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In the early 1990’s, Msgr. John J. Gilchrist and the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Newark discussed the idea of having an annual gathering; whereby, we would honor one individual from the Business sector and one individual from the Labor Unions. This fundraiser would bring members of these two communities together confirming just how well these two groups work together, with mutual respect and cooperation, as well as confirming how their lives intertwine on a daily basis. And, it was decided back then that all the proceeds from these annual events would benefit the youth of the Archdiocese through the programs organized by the CYO Office housed within the Archdiocesan Retreat Center in Kearny, New Jersey.
Eventually, this new idea became a reality, when the very first Business and Labor Recognition Reception was held in 1994, honoring Mr. Arthur E. Imperatore-Business Honoree and Mr. Edward Pulver-Labor Honoree. This event proved to be most successful and was truly well received by both the Business and Labor Union Communities. Consequently, the BLR Reception was born!
Since that first Reception in 1994, and still today, the nominated Business & Labor Recognition Reception Honorees have been pillars of their communities, as well as accomplished and well-respected men and women who were blessed with sincere and generous hearts.
To date, in the last 27 years, the BLR Reception fundraiser has raised more than $5,000,000.00. And, all of the proceeds have been earmarked for the children of the Archdiocese through programs; such as: CYO Camp, Retreats, Scouting, CYO Athletics, etc.
A Special THANK YOU to all of the fine men and women who over the years have been honored at the Business and Labor Receptions. YOU ALL have helped to lay the foundation that we continue to build on and maintain today!
YEAR BUSINESS Honoree LABOR Honoree
1994 Arthur E. Imperatore Edward Pulver +
1995 Lawrence R. Codey Samuel I. Caivano +
1996 Robert E. Mulcahy, III John J. Barry +
1997 Martin R. Vitale Harvey Whille
1998 Arthur M. Goldberg + John J. Sweeney
1999 J. Fletcher Creamer, Sr. + Thomas P. Giblin
2000 Lawrence R. Inserra, Jr. George DuBose
2001 Joseph M. Sanzari John Hibbs
2002 John F. Reinhart Michael Sacco
2003 William J. Marino Charles E. Wowkanech
2004 Joseph Azzolina + Richard K. Dressel
2005 Dr. Ralph Izzo Patrick J. Brennan
2006 M. Brian Maher Don DiLeo
2007 August & Gary LoBue Thomas J. Manning
2008 Jeffrey Vanderbeek Raymond Pocino
2009 Timothy H. Shinn Laurel Brennan
2010 Angelo J. Genova, Esq. David Jones
2011 Dean Janeway Martin J. Schwartz
2012 Robert A. Facchina Alphonse Rispoli
2013 J. Fletcher Creamer Jr. Gregory Lalevee
2014 Dominick J Romano Harry J. Harchetts
2015 Dewey Cannella Matthew Molinaro
2016 Alexander M. Gerardo Joseph F. Denmark, Jr
2017 Louis LaSalle Richard E Tolson
2018 Joseph Sheridan John T. Niccollai
2019 Aron Forem Msgr. John J. Gilchrist +
2020 David M Daly Joseph J. Elmo
2021 The Unsung Heroes of the 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic
2022 Thomas Calimano John F. Capo
*Names with cross (+) are deceased
Msgr. John Gilchrist-Gone … but never forgotten!
Msgr. John Gilchrist born in 1929 and was the first of six children of Mary Irene and John Charles Gilchrist. He grew up in Nutley, N.J., and then later in Belleville N.J. Msgr. Gilchrist entered the Seminary in 1951.
Upon his ordination in 1957, Father Gilchrist spent several months in Saint Mark’s Parish in Rahway, N.J., and was then was assigned to Saint Cecilia’s Parish in Kearny, where he served for 21 years. While at St. Cecilia’s Father Gilchrist taught in the both the parishes High School and Grade School. The Priests assigned to St. Cecilia’s also served the local West Hudson Hospital in Kearny. During Father Gilchrist’s time at Saint Cecilia’s, he began a Saturday morning program for young people with Down syndrome. He also began writing a column for the Catholic Advocate Archdiocesan newspaper that continued until the paper was discontinued.
It was during these years that Monsignor became involved with Local 68 of the Operating Engineers and it marked the beginnings of his associations with various other unions within the State of New Jersey.
After St. Cecilia’s Father Gilchrist spent two happy years at Saint Nicholas in Jersey City. In 1980 he was assigned Pastor at Our Lady of Fatima in North Bergen, N.J., where he continued for 13 years. As Pastor, he served for a time as dean of North Hudson and as the Vicar for Pastoral Life in the Archdiocese of Newark.
In 1993 he was given the title of Reverend Monsignor, by then Pope John Paul II, and was appointed as leader of the Commission for Jewish-Christian Affairs, a post he held for a number of years, and developed relationships within the Jewish community that lasted to the end of his life.
His involvement with Social Justice Issues began to increase as he was approached by tenants who faced eviction unjustly. He was able to work with others to develop a tenant advocacy group in Hudson County as a result, and their accomplishments were many. That also led to successful struggles for affordable housing opportunities for people afflicted with HIV/AIDS.
In 1993 Monsignor was appointed the Pastor at Holy Cross, Harrison, N.J. His work within the Archdiocese continued, as did his involvement in the social issues. The work with the labor unions became even stronger. His efforts went into maintaining and supporting the parish’s grammar school. At the end of his term at Holy Cross, the parish shared with him the joyful celebration of his 50th anniversary of priesthood.
In 2007 Msgr. Gilchrist retired as the Pastor of Holy Cross in Harrison, and then came to live here at the St. John Paul II Youth Retreat Center – what then was called the Archdiocesan Youth Retreat Center. Msgr. Gilchrist continued to work with the various unions here in NJ, and abroad. He was a regular fixture at the daily 8am mass held at the Retreat Center and could be seen on Saturday nights celebrating mass in the Sacred Heart Chapel as well.
On April 17, 2018, after 61 years of ministering to so many as devoted priest, Msgr. Gilchrist returned home to our Heavenly Father. On the announcement of the passing of Msgr. Gilchrist, one of the union leaders wrote this to all of his members: “Over the years, Msgr. Gilchrist’s words and prayers have resonated from picket lines to union meetings all across the state. With soft-spoken poise and a beaming optimism, the weight of his words have empowered, guided, and united generations of working families.” Through all of these years, his consistently strong affection remained with his work with the labor unions. The International Union of Operating Engineers was first, but then followed the Building and Construction Trades, the Food and Commercial Workers, the Teamsters, the AFL-CIO and others. They found a true friend and advocate in Msgr. Gilchrist, and he found a multitude of true friends in the men and women of Labor.”