Bishop Brennan hosts annual Christmas luncheon at Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach

Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon
Bishop Robert Brennan delivers remarks at his Christman luncheon at Russo’s in the Bay that honored the families behind Plaxall in Long Island City. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Bishop Robert Brennan held a Christmas luncheon that drew more than 800 people to Russo’s on the Bay in Howard Beach. The luncheon raised $300,000 for the Catholic Foundation of Brooklyn and Queens, which provides scholarships for Catholic education and youth ministries in the Diocese, which includes Queens and Brooklyn.

“We have a church that is fully alive and people who are doing amazing things,” Brennan said. “Thank you, thank you for all of your generosity. Thank you for your love of Jesus Christ and thank you for the many ways that you bring that love to his own people.”

Hundreds of people attend the annual Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon at Russo’s on the Bay on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

Brennan was installed as the eighth Bishop of Brooklyn just over a year ago and has since visited 127 parishes and 25 schools throughout Queens and Brooklyn. The bishop said what he heard most from the community was concern for “our people and formation in the faith.”

“Today is really all about the work that you do to help to inform and invigorate our young people, to pass in the faith, to transmit the faith to a new generation through our Catholic schools,” Brennan said.

Auxiliary Bishop James Massa was the recipient of the St. John Paul Award.

“This is a real honor for me to receive an award named after the great John Paul II,” Massa said, recalling how John Paul II was instrumental in him finding his way to the priesthood.

Awards for this year’s honorees at the annual Bishop’s Christmas Luncheon. (Photo by Paul Frangipane)

When he was a college student in Boston in 1979, John Paul II delivered the homily during his holy mass in the Boston Common during his first Apostolic Journey to the United States.

“I think my journey to priesthood began that rainy afternoon among the 400,000 of Pope John Paul’s closest friends in Boston Common,” he said. “He is a towering figure even today, so this award means a great deal to me.”

Other honorees included Frank DeRosa, who served as the public information officer for the Diocese of Brooklyn, as well as the Kirby, Pfohl and Quigly families that have run Plaxall Inc. in Long Island City.

Plaxall managing director Paula Kirby accepted the Hope Award with Cannon Quigley Campbell on behalf of their families.

“I read yesterday that the majority of adults who give to charity have parents who gave to charity and provided an example, and Cannon and I have uncles — definitely had amazing examples with our moms here, our aunts and uncles, and also our grandparents,” Kirby said, adding that the extended family is especially proud to support the Catholic Foundation of Brooklyn and Queens because of their faith and the education system, which played a vital role in the community during the pandemic.

“Education was incredibly important to our grandparents and our parents,” Kirby said. “And definitely what the Diocese has done to help children continue to go to school in person over the last two years was so very impressive and we’re really, really proud to be associated with that in any small way.”

Additional reporting by Paul Frangipane.

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