St. Rita's

I do not have an extensive history of St. Rita's. It was founded in 1913, and there is an official website with a brief history at In 2011, the parish announced the school would close and merge with St. Michael's.

NOTE: Due to the large number of class pictures we have received, I have created a separate page for them

Southwest corner, Atlantic and Essex,1940
Thanks to both Annette and Tony who reminded me that in the history of St. Rita's, Father Simmonetti (note: Tom Atanasio has informed me the correct spelling was 'Simonetti') rented the storefront on this corner in 1913 while the church was being built. The cornerstone was laid November 15, 1913 and the first 'solemn mass' was held on Easter 1914. On the right; a 1916 raffle ticket to help pay for the building.
St. Rita's 1930
These two shots are from the NYPDL archives, dating from 1930 and showing the front and the belfry. Eleanor Deliberti identified the building to the left as the rectory, and the building next to that as the Don Bosco house, where CYA (Catholic Youth Association) meetings were held.
Wedding Portait, 1920s
Leonora Licata sent this portrait taken in Goldenburg Studios, 954 Sutter Avenue. "This is the wedding portrait of my mother's cousin Louise Palladino and John Eodice. It is not dated but was from the 1920 - look at the length of the gown -- flapper power! John Eodice was a big deal usher at St. Rita's - old and new! In fact, when he died, he lay in state in the church - an almost unheard of action - except for priests (and in the middle ages, nobility.) They were married at the Old St. Rita's." Lou Caracappa, whose paternal grandfather was John Eodice, confirms the date as October 25, 1925. Lou notes his grandfather was also a member of the St. Vincent DePaul Society and often assisted food and clothing drives even though he had little himself.
St. Rita's Confirmation picture 1931
Peggy Solazzo sends in his 1931 St. Rita's confirmation picture of Dom and Mary Solazzo, taken in a studio in 1931.

St. Rita's 1939
I did find the tax photo for St. Rita's, though the print is weak you can see the sign announcing the mass times.
Societa Maria Angela Airola
Leonora Licata sent in this image which I believe is from the 1930s. Her maternal grandfather, Giovanni Palladino, is seated front row all the way to the left. Lee has done some research and Maria Airola was canonized, and Airola is the town near Naples where her grandfather was born. This club of St. Rita's may have been a group of men from that town but we are still looking for the full story.
St. Rita's School, 1938
This shot comes from a 1938 autograph book belonging to an Anne Grella, who listed her desired profession as "aviatrix". Tony Della Croce informed me the school was built in 1926. Tony also supplied the image of Father Anthony Manno, who wa instrumental in having the school built.
Phil Santella sent over this 1948 shot of the St. Rita's "Honor Thrift Class". On the right, Peter Stango sends over a copy of his aunt's graduation diploma from 1936.
Kindergarten Graduation, 1946
Caroline (DeGennaro) Noto sent in this shot 1946 of her brother Anthony's kindergarten graduation. Tony Della Croce sent the picture on the right and IDs the girls dressed as nuns as Francine Miglionico (on the right) and Anita Competello (on the left). Tony is the one kneeling in the front. The view is north towards Atlantic Avenue with the school in the background.
St. Rita's Altar Boy Society, June 1948
Also from Tony Della Croce courtesy of his brother Lou. "It was taken in the School Auditorium in June of 1948. Lou is third from the right in the top row. The adults seated in the front row are (left to right) as follows: Mr. Joseph Pagone (He was the Moderator of the Society at that time, and was ordained a priest several years later.), Father Berkery (Assistant Pastor), Monsignor Testagrossa (Pastor), and Father Serio (Assistant Pastor)." .
St. Rita's 1946, 1949
June (Giannuzzi) Marmo delivers with a 1946 picture of 1st communion day taken in the St. Rita's schoolyard. The second shot she guesses is from 1949, and features her helping kindergarten students prepare for "graduation".
St. Ritas 1949, 1951
Some traditions; a parade shot from 1951 with Fr. Fusco. On the right is the nativity scene set in front of St. Rita's in 1949, sent in by Phil Santella.
