Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Astoria presented Immaculate Mary Leadership awards to five alumni — including late NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez, whose family established a scholarship fund in honor of the 9/11 hero.
More than 200 supporters of the school attended the fundraising event on Oct. 17 to mark its 97th anniversary at Terrace on the Park, located at 52-11 111th St. in Flushing.
“The 97th anniversary of Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Astoria celebrates what is unique about Catholic education, the education of the whole child — academically, spiritually and in their personal growth; supported by an academy community comprised of our pastor, board of trustees, the principal, teachers, parents, alumni and friends, all who participate in some way in our students’ education,” Diane Pisido, chairperson of the board of directors of Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy, said.
This year, the school posthumously awarded Alvarez, who was in class of 1979. Phil Alvarez spoke movingly about his brother and the establishment of the Immaculate Mary Stewardship Fund/NYPD Detective Luis Alvarez Award in his memory to help families and their children to “Immac.”
Alvarez died of cancer at the age of 53 in 2019.
After the attacks on the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Alvarez worked at Ground Zero, cleaning the rubble and waste left at the site. He was diagnosed with cancer several years ago and underwent dozens of rounds of chemotherapy.
Alvarez was an advocate for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund that was set up for police, firefighters and others who worked at Ground Zero.
Just weeks before his death, he had testified before the House Judiciary subcommittee in favor of extending the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund. Partly as a result of his testimony, the fund was extended.
The former NYPD detective is remembered as an American hero whose legacy lives on after his physical extraordinary courage to testify on behalf of other 9/11 victims, even as he was dying.
The four other honorees awarded at the event included JoAnn Falleta (class of 1968); Richard Haray, (class of 1970); Rocco Sacramone, chef, Trattoria L’Incontro; and Matthew Troy (class of 1977).
Falletta, a renowned conductor, multiple Grammy award winner, and music director of the Buffalo Symphony Orchestra, was named as one of the 50 great conductors, past and present, by Gramophone magazine. With a discography of more than 120 titles, she served as a member of the National Council on the Arts during the Bush and Obama administrations by presidential appointment.
Haray practiced real estate law at two large New York firms before becoming in-house lease counsel for Rockefeller Center. He has been with his current employer, IPG, for 25 years and is now senior vice president of corporate services.
Haray is most proud of his philanthropic work and fundraising activities on behalf of several charities, including those that provide housing for the elderly, and drug and alcohol support. With family and friends, he created two scholarship foundations for students at St. John’s and Fordham universities.
Sacramone, chef and owner of Trattoria L’incontro in Astoria, worked in restaurants from a very early age and developed a passion for cooking fine food. When his mother Tina, herself a fine cook, came on board the restaurant to manage the staff and preparation, Sacramone was free to create new dishes while maintaining traditional recipes. He lives in Long Island City with his wife, Debbie, and his daughter, Chiara, who attends Immaculate Conception Academy and is in the sixth grade.
Troy graduated from Msgr. McClancy Memorial High School, where he ran cross country and indoor and outdoor track for three years. After graduating from Boston College with a B.A. in economics, he began his 36-year Wall Street career, first at Goldman Sachs, where he became vice president, and then at Jeffries LLC where he is senior vice president in Securities Lending.
Troy and his wife Mary live in Floral Park where they raised their four children, all of whom attended Catholic grammar school, high school and college. As a member of Our Lady of Victory parish, Troy has chaired several school fundraisers and parish events. He also serves as Deputy Grand Knight of his Knights of Columbus Council, #2345.