Retirees Come Home at the Annual Mass and Luncheon

Retirees at the Annual Mass and Luncheon
November 27, 2019

More than 70 former St. John’s employees gathered on the Queens campus to reconnect with the University and their former colleagues at the Annual Retirees’ Association Mass and Luncheon held on November 13.

Susan M. Damiani ’87CBA, Director, Office of Gift Planning and The McCallen Society, is always pleased to see retirees visit the campus. “It brings back nice memories of when they used to work here,” she explained. “I hope that more retirees return to enjoy our many other upcoming events.”

Following Mass in St. Thomas More Church, Ms. Damiani began the luncheon in the D’Angelo Center by acknowledging the contributions of the late Virginia Nash Vetter ’90SVC and Richard C. Vetter, Sr. to the University. At the 22nd Annual President’s Dinner, they were honored posthumously with St. John’s prestigious Spirit of Service Award, which is conferred upon exceptional individuals who have lived their lives in accordance with the Vincentian philosophy of caring and concern for others.

Following her remarks, Simon G. Møller, Ph.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, gave an update on the University’s current academic year. 

After enjoying a buffet, guests had the opportunity to meet guest speaker Owen Duffy, Ph.D., Director of the Dr. M.T. Geoffrey Yeh Art Gallery, and learn about his latest art installment. Diplomacy is an exhibition inspired by the history of Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, and was showcased in the newly renovated gallery. Dr. Duffy emphasized the importance of sharing its significance with the St. John’s community.

Retirees reflected on their wonderful years as employees. Jeannine Persico ’83SVC and her daughter, Joanne Persico ’93MBA, ’09CERT, have served the University in very different ways. Joanne has been at St. John’s for 26 years as the Head Coach for volleyball. Jeannine retired after working at St. John’s for 24 years; she began as a supervisor in the University’s first microlab.

“That was the very beginning of Information Technology (IT) at the University,” Jeannine said. “We were not called IT. In those days, the department was called ‘academic computing’.” As supervisor, she managed the very first Help Desk. 

Joanne Persico is the longest tenured female coach in the history of athletics at the University, and her mother still visits the Queens campus to watch the volleyball games. “My mom never really left St. John’s,” she said. “It is nice that she comes back and remains active—she is a great role model.”

The Retirees Association Mass and Luncheon has become a yearly family reunion for everyone who attends. For Anthony Macaluso, former Associate Vice President for the Office of Business Affairs, this was his first visit to the campus since he retired in 2018. “I took this as an as an opportunity to come back, enjoy the luncheon, and catch up with my former colleagues in Business Affairs,” he said. “It was a nice visit.”

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