Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio announced the appointment Thursday of Monsignor David Cassato, pastor of St. Athanasius-St. Dominic Church in Bensonhurst, as the new vicar for Catholic Schools.
Cassato will also serve on the member board of all Catholic academies in Brooklyn and Queens, where he will provide guidance to pastors of those academies and work to engage donors in supporting the mission of Catholic education through Futures in Education scholarships.
“Catholic schools are our most beautiful and prized gems, as teaching the faith to our children is critical,” said Cassato. “We have so much to offer children of all backgrounds, but especially immigrant children, who we have been educating for years. Diversity is in our DNA here in the diocese, and our students leave our Catholic schools with the important values we hold dear, a foundation for success long after they graduate.
“I believe as we look to grow our schools, the biggest outreach we need to make is in the Hispanic community. At the same time, we must look to grow our scholarship programs so we can offer the opportunity of Catholic education to as many students as possible who need tuition assistance.”
Cassato was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1972 and served at St. Rita’s in Long Island City and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg. He was appointed a New York City Police chaplain in 2001 and promoted to deputy chief chaplain in 2017.
Cassato became the pastor at St. Athanasius in 2001. He is a former chaplain of Bishop Kearney H.S. and is the diocesan coordinator of ministry to Italian immigrants. He has been administrator of St. Dominic Church in Bensonhurst since 2015.
DiMarzio said he chose Cassato as vicar “because he is enthusiastic and has been a true champion of Catholic education. He has a great ability to connect with people and is patient. These attributes will help him greatly as he works collaboratively with the office of Superintendent-Catholic School Support Services, Catholic academies, boards of directors and parishes.”
Cassato addressed the challenges that come with the new title.
“We have experienced a pandemic this spring like never before,” he said. “In the face of that, our Catholic schools in Brooklyn and Queens surpassed expectations with very successful remote learning programs. While we see the online lessons work in our schools, I believe that as we look to start the new school year in September, it is absolutely critical that we open our network of Catholic schools. Children learn best in the classroom. Of course, a lot is going to depend on the decisions made by government and health officials.”
“Monsignor Cassato is stepping into this role at a uniquely challenging time for our Catholic schools,” said DiMarzio. “I am confident he will be successful because he handles his multiple responsibilities with effect and grace. His experience will provide him the opportunity also to be a great leader in this new role.”