San Giuseppe Society, circa 1950
Danny Blanda sends in these great shots of his grandparents, Nicholas and Carolina Blanda, who were both active members in the society. In the first picture they are standing with Fr. Fusco.
Wedding, July 8, 1951
From Leonora Licata, the wedding of her Aunt Gussie to Joseph Leonardo on July 8, 1951. On the right, her mother Francesca, father Mario and to the right of Mario is Leonora's paternal grandfather, Francesco. .
School Sisters of Notre Dame, 1952
Tony Della Croce supplied this image, and supplied some IDs: " BACK ROW: Sr.Thomas More, Sr.Valentino, Sr.Marie Damian, Sr.Valeria, Sr.Karina, Sr.Olga, Sr.Denisia
FRONT ROW: Sr.Prudentius, Sr.Alphius, Sr.Ancilla, Sr.Francis, Sr.Alphonso (The Principal), Sr.Cabrini, Sr.Carmina, Sr.Anthony Mary, Sr.Beata" .
Jim DeSapio sent in this 1952 shot of his sister Ruth's wedding. Pictured with Ruth is their father. Not only is it a great color shot but it shows the stairs leading down in the old church from street level.
St. Rita's School Auditorium, 1952
Tony Della Croce sent over this great shot of a dinner held in the school auditorium as recognition for the Bazaar Committee. Tony also confirmed for me the school dates to 1926. Joe Schuchman informed me the auditorium, which was on the first floor, was transformed into Kindergarten and first grade classrooms as well as offices after the Youth Center was constructed. Joe also noted that Perry Como was a friend of one of the priests and was occasionally seen at the church.
Interior Shots
On the left this great shot comes from Charles Passantino during first communion, April 10, 1954. Joe Schuchman noted the shroud over the statue, traditional during Lent. On the right our great contributor Tony Della Croce sends in this shot from the late 1940s, during a procession of the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Wedding, April 30, 1955
From Leonora Licata, this is a shot of her at the old church as a flower girl for her cousin Pauline's wedding. On the right, the reception in the school hall, which was often rented out for occassions. From Lee; "In the picture are: from left, standing: my mother, Frances Licata, and her first cousin Tessie Fanelli (Tessie was my maternal grandmother's sister Mary's daughter (my mother's Aunt Mary's daughter. confusing!) Seated is my father's older sister, Rosina."

Two 1955 shots from Tony Della Croce that feature Shepherd Avenue. The first is of Father Vincent LaRocca, looking south down Shepherd. Tony speculates this was probably during the feast as the stanchions holding the banners are visible in the background. In the second shot Sister Mary Joannene is signing an autograph book on graduation day in front of the school yard.
St. Rita's Hoffman Club 1955
Pat Annuziata sent over this shot of the Hoffman Junior Bowling Club at Hales Lanes in the late 50s. That's "Mac" (an owner?) and Mr. Inguantis on the left. Mr. DeLuca and Father Antonelli is on the right. It has been clarified that "Mac" is Frank McCune (by his grandson) who helped run the league. Mack Kozin was one of the owners. Phil Aguece dates the bowling shot as 1955, the first year of the club. Joe Colantuoni ids himself second row, 3rd from left and Joe Giamundo on his left. Joe dates the picture as 1957.
St. Rita's Bowling Dinner, 1958
OK, I'm cheating a little because this is not East New York, but I've got a bowling theme going- Phyllis (Aunnunziata) Esposito sent in this shot of the 1958 Bowling Dinner which took place at the Patio Club.
St. Rita's Youth Center,1956
Tony Della Croce sends over this clipping from the parish newspaper, "St. Rita's Rose". It is dated April 15, 1956 and it shows the groundbreaking ceremony for the Youth Center which was located on the southwest corner of Atlantic and Shepherd. Tony identifies the following; "The priest turning the shovel full of earth is Father Fusco, the pastor. Also in attendance are Father Anthony Antinello (a curate at Saint Rita's) and Monsignor Arcese (the pastor of Nativity Church in Ozone Park). I'm the altar boy holding the Holy Water bucket. Fred Strianese is the altar boy holding the umbrellas on the right side of the picture."
