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Retirees Always Have a Home at St. John's

Friday, April 25, 2014

It has often been said that the St. John’s University family is forever, and nowhere was that more apparent than at the recent Retirees Association luncheon. Nearly 100 former employees from across the University came together to catch up with old friends and colleagues while learning about the latest happenings at St. John’s.

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“Our retirees have always been an important part of the University,” noted St. John’s President Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M. “They are very committed to our special mission of service, and we will always be grateful for the many ways in which their dedication and support has made our University so strong.”

The Vincentian mission has always been important to Henry Carattini, who devoted more than 33 years to the development and maintenance of the Queens campus. Although he retired as Director of Facilities in 1994, he has never lost his connection to the University that played such an important part in his life.

“When I first came here, the only buildings on this campus were St. John Hall and the old clubhouse on the corner of Union Turnpike and Utopia Parkway,” he recalled. “The University is very different today from what it was when I worked here, but I really appreciate that the mission of making a difference for others is as strong or stronger today than ever. I know that whatever the future holds for St. John’s, it will always be a wonderful place for anyone fortunate enough to work here.”

George Pietramala couldn’t agree more. For many of his 34 years at St. John’s he worked closely with Carattini, first as Director of Purchasing and later as Facilities Director for the School of Law. He keeps in touch with many of the friends he made during his career at St. John’s, and sees the thriving Queens campus of today as a testament to what he and his colleagues set in motion more than three decades ago.  

“My best memories of St. John’s are really linked to working with Fr. [Joseph T.] Cahill, C.M. ’50G, ’88HON when he was President in the late 1970s through the 1980s,” he said. “We built Bent Hall, we built the extension on the Law School and did a lot of renovations, especially to Marillac Hall. But the people who I met and worked with over the years are really my fondest memories. St. John’s has always been about the people, which is why staying involved will always be important to me.”

One of the University’s more recent retirees, Sr. Patty Ann O’Brien, D.C. spent 23 years as a member of the Campus Ministry staff. During that time she enhanced the spiritual life of the community by training and mentoring the extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist, the lectors and the altar servers. She also headed a Scripture study group and developed an on-campus bereavement program.

They are very committed to our special mission of service, and we will always be grateful for the many ways in which their dedication and support has made our University so strong.”

This energetic nun will always be grateful that her work at St. John’s gave her an opportunity to combine God’s message of love and hope with St. Louise de Marillac’s commitment to making a difference for others.

“Being a part of Campus Ministry allowed me to get to know and reach out to so many people,” she said. “Coming back today and meeting up with the friends from my past is absolutely wonderful. St. John’s has always been a force for good in the world, and it’s people like the ones who gave their time and talents in the service of others that have made it what it is today. Even though we retire, there’s so much about the University that will always be a part of us. And that’s nice!”

At the conclusion of the luncheon, Dr. Jerrold Ross, Academic Vice President of the Staten Island campus and Dean of The School of Education was symbolically welcomed into the Retirees Association with a special cake bearing his name. Ross will be leaving St. John’s at the conclusion of the current academic year after 19 years of service, and although he will no longer serve as an active employee, this lifelong educator is already looking forward to the next phase of his life.

“My time at St. John’s will always be special to me,” he said, “because it gave me a chance to do whatever I could to make the world a little better place. Down the road I plan to support groups like the Catholic Relief Services and the Anti-Defamation League, and do what I can to foster awareness of the importance of the arts in education. After 19 years, the University’s mission of serving the disadvantaged is more important to me than ever, and those are the kinds of things that I’ll be working for in the days ahead.”