More than 1,000 guests filled the El Caribe Country Club on May 27 to honor the retiring Msgr. David Cassato.
Cassato was the pastor of St. Athanasius Church for 21 years and the party took place on the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
During the bash, Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell promoted Cassato to assistant chief chaplain of the NYPD and gave him a gold shield.
“Assistant Chief Chaplain Monsignor Cassato’s support of the men and women of the NYPD is unwavering,” Sewell said. “He’s always there to offer guidance, comfort, or simply lend an ear. We’re forever grateful to him.”
Cassato said the celebration made him “extremely emotional.”
“People walked in that I never thought were coming,” he said. “It was very humbling. People came up to me and asked if I remember if I did this or that. Most of the things I didn’t remember. You listen and reflect on what people had to say and it’s how those gifts of the priesthood impacted the lives of so many people.”
The St. Athanasius parish congratulated Cassato on Facebook and thanked him for his work in the community.
“We love you and wish you nothing but happiness,” the message said. “We are blessed to have you as our pastor these past 21 years. May God continue to bless you in your ministry.”
On May 29, the parish held an anniversary Mass for Cassato and unveiled a sign renaming St. Athanasius Catholic Academy in his honor.
“The Mass was beautiful,” Cassato said. “My grandniece and grandnephew brought up the gifts for bread and wine. It was special.”
“It was an honor and a privilege preaching at the 50th anniversary Mass of my best friend Msgr. David Cassato today,” said Msgr. Jamie Gigantiello. “We give thanks to God for 50 years of his priestly ministry and ask for God’s blessing upon him in the years to come.”
Cassato will remain as vicar for Catholic schools for one more year.
“I’m not looking forward to just sitting around,” he said. “I want to still be active and do things as a priest. It offers me a great opportunity. Education in our diocese has been a great passion of mine.”