-Mike Raffio informs me that is his father on the far left with the glasses, the owner of Zip's.
St. Rita's Youth Center Dedication, June 2, 1957
We are watching the procession from the church, looking west along Atlantic Avenue toward Essex Street. I matched a shot from today, though mildly depressing everything is still standing.
St. Rita's Youth Center Dedication, June 2, 1957
Looking south across Atlantic Avenue along Shepherd Avenue. This block was rededicated as Msgr. John T. Peyton Avenue in 2014. Msgr. Peyton served St. Ritas for 25 years until his passing in 2008.
St. Rita's Youth Center Dedication, June 2, 1957
A few inside shots. When I first got my hands on these images I immediately sent them to longtime site fan and supporter Tony Della Croce. His response; "The pictures brought a flood of memories back to me. I clearly remember the day (rain !), the procession from the Church to the Youth Center and the dedication ceremony itself. I am the altar boy in the very lower left of the first picture (side view); my cousin Sal Culotta is the altar boy serving as Cross Bearer. I also recognize several of the other altar boys and priests as well as a few faces in the crowd. (Could it possibly have been 57 years ago!)"
Also from Tony Della Croce, this December, 1956 shot of the interior was taken during a celebration of his parents (Sadie and Louis) 25th wedding anniversary. Tony is the altar boy on the right, Sal Culotta on the left. Presiding is Rev. George Albano.
St. Rita's Graduation,1956
Frank Catapano, (not the same Frank Catapano who taught at St. Rita's), sent in this graduation photo from February, 1956 taken in the auditorium. Frank IDs, left to right, Sam Gelato, Massimino Gironta, Frank Catapano, John Abbracciamento.
Confraternity News, 1956
Clippings sent in by Rod Maggio.
Graduation, 1957
Leonard Marsh sent this image of his sister Linda (second from front) lined up in church during the 1957 graduation. Leonard's 1959 graduation shots are below.
Graduation, 1958
On the left, Mike Albanese with his mother. On the right, Mikey IDs, "Pete Noto in front of me,Alex Biscuiti behind me and Frank Iovino behind him."
Graduation, 1959
From Leonard Marsh, on the left is Joh Giamundo (glasses), Leonard, and Phyllis Massucci. On the right, Leonard with his diploma while Rev. Santi Privitera is in the background giving Phyllis her diploma.
Graduation, 1959
Bill Marino points out he graduated in 1959 as well, from Kindergarten, and he has the certificate to prove it.
Wedding, 1959
Many thanks to Carol Sieranski Matteo for sharing images of her husband Michael's 1959 wedding day at St. Ritas.
Wedding, 1959
Two interior views from Carol's wedding, including a view of the stairs. Carol also sent a photo of the reception at the Showboat, which can be seen here.
St. Cosmo and Damian Feast, 1950s
Donald DiGennaro, St. Ritas class of 1962, sends in these great color shots from the mid 1950's. The Society still exists in Howard Beach, Queens.
St. Cosmo and Damian Feast, Poster and clipping
I actually found this poster on EBay. On the right, Paula Curci forwards a clipping dated Sept. 13, 1962 from New York's italian language newspaper, Il Progresso, celebrating the Feast of St. Cosmo and Damien.
St. Cosmo and Damian Feast, circa 1960
The next series of images comes from the Brian Merlis collection. They all all from the feast taken in the early 1960s. Ronnie Amerise recalls the procession used to start down by Glenmore Avenue, but moved to Liberty Avenue in the 1950s. If you can identify anyone in the pictures, drop us a line. The first one was taken on the corner of Essex and Liberty and the second along Liberty Avenue. The awning for the Blanda Funeral Home is visible on the left. Danny Blanda did some digging and believes the little girl (also in the picture below with fingers in her mouth) is Susan Filoteo. UPDATE: Susan confirms via our Guestbook!
St. Cosmo and Damian Feast, circa 1960
Mike Raffio identifies the orientation as a view south down Essex Street from Atlantic Avenue. "The black awning on the left side is Asselta's Grocery Store and on the opposite corner (not visible) was Barney's Candy Store and next to it was Willie's Pastry Shop and summer "Lemon Ice" stand." Mike believes this shot was taken at the start of the procession. I've had this story from Tony Della Croce for a long time, his experience with the parade.
