and sweep the series from SJC.
DeLuca started the game on the mound for the Bears, tossing an inning and being dealt the loss. Rienzi played his 45th and final game in a Bears uniform, extending the program record for appearances by a pitcher, coming on for DeLuca in the second.
It was followed up by Cadle’s longest outing of the season, pitching 2.2 innings in relief and striking out three.
The seventh inning saw Reyes fan a pair in his first-ever appearance on the bump and Bunnicelli, entering as a pinch hitter, notching his first collegiate hit in the bottom of the inning.

Fill the Form for Events, Advertisement or Business Listing