Hundreds gather at El Caribe to celebrate retirement of Monsignor David Cassato

monsignor david cassato at retirement party
Monsignor David Cassato receiving a Detective’s shield from NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell at his retirement party and 50th year in priesthood celebration at the El Caribe.
Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

It’s his golden year for retirement! 

Some 1,000 people packed into Mill Basin’s El Caribe Country Club on May 27 to celebrate the retirement and the 50th anniversary in priesthood of Monsignor David Cassato, the longtime pastor at St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Bensonhurst.

“I was very very lucky and very humbled by the number of people that showed up, I could not believe it,” Cassato said. “It was just a beautiful experience.” 

Cassato has served at the Bay Parkway church since 2001, the same year he was appointed as a New York City Police Chaplain. In 2017, he was promoted to Deputy Chief Chaplain, and since 2020, he’s served as the Vicar of Catholic Schools for the Brooklyn Diocese. He also currently serves as the Diocesan Coordinator of Ministry to Italian immigrants.

The large impact Cassato has made within these roles is clear — and he assured those in attendance Friday that it won’t be coming to an end.

Cassato says he will remain a part of the lives of all of his parishioners by continuing to officiate weddings, baptisms and other important life events. He will also stay on as a police chaplain for as long as he can and plans to proceed as Vicar of Catholic Schools for at least a year.

“My goal is to continue to work for Catholic schools for at least another year because we have truly great Catholic schools here in Brooklyn and Queens,” Cassato said. “It’s on the upturn and I don’t want to give that up yet.”

monsignor david cassato with keechant sewell
Monsignor David Cassato with Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell at his retirement party. Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

John Quaglione, a spokesperson for the Brooklyn Diocese, said that Cassato has been a champion for people from all walks of life, which was represented at his celebration, where many came from far and wide to congratulate the pastor. 

“Monsignor Cassato’s retirement party was a testament to his 50 years of ministry as a priest. More so than the people, it was the true love of Monsignor that filled the room,” Quaglione said. “Monsignor Cassato is a one who has been there for so many on the best of days and the worst of days. He has truly lived an impactful life in his service to God and his people.”

At the El Caribe, Cassato said he saw faces from his early years as a priest at St. Rita’s Roman Catholic Church in Long Island City, and at Shrine Church of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Williamsburg — among them, one woman in particular who he helped when they both were young.

monsignor david cassato
Monsignor David Cassato hugging NYPD Detective Specialist John P. Blanco at his retirement party. Photo by Arthur de Gaeta

“There was a lady there from Long Island City, my first parish, I haven’t seen her in a long, long, long time,” Cassato said. “All of a sudden I saw her getting out of an Uber, and it brought back those memories of when I was a young priest. There were so many connections, reconnections and missed connections.” 

Many NYPD officers also took the trip to Mill Basin to show their support for Cassato, who has worked with them through many hard times. Among them was Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell, who presented the chaplain with a Detective’s Shield. 

“It’s been a great honor of being Police Chaplain,” said Cassato. “I’ve walked into situations of taking their lives and I’ve walked into situations where cops were gunned down in the street.” 

The NYPD commissioner also promoted the monsignor to assistant chief chaplain at the May 27 party.

As an homage to Cassato’s strong advocacy for Catholic schools, the namesake school of his former parish — St. Agnasius Catholic Academy — is being renamed in his honor. 

“If you ask me, these 50 years of my life I have always been deeply involved in Catholic education,” he said. “ So I am very happy about it and proud of it.” 

The school will also be hosting its own celebration for the monsignor with all the students this Friday, June 3.