St. Cosmo and Damian Feast, circa 1960
This picture, very similar to one above, shows Liberty Avenue off the corner of Essex Street. Mike Raffio points out his grandfather's famous "Zip's" Candy Store is the building with the two red circular Coke signs on the front. "The store is blocked from your view in these photos by one of the stands that was set up for the feast. It was the Zeppole stand. All night long during the feast, the smell of dough frying in hot oil would come right up into my room on the second floor. What a memory! They would fill a brown paper bag with hot zeppole and sprinkle powdered sugar into the bag. Delicious! We used to keep the store open at night during the feast and sell "ice cold soda" and watermelon slices out front."
Vinny Capasso noted the low brick building to the left of Zip's was the office of his cousin Phil Capasso's "Jimmy Boy" trucking co.
St. Cosmo and Damian Feast, circa 1960
Mike Raffio believes the shot on the left was taken across Essex Street from the old church. Vinny Capasso adds more details; "...the picture of the Saints on Essex St. across from the church in front of the brick facade, that was the entrance to the garages owned by the Ambrosio family, their house is to the right (the green door is to another garage, then the house was next.) Neil Ambrosio was a classmate of mine. In the house to the left of the brick entrance lived the Leone's." On the right Vinny supplied a 2011 update photo, and the arch is gone.
This view is looking west down Liberty from Linwood, with Liberty Park on the right.
The following series comes from Father Augustine, formerly known as Lorenzo Bilello and who graduated from St. Rita's in 1967. He is pictured on the left with Sr. Miriam. Fr. Augustine supplied this series of pictures from 1958 to 1962 of various sisters who served, and we could use some help on IDs. On the right is Sr. M Karina with her class in 1958.
On the left, Fr. Augustine identifies Sr. Karina and Sister A. Mary. Update - Tony Della Croce and his sister (Sister Mary Serafine, SSND) provided IDs as follows; "Top Row: Sr Alphonso, Sr Beata - Bottom Row: Sr Karina, Sr Ancilla, Sr Anthony Mary"
On the right, Sr. Karina in the schoolyard in 1961.
We can use help with IDs in these photos from 1960. In the picture on the right, Fr. Augustine identifies Sr. M Karina again but we need help with the others. Update - Tony and Sister Serafine help here as well; "Left Picture: Unknown, Sr Beata, Sr Valeria, Sr Carmina - Right Picture: Sr. Marie Damian, Sr. Carmina, Unknown (at rear in shadow), Sr. Valeria, Sr. Beata (Sorry, we do not agree that Sr Karina is pictured in this photo.)"
Fr. Augustine also supplied an image of Sr. Lidwina with him (Lorenzo Bilello) at his 1967 graduation. Tom Anastasio sent me a 1967 picture of Sr. Lidwina as well, on a class trip.
Courtesy of Carol (Sabatino) Courcy, from her 1961 confirmation.
St. Rita's Xmas party, 1962
John Holotko Jr. sent in this next series of shots, all from his 1962 kindergarten class. We are looking for help IDing the kids in these pictures. George C. Pizzo IDs himself as the boy on the far left with his hand near his mouth. In the picture on the right, Loretta Prisco IDs herself in the blue dress.
St. Rita's Xmas party, 1962
Second set of shots.
St. Rita's Xmas Play, 1962
Also from John, a set of shots from the Christmas play. We are also looking to ID everyone in the shot.
St. Rita's 1964
Tony Della Croce sends over these shots of the facade in 1964 right before it was torn down along with the rectory to build the new church.
St. Rita's 1964
Two additional shots from Tony Della Croce shows the rectory, which sat to the left of the church, and the convent, which sat to the right.
St. Rita's
From the 1966 publication commemorating the new church, a shot of the original from Shepherd Ave . On the right, the cover of the publication showing the new church.
