March 23rd, 2018 the Chapel at St. Joseph Retreat Center, Staten Island served as the stage for a remarkable beautiful opera performance. The artists, Hayden DeWitt, Allegra Durante, Preston Fritz Smith and Yiling Ding truly transported the audience to Shakespeare’s time.
Before the performance, the 45 attendees enjoyed a cocktail hour. Assorted beverages paired perfectly with a selection of savory appetizers including crudités, shrimp cocktail, spanokopita, quiche, crab cakes, and more. For sweets, guests enjoyed tiramisu, lemon parfait, fresh mixed berries, and a beautiful assortment of homemade cookies prepared by the convent’s own Sr. Matilda.
During the festive cocktail hour, Liz Imbro engaged our guests about what they expected from the performance including which family would win—the Capulets or the Montagues. She also used the informal setting to offer insights on what to expect from a retreat and how to use the evening as an example of art as a form of spiritual retreat or meditation.
How did the chapel ever come to serve as a stage for art? We will call it a “Hill Family Affair.” Liz Cotter and Liz Imbro are long time friends of each other and supporters of their alma mater and the Sisters. The idea struck to host this event the week of St. Joseph’s day as a celebration and open house for the St. Joseph Retreat Center. Fortunately, Imbro is also family friends with Allegra Durante, whose ensemble was able to reunite for this repeat performance (originally held in 2015 as a fundraiser following the completion of the new chapel).
Those in attendance ranged from friends of friends, Hill alumnae, Lay Associates of the Sisters and St. Joseph Retreat Center participants. The event served as a unique retreat tying together art, love and time for self reflection. It was also an opportunity for guests to see the site as a venue for private retreats, group retreats and more.
The cast gives special thanks to the Daughters of Divine Charity for inviting them to perform; to Elizabeth Imbro for making the re-introductions that brought us back here; to Charles Imbro for bringing the music in a very literal sense by providing us with a keyboard; and to Ascension Church, for providing rehearsal space in Manhattan.
Special thanks to Sister Matilda for baking beautiful cookies, made even more delicious with the love she pours into them. Another thanks is sent to Tiffany Mazza for returning home to Hill for the evening to assist as hostess and caterer.
Many religious orders of both men and women have established legacy societies for those special donors who have included the Sisters, Priests, or Brothers in their wills. A few years ago the Daughters of Divine Charity established the Amor Dei Society, Latin for “God’s love,” to honor those donors who have included the Daughters of Divine Charity in their wills.
A charitable bequest enables you, the donor, to share in continuing the work of the Sisters whom you have supported during your lifetimes and have the ability to make it clear to your heirs your own charitable priorities. Many believe that bequests are made only by the very rich. This is NOT true. Any donor can indicate an amount of money or a percentage of their estate in ones’ will to be given at the donors’ time of death.
Recently the Sisters received a very generous gift from a long – time donor at his passing. Arthur Friedberg loved his aunt, Sister Ernestine, deeply. Whenever possible he visited. During his frequent calls they often spoke about what Sister Ernestine and her Sisters were doing in schools, the parishes and in the homes where they provided care for the elderly and the disabled. While the Sisters certainly join with his family mourning his passing, they know that, thanks to him, the ministries of the Sisters that he supported all his life will go on even after his death.
If you are interested in joining the Amor Dei Society, call our office at 718-720-7365 for more information.
Listening to all the attendees, the recent St. Joseph’s Day mass and pot luck dinner at the St. Joseph Hill convent was a huge success. This year’s event brought together a group of over 50 visitors to the convent. St. Joseph Hill Academy alumni of the elementary and high school joined current parents, retreat center participants, Lay Associates of the Daughters of Divine Charity, the Sisters and friends for a wonderful experience.
Msgr. Edmund Whalen celebrated a Mass in honor of our patron, St. Joseph, at 4:30 pm and the dinner followed. Adrienne Ferretti, alumna and friend of the Sisters, oversaw the kitchen’s operations. She ensured every dish was served hot and as directed by its contributor.
The extensive selection of dishes include saur braten, roasted vegetables, chicken and veal parmesan, penne vodka, shrimp oreganatta, tacos, chili, mac and cheese and so much more. The dessert table brought delights from every Staten Island bakery only to be rivaled by some truly outrageously delicious homemade favorites!
Despite the endless food buffet, the camaraderie shared amongst the guests is what made the evening truly special. Some comments that stand out as our reason to continue the tradition, “We so look forward to this time spent with the Sisters.” and “It is so wonderful to connect with old friends, I haven’t missed a single St. Joseph’s Day since it started.”
Special thanks to the Montanti Family for coordinating with the Staten Island Advance. It was wonderful to see this tradition featured on the local newspaper’s website. If you want to see more photos from the celebration, please visit: silive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2018/03/st_joseph_hill_honors_their_pa.html
Couldn’t make it this year? Save the date for next year! March 19, 2018.