CONEY ISLAND — Father Dominick Cutrone has been a part of the fabric of numerous Brooklyn neighborhoods and an ordained priest for 65 years.
It was no surprise, therefore, that more than 175 guests, including elected officials, members of the clergy and community leaders, as well as family and friends, joined the beloved priest to celebrate his milestone 90th birthday on Saturday, Jan. 25 at Gargiulo’s restaurant, 2911 West 15th St. in Coney Island.
Cutrone is pastor emeritus of Our Lady of Grace in Gravesend, where he served from 1983 to 2001. He also was pastor at St. Bernadette in Dyker Heights, from 1955 to 1965; at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg, from 1965 to 1970; at St. Finbar in Bath Beach, from 1970 to 1977 and at St. Agnes in Cobble Hill, from 1977 to 1983.
Cutrone was born on Jan. 25, 1930 and attended P.S. 145 in Bushwick and Holy Trinity High School in Williamsburg. He received his B.A. from St. John’s University and his M.S. from Fordham University.
Cutrone was an avid skier, still loves the opera and used to bike ride all over Gravesend. As pastor emeritus, he still celebrates mass, baptisms and funeral masses, and visits with the sick and elderly.
Event Chair Mary Ann De Luca served as master of ceremonies. “Yesterday was Father Cutrone’s 90th birthday,” she told this paper. “June 2020 will mark his 65th year of ordination in the priesthood. We had 230 people today at our five o’clock mass at Our Lady of Grace, including all of Father Cutrone’s friends from the priesthood along with some former priests from the parish.”
De Luca said that this was her second time celebrating a milestone birthday with Cutrone. “I did it for his 80th, and a lot of the same people have come back for this party. It’s just an honor to be the toastmaster for him. I’ve known him since 1989 when I first came into the parish and served as a volunteer.” she added.
De Luca credited Cutrone with being instrumental in helping to establish the thrift shop, the pastoral ministry group, the bereavement program, the homeless program and the perpetual adoration chapel that remain an integral part of the parish today.
Former City Councilmember Domenic Recchia called Cutrone a great unifier as he presented him with a proclamation on behalf of Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz. “When I became a city councilman, I worked with Father Cutrone in feeding the homeless and addressing many problems in our community,” Recchia told this paper.
“He’s not someone who just sits back and watches; he makes things happen and he works with everyone. He’s a great unifier and this is what we need in our country today — people to bring us all together.”
Cutrone explained how much he loved his career in the priesthood. He shared an anecdote about asking children questions from the Bible. “One of the things I do is I try to formulate questions to ask them depending on who’s there — first grade, fifth grade, eighth grade –– whatever it is. Then, I ask them a question and if they know the right answer, I dig into my pocket, and I take out a dollar bill and say you just won a dollar, and they just go crazy.”
State Sen. Andrew Gounardes attended the celebration and presented Cutrone with a Senate proclamation.
“It’s really a true testament to this community for packing this house, packing this hall and having such a great celebration,” Gounardes said. “I’m honored to be here and I look forward to coming here in the years ahead.”