2o18 Speakers…

Deacon Richard Bilella

Deacon Rich was born in Washington, DC at the end of World War II, was raised in Queens, NY and has lived in Huntington and Centerport, LI for the past 60 years.  He makes is home there with his wife of 50 years, Joann Rose.  Rich and Joann have two sons, both married, and have five grandchildren.

In 1968 Rich graduated from Pratt Institute, NY with a bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Management.  After two year active duty in the United States Navy aboard the destroyer USS Rich he started his career in food service management by joining Saga Food Service Corp and eventually the Marriott Corporation where he served as the Director of Dietary Services at several regional hospitals and Nursing Homes including United Presbyterian Nursing Home and Health Related Facility, Winthrop Hospital and Booth Memorial Medical Center.

In the early 80’s, the administration at Booth Memorial asked Richard to join their team with the contingency of continuing his studies. In 1986 he received his MBA in Hospital Management from Adelphi University and his career continued to flourish as a Vice President for Professional and Support Services at Booth and as the Vice President of Operations for New York Primary Care, LLC, a physician group consisting of 42 primary care physicians and specialists.

Rich is currently an off-site physician practice administrator for Mount Sinai Hospital running operations at Mount Sinai Doctors Forest Hills, Middle Village and Maspeth all in Queens, NY.

Deacon Rich’s spiritual journey began in the late 1970’s and continued on through 2007 when he was ordained a Deacon in the Catholic Church, received his second master’s degree in Pastoral Care in 2008 and now serves the people of God at St. Hugh of Lincoln Church, Huntington Station, NY.

Father John Franco

Father Franco was born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens, NY where he attended Archbishop Molloy High School. He began his studies for the priesthood at the St. John Neumann Seminary Residence, Riverdale, NY in 1998 after graduating from Manhattan College with a B.S. in Psychology. He continued his studies for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Northhampton, PA and Saint Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, NY from 2000 to 2004 where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology, Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Dogmatic Theology. He was ordained at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on May 15, 2004 by Cardinal Edward Egan.

Father Joseph E. Franco was assigned to Sacred Heart & St. Francis as a parochial vicar immediately after ordination in May 2004. He served in that capacity from June 2004 until September 2008; then as parish administrator from October 2008 until Sept 1, 2010 when he was appointed pastor by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

In additional to his pastoral responsibilities, he also serves as a staff chaplain at the James J. Peters VA Medical Center in the Bronx and as a department chaplain for the NYPD. He was the chair of the Northwest South Bronx Catholic School Region Board from 2012 – 2017 and chair of the Resource Center for Community Development from 2013 – 2016. He is currently a board member of the following organizations: Highbridge Community Development Corporation (HCDC), Hearts Home –USA, and Cardinal Hayes High School.


Michael O’Rourke

As creator and head of The O’Rourke Group at Oppenheimer & Co. Inc., Michael leads his team with an extraordinary understanding of financial markets and investment vehicles, along with unparalleled judgement and decision making abilities.  Michael continues to exemplify he is a highly strategic thinker with a proven aptitude to operate successfully in “for profit” and “non-profit” environments.   Michael provides guidance at multiple levels within various organizations and works in collaboration with the Consulting Group of Oppenheimer Asset Management Inc.

Michael is a cum laude graduate of Fairfield University in 1974 with a B.A. in Liberal Arts and a major in Classics, for which he received his university’s Lieutenant William Koscher award for top honors.  In 1982, he earned an M.S. in Finance by completing Columbia University’s Executive M.B.A. program.

Michael continues to serve on many boards in his community and is known to be a center of influence in the tristate area. In 1998, he helped found Malta House of Good Counsel as a home for single, homeless, expectant mothers in crisis.  Malta House has sheltered more than 350 women and children over the past 12 years and has emphasized education, training and career development so that its “alumnae” can support their children.  Michael also serves on the Finance committees for the Diocese of Bridgeport and The Malta Human Services Foundation.

Michael has been a member of Oppenheimer’s Executive Council for the past 6 years, which is a prestigious recognition awarded to Oppenheimer’s top advisors.  He holds the General Securities Representative License (Series 7) and the Uniform Combined State Law Examination (Series 