St. Rita's Kindergarten Graduation June 14,1964
The "Amazin' Cin", Cynthia Rongione sends over some classic shots from the St. Rita's School auditorium. Therese Panariello is holding the flag in the first shot. Tony Davenport confesses he is the blond boy all the way on the right in the bowtie. That's Cynthia performing a curtsy in the second shot and she identifies Miss Dorothy (full name Dorothy Koss) as the teacher.
St. Rita's Kindergarten Graduation June 14,1964
Second set of shots from Cindy. We need some explanation on that hula thing, Cindy identifies the girl on the right in that shot as Mary Jane Prizzi. Cindy is with her parents in the second shot. Ed Giugliano explains that the hula dance was part of a celebration of the World's Fair taking place in New York. There were dances to celebrate different parts of the world, and Ed performed in the Mexican Hat Dance! He claims there are no pictures, but you never know!
St. Rita's Kindergarten Graduation June 14,1964
From a different source; old pal Pete Colantuoni sends over his performance which we can assume was for Holland given the wooden shoes worn by the girls. We're getting closer Ed! On the right, the diploma awarded to the class.
St. Rita's First Communion, 1964
From Robert Iannotta, some 1st communion pictures. He doesn't look too thrilled about being on camera. He believes that is Steven LoPiano with him in that shot, if you're out there Steven let us know.
St. Rita's Construction
From the 1966 publication, two shots of the church under constructions in 1964 and 1965. Thanks to Pete for the additional shots from that book. Pat Annunziata tips us off that the building on the right with the word "yard" was Marion Yard.
Pete Colantuoni sent in these shots from the mid-1960s. On the left is a first communion shot not of him but of Ed Gugliano, and on the right a mock baptism is being performed in class. Pete identified Jacqui Ruvolo as the girl holding the doll and Jeff Ruvolo is looking towards the camera. Therese Panariello identified the "priest" as Richard Morganelli and the "husband" as Richard Rivera.
Some more mid 60s shots from Pete. In the classroom on the left, that's Pete on the far left. Seated in the front are Jeff Ruvolo, Peter Parella, and Bernard Divone. Behind Bernard is Jackie Ruvolo, and behind her Francis Ricco, with Steven Leong on his right. On the right, Pete outside the school with some classmates including Tony Esposito second from the left. Thanks to Therese and Jeff for the IDs.
Bill Marino sent this great shot from 1965. The view is north toward Atlantic on Shepherd Avenue and it features classmates from Sr. Kristen Marie's 6th grade class.
"Back row (L-R): Mary Leone, Margaret Pelo, Giovanna Capozzi, Vincenza Belmonte and Amelia Lubrano.
Front row (L-R): Rosemarie Pellegrino, Rose Tammero and Margie Iovine."
Richard Moore sent over the Graduation program from 1966, (and the class picture which is on the class pictures page of course).
Frank Lombardo sent over this 1969 Program for a play given to the PTA that apparently included a fashion show. I saw a lot of familiar names so now we need to find some pictures!
Robert Iannotta sent in this shot from 1970 at his 8th grade graduation. Pictured with Robert is Father Schiraldi, "who was in charge of the St.Rita's Brass Ring and Drum and Bugle corp which my brother belonged to in the 60's...". Robert's photo reminded me my brother has a postcard of the shrine (Our Lady of Fatima) published by the Tyler Specialty Co. in Texas.
St. Rita's Nuns
More great contributions from Joann Montgomery. On the left is a shot of sister Bridgette in 1963; Mike Pataky and Annette Cipriani have identified the nun on the left as Sr. Miriam. On the right, from a 1964 trip to Washington DC are sister Julie and sister Thomas . Vinny Capasso tipped us off it is Frank Casillo with his hands up in the background.
Kindergarten graduation, 1969
Pat Boccio sent over a picture taken on his kindergarten graduation day in 1969. Standing behind him are his grandparents Anna and Vincenzo "Jimmy" Boccio. His sister Jeanine is standing beside him.
Charles O'Berry sent these shots circa 1971. On the left is Fr. Variale. Louise Berry is pictured on the right.
Charles O'Berry also sent this shot of Lori and Dawn Russo, we need help IDing the nun in the picture. UPDATE: Tony Della Croce to the rescue! His sister, Sister Mary Serafine, finally id'd the nun as Sister Michelle Marie, School Sister of Notre Dame.
