A History of Action and Growth

Taken from The Building Dedication Journal October 27, 1968

In early 1957, Charles P. Cuccia conceived the idea of a new Knights of Columbus Council for men of the Town of Mount Pleasant. He requested permission from the Rev.Bernard G. King O.P. pastor of Holy Rosary Church, to form a Council, and with the guidance of Fr.King and assistance of District Deputy William A. Doorley, actively solicited members. St.Dominic Council No. 4399 was chartered on May 19, 1957 with 75 members.

The first officers were elected that same month, including Grand Knight, Charles P. Cuccia; Deputy Grand Knight, Enrico M. Caruso; Chancellor, James P. Murphy; Treasurer, Edward J. Shields; Financial Secretary, James J. Hogan, Jr.; Recording Secretary, Frederrick V. Eich; Warden, Richard C. Fisher; Inside Guard, John Smith; Outside Guards Martin J.Thornton and Frank Hodapp; Trustees, Alexander J. Negrey, William J. Collier and Rufus S. Barton, Jr.; and appropriately the first Chaplain was Fr. King.

In its formative months, the Council continued its drive for new members along with initiating a program of Catholic, Council, Fraternal and family activities. A blood bank was established in September 1957, a midget basket league established for boys, a group of Squires was formed, Christmas Parties, Quarterly Corporate Communions, Holy Hours, and other Functions held.

The first meetings of the Council were held in the Holy Rosary School in Hawthorne. Desiring a "place to call home", the Knights rolled up their sleeves in 1958 and renovated the burned out basement of the Church at 560 Manhatten Avenue in Hawthorne. After cleaning debris, digging out part of the basement, enlarging the meeting room, reinforcing cieling beams, and installing two bathrooms, floors, walls and ceilings were refinished. A tired but contented group held their first meeting in the new Chambers on September 2, 1958.

In June 1959 Enrico M. Caruso was elected as Grand Knight and the Rev. Charles B. Carroll became our Chaplain. Grand Knight Caruso continued previous activities, many of which he had instituted as Deputy Grand Knight and renewed efforts to promote Columbianism. He initiated many other activities, including a bowling team and assisted in founding our sister organization, the Columbiettes.

Charles P. Cuccia was rewarded for his inspiration and efforts, on behalf of St.Dominic Council, and was appointed District Deputy by State Deputy Emmett Burke.

In 1960, St.Dominic's Association, Inc. was formed with the aim of obtaining property or a building for the council, along with promoting a center to encourage fraternal activities. On April 19, 1960, the first officers were elected as follows: President, Julius C. Aucello; Vice President, Anthony V. Mareski; Secretary, John P. Christie; and Treasurer, James J. Hogan, Jr.

President Aucello, along with many other Knights, persistently searched several years for land or a building.

In June 1961, Richard C. Fisher became Grand Knight and under his guidance, membership and activities increased and efforts by the council to provide activities for members and to raise funds for a building. Our first of many major events, the Annual Masquerade Ball was instituted in 1961.

Grand Knight Fisher was succeeded by Anthony V. Mareski in 1963 and he continued the impetus and accelerated efforts to select a building. The Rev. Daniel L. Shannon O.P., our current Chaplin assumed his position that same year. It was at the end of Grand Knight Mareski's term of office that negotiations were made for our present building at 874 Franklin Aveenue in Thornwood.

Julius C. Aucello was elected Grand Knight in June 1965 and continued as president of St.Dominic's Association, Inc. he had been instrumental in negotiating for the property as president of the Association and on July 28, 1965 purchase of the "Old Pioneer Firehouse" was made.

President Aucello provided the dynamic leadership and momentum in the renovation task. Alterations were discussed by the board of directors, and plans for the renovation drawn by architect Paul A. Mezzone, a council member.

Once again the members lent their support and a transformation miracle began. A dirt floor was replaced by cement, ceilings reinforced, columns and partitions removed and others installed. The bare exterior walls were insulated. New wiring was installed, men's and ladies rooms added, and a new kitchen, equiped by our Columbiettes. The floors were tiled and refinished, pannaling, indirect lighting added and the first and second floors decorated.

The first floor now has a kitchen, two bathrooms, bar and large activities area. A lower level contains a game room, and the upper floor a large meeting room.

Our current Grand Knight, James J. Hogan, Jr., was elected in June, 1967. He worked energetically to provide funds and was instrumental in bringing the building to its present condition while at the same time , promoting use of our council chambers for the enjoyment of our members and the Columbiettes.

Vice President John T. Martimucci succeeded Julius Aucello as president of St.Dominic's Association, Inc. in June 1968. He has continued policies established previously and initiated new programs.

Past Grand Knight Aucello was appointed District Deputy by State Deputy James E. Foley, the second member of St.Dominic Council to be so honored in its brief 11 years of existence.

Thoughout its short history, considerbale time and effort has been expended by our members on the building program, yet at the same time, continuing the 6 point program to provide planned activities for members and their families, as well as promoting charitable, religious and social welfare, patriotic activities and youth projects.

Annual donations have been made to Rosary Hill and Mercy College to assist the mentally retarded, a blood bank established, communion breakfasts held and respect extended to deceased members and thier families. For yuoth, scholarships have been provided, oratorical contests held as well as parties and other outings. Social, athletic and fraternal affairs for members and their families have been sponsored including dances, picnics, parties and dinners.

The council now sponsors 3 bowling teams, a golf team that has won several trophies, and a monthly newspaper, the Dominican, that won second prize in a statewide contest. Many prominet individuals have presented talks to our members including topics such as narcotics, the Peace Corps and artificial respiration.

Today, October 27, 1968 is an important milestone in the history of St.Dominic Council, and with the help of God, success of our Council will continue and expand.