Cardinal’s Business & Labor Recognition Reception

Started over 30 years ago to help support the works for the Office for Youth & Young Adult Ministry, CYO Programs and the St. John Paul II Youth Retreat Center, this event has raised over $5 million in its existence.

The Business and Labor Committee


The Business and Labor Reception Committee is made up of Professional Men & Women, along with many others who have since passed on, that donate their time and talents to help carry on the tradition of this CYO fundraiser – which benefits the ministries of the CYO and the children of the Archdiocese. 


Currently the Cardinals Business and Labor Reception Committee includes the following:

Mr. William T. Mullen – Reception Chairman & President, New Jersey State Building and Construction Trades Council

Mr. Thomas P. Giblin – Reception Co-Chairman, Business Manager , International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 68

Mr. Charles Wowkanech – Reception Chairman & President, New Jersey State AFL-CIO

Fr. Timothy Graff – Archbishop’s Labor Liaison

Mr. Thomas G. Conboy – Director, CYO/Office for Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Mrs. Gerry Ricci–Menegolla – Office Manager/Executive Secretary/ BLR Coordinator – CYO/Office for Youth & Young Adult Ministry

Mr. Harvey Whille – President, United Food & Commercial Workers-Local 1262

Mr. Michael E. Hellstrom – Vice President & Eastern Regional Manager, Laborers’ International Union of North America – Eastern Region

Mr. Fritz Schneider – International Representative, Laborers’ International Union of North America – Eastern Region

Mr. Alphonse Rispoli, Jr. – President, Teamsters Joint Council – No. 73 and Teamsters Local Union 863

Mr. Joseph F. Demark, Jr. – President and Business Manager, Local 25 – Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association

Ms. Laurel Brennan – Secretary-Treasurer, New Jersey State AFL-CIO

Sr. Doris DeLotto – Business and Labor Representative

Mr. Rocco Lepore – President, Essex County Building & Construction Trades Council and International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825

Mr. Louis LaSalle – Senior Vice President,  RWJ/Barnabas Health

Ms. Cynthia McCarthy – Communications Director — UFCW Local 1262

Mr. Christopher DiMeo – NJ State Building & Construction Trades Council


If you would like to support the work and efforts of the Cardinals Business and Labor Reception by making a donation, attending the event, placing an Ad in the Program Journal Book, or more please contact

Gerry Ricci-Menegolla

Office Manager/Executive Secretary
201-998-0088 x 4154


Tom Conboy

Director, Office for Youth & Young Adult Ministry
201-998-0088 x 4146


Past receptions


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 31 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. 

Past Honorees

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
2023                Joseph S. Colalillo                          Sam Ferraino
2024                Matthew Loughlin                          Michael E. Hellstrom              

*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.”