St. Rita's Nuns
An undated photo of the sisters from Danny Blanda.

Graduation, 1972
Gail (Pennisi)Lazzinnaro sent in this shot of Margaret Farino, herself, Sr. Peters, JoAnne Florio and Maria Savanetti in graduation day, 1972.
St. Rita's Church, 1972
Gail sends in this 1972 shot of Vito Giamundo in front of the church, 1972.

On the right, a shot circa 1971/72 from Joanne Florio. In the back, Frank Saporito, next row, Joann Wilker, Katherine Simmonetti, Kathy Coletta , Rosa Chiccarelli , Ann Salerno. Front row: Helen Papalardo,Cynthia Rongione, Joanne, Therese Panariello, Mary Byrnes.
St. Rita's Graduation, 1972
Therese Panariello sends in some graduation pics which show the interior of the church. The first two are facing the rear; that's Therese and Peter Parella in those shots.
Washington D.C. trip, 1972
From Therese Panariello; I got a jump on the names from her Facebook page but we have a long way to go, including matching names and faces
Louise Pagano, Therese Panariello Ringle, Peter Downey, Tony Davenport, Maryjane Prizzi, Sue Colantuoni, Terri Salerno Towers, Al Boccio, Josephine Sheldon, Mike Messina, Frank Saporito, Annmarie Competello, Steve Leong, Janet Morla Wahrenburg, Ronald Albanese, Louise Luhrs, Mary Alice Pendelton, AnnMarie Bifulco, Mike Raffio, Gennaro Simonetti, Mr. Nostramo, Joseph Oddo, Vinny Cannistraci, Butch Simonetti, Margaret Farino, Mr. Noststromo, Jerry Salvia, Mary Ann Lombardo, Robert Garcia, Louie Ambrosio, Sr. Peter, Regina Vitolo, Peter Divone, Debbie Geremia, Jacqueline Ascenzi, Ralph Raffio, Joanne Wilker, Theresa Ambrosio, Joanne Florio, Edward Guilianino,George santos, Phyliss Borngiorno, Bernard Divone, Vinny Boccio, Anthony Cordella, Kathy Simonette, Pauline Aielllo, Peter Downey, Marie Sullivan, Pete Colantuoni
St. Rita's Confirmation, 1970s
Nilda Ruiz provided a series of photos taken on confirmation day in the 1970s. That's Sister Peters in the shot on the left and the Bishop in the shot on the right.
St. Rita's 1970s
Also from Nilda Ruiz. the shot on left is in front of the Rectory. Vinny Capasso IDs his younger brother Anthony "Spanky" Capasso holding the camera! The 1978 shot on the right is in front of the school yard.
Wedding, 1979
Lee Licata sent these June 1979 shots from the wedding of Francine Giugliano including one taken by the school.
St. Rita's Faculty, 1979 and 1980
Marie (Sullivan) Raffio attended St. Rita's and went on to become a teacher there. She sent in these shots from her faculty years, and also sent along pictures of the second grade class she taught in those years. Her own 1962 first grade class picture and those 1979-1983 second grade shots can be found on the St. Rita's class pictures page.
St. Rita's Faculty, 1981
Many thanks to Marie for supplying these pix.
Charles O'Berry sent this shot of a "reunion" with Fr. Zanon in 1984.
Thanks to Neil for these 2006 shots of the church and school.
In October 2012, there was a reunion at the school. The Diocese has merged what was St. Malachy's, St. Rita's, St. Michaels and St. Fortunata into one school, Salve Regina Academy. The school will be housed in the former St. Michael's high school building. It appears the former St. Rita's school building will be some form of shelter. Joann Montgomery sent over a series of pictures from that reunion.
On the left, Joann shows Miss Dorothy's classroom. On the right is Ms. Esposito (her teacher!) and the back of the indefatigable Tom Atanasio, who set up the reunion and was a non-stop source of assistance during Hurricane Sandy.
On the left, Sister Bridget's room. On the right, Sister Joseph's room. Note the foldaway beds. Thanks again to Joann for the shots.