St. Patrick’s students salute first responders

St. Patrick Catholic Academy hosted its second “First Responders’ Day” on Friday, January 20, honoring the brave members of the NYPD, FDNY, and EMS who serve the community.

The morning started with a special mass, celebrated by St. Patrick’s pastor Monsignor Michael Hardiman, and attended by the school’s entire student body, faculty, parents who are first responders and members of the 68th Precinct. Students participated in the mass by taking part in the procession, singing in the choir and altar serving. Parents and students alike memorialized recently deceased Detective Steven McDonald, who visited the school earlier this year.

Students also joined their parents who are first responders. Third grader Laura D’Emic was with her father, an active firefighter with the FDNY. Kevin Keenan, who is in NYPD harbor patrol, proudly watched his daughter, Shannon, who is in the seventh grade, serve mass.

During the mass, Hardiman pointed out the courage of the guests of honor, and all first responders, saying, “When there is a fire, or a bad guy on the street, we all run away, but you run that way [toward it].” He also summed up the spirit of the day in his homily, saying, “Thank you for what you do, and we always pray for your safety.”

St. Patrick’s last held First Responders’ Day two years ago, and new Principal Kathleen Curatolo decided to bring it back due to her close family connection with our city’s bravest. She has four brothers, including one police officer and three firefighters. One of Curatolo’s brothers died on September 11, 2001. She said, “I really like that we had kids and their parents who are first responders participating together.”

Following the mass, a light reception with pastries from Leske’s Bakery was held in the Aldo Bruschi Auditorium for all of the first responders. Some parents even stayed after the reception to visit their children and their classmates in kindergarten.

Thomas Casatelli, a retired firefighter, spoke about his experience on the job and stressed the importance of calling 911 in an emergency to the young students. Other parents, such as James and Fancy Zavala, who are a police officer and a retired EMT, respectively, also spoke to the students. Current EMT Sylvia Fogarty brought her work supplies with her and explained the instruments , such as blood pressure monitors and a stethoscope, to the students.

Happy with the success of the event, Curatolo hopes to make this an annual celebration. “This is something near and dear to my heart, so I do see this as something we could continue each year,” she said.

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