Michael Marano took his first trip on the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan to be recognized as one of 265 Catholic school students in the archdiocese receiving the Edward Cardinal Egan Scholarship at Cathedral High School on Jan. 16.
Marano received a $1,000 scholarship from the Tri-State Italian-American Congress.
“It’s exciting. I never got an award like that before,” the fifth-grader at St. Charles School on Staten Island told CNY. “My school has helped me become a better person because I’m learning religion and things you don’t learn in a public school.”
The Tri-State Italian-American Congress, which has sponsored the event for 15 years, awards scholarships to students of Italian heritage. The winners were nominated by their principals based on financial need. Two hundred families in the archdiocese each received a $1,000 scholarship.
“This has become a really special day on the calendar for the Catholic schools in the archdiocese,” said Dr. Timothy J. McNiff, archdiocesan superintendent of schools, in opening remarks at the awards ceremony. “It is with deep appreciation and gratitude to the members of the board for the Tri-State Italian-American Congress.”
The scholarship is the result of a friendship between the late Cardinal Egan and Judge Louis Fusco Jr., founder and former president of the Tri-State Italian-American Congress, who died in December 2014, three months before Cardinal Egan’s death.
Fusco, whose parents did what they needed to get a Catholic education for their son, approached Cardinal Egan about setting up the scholarship so that students with Italian backgrounds had the same opportunity their son did.
“Kids, thank you for taking the scholarship seriously and making the trust people put in you worthwhile with hard work and the study you do,” Cardinal Dolan said at the awards assembly. “So when we thank God, we thank God because we couldn’t do anything without God’s grace.”
Honorable Francesco Genuardi, consul general of Italy in New York, and board members of the Tri-State Italian-American Congress also attended the ceremony. Steven Virgadamo, associate superintendent for leadership and recruitment in the archdiocese, read the names of each of the 265 scholarship recipients.
Nicole Manzione, mother of Michael Marano, was proud of her son for his scholarship and thrilled with the education he receives.
“Knowing he’s doing great in a great Catholic school, it’s a big deal to me. I’m very proud,” said Ms. Manzione. “He’s a good Christian, learning good morals and respecting others.
“It’s a beautiful environment to be in a Catholic school and the education is like none other. I’m very happy.”
Carmine Colotti and Louis-Michael Prezioso, juniors at Salesian High School in New Rochelle, both received scholarships.
“I appreciate them giving us the scholarships. It’s a great thing they’re doing. They put a lot of time into organizing this,” said Louis-Michael, who said he has worked with the homeless and developed a deeper faith as a Catholic school student.
“I can see how a better education can put me into a better job and will help me out in life,” Louis-Michael added.
Carmine described seeing Cardinal Dolan for the first time as “motivational.”
“A Catholic school,” Carmine said, “helps shape you into a man. The teachers and the environment are a real influence on you.”
He also said that being in a Catholic school has made him “a more respectful and kinder person.”