Alumni joyfully renewed bonds with each other as they gathered at St. John’s University to celebrate the second annual Homecoming Weekend that was held from Friday, October 21, to Sunday, October 23, on the Queens, NY, campus.
“It’s an exciting time to be at St. John’s,” said Mark Andrews, Director, Office of Alumni Relations. “It’s a time to celebrate relationships from the past and create new ones with your fellow Johnnies.”
Homecoming Weekend, which offered guests a wide range of activities and celebrations to recognize their connection to the University, was the culmination of the second annual Homecoming Week that began on Friday, October 14.
On the Queens campus, the Red Storm Parade formally kicked off the weekend festivities on Friday, October 21. An enthusiastic group of alumni, students, and other members of the University community marched or slowly motored along campus roads in decorated vehicles, with horns blaring, as they wielded banners and proudly wore red, St. John’s signature school color.
Following the parade, the Red Storm Tip-Off marked the unofficial start of the St. John’s season for Men’s and Women’s Basketball, under the leadership, respectively, of Coach Mike Anderson (men’s) and Coach Joe Tartamella (women’s).
On the Staten Island, NY, campus, the Homecoming celebration was hosted October 14–16. Events included the traditional Party on the Hill and the Community Mass.
New to the Queens campus celebration this year was the Alumni Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Scholarship: Carnesecca 3-on-3 Balanced Leader Scholarship Program Fundraiser. This basketball tournament for alumni, students, Sigma Phi Epsilon members, and their friends aimed to raise funds to fully endow the Balanced Leader Scholarship at St. John’s. Students and alumni could enter the tournament individually or as a team of three.
The always popular Homecoming Fest drew alumni and family members who convened outside Taffner Field House and the tennis court lawn to enjoy a barbecue, hotdogs and hamburgers, fall-themed desserts, and beverages. Attractions to suit all ages were provided, from an inflatable obstacle course for kids to inflatable axe throwing for kids-at-heart. Face painters and balloon artists were also available, as well as the opportunity to win exciting giveaways.
As he enjoyed a meal at the Homecoming Fest, Vincent Rella ’79SVC explained that his decision to attend St. John’s as a Computer Science major was fated. “If I hadn’t come to St. John’s, I would never have met my best friend, Carlos Pinzon, who was a member of my class. I would never have married his sister, Elvira—who I have been married to for 40 years—and I would never have had my kids and my grandchildren.”
He added that when he was a child, his older cousin, Marta Recarey ’64C, of Bethpage, NY, would often bring him to the Queens campus, where she was earning a Master of Science degree in Chemistry. “I was like his big sister,” said Ms. Recarey. She would later switch careers from being a chemist to teaching the subject to junior and senior high school students for 39 years.
Strolling in front of Taffner Field House with his wife, Rohini Alli, and daughter, Jasmine, 10, Paul Alli ’03CPS of Hollis, NY, said, “We come back every year for everything from alumni gatherings to the Christmas tree lighting at Winter Carnival. It’s a beautiful campus.”
"It’s a great family outing for us,” said Ms. Alli. “I also want Jasmine to see where her father went to college, so she will be inspired to get her own college degree.”
Suffolk County, NY, resident Kevin Sexton ’77Ed said he is very grateful he attended St. John’s. “It helped to reconnect me to my Catholic religion,” he explained. “I enrolled in three theology classes during my time as an undergraduate, and also became a founder of the Theological Honor Society.”
On Saturday evening, former student-athletes and coaches who achieved excellence in their sport while representing St. John’s on the national and international levels were honored with their induction into the annual Athletics Hall of Fame, a Homecoming Weekend staple, as members of the Class of 2022. The honorees make up the 23rd class in program history. The Athletics Hall of Fame committee unanimously recommended these individuals for the prestigious honor.
Those who were honored featured baseball coaching legend Ed Blankmeyer; Olympians Priscilla Frederick (track and field) and Daryl Homer (fencing); former St. John’s University Men’s Basketball star and retired professional National Basketball Association player and All-Star Jayson Williams, and basketball standouts Jerry Houston and Nadirah McKenith as well as lacrosse All-American Kieran McArdle.
The Johnny spirit and St. John’s pride were on display as participants took part in other traditional Homecoming events, such as the 1870 Court, as well as sporting matches, some of which involved alumni student-athletes in competitions that included the Red Storm Lacrosse Red/White Scrimmage.
Another popular event on the Queens campus was the Alumni and Community Mass at St. Thomas More Church on Sunday. In addition, the St. John’s Women’s Soccer team played Marquette University at Belson Stadium.
At one point during her visit to her alma mater, Ms. Recarey said she would urge current and future St. John’s students to keep an open mind. “Your concept of what you think your future profession will be may change on a dime, as it did for me,” she said. “Don’t hesitate to change direction if it feels right for you to do so. You don’t always know in advance what will stir your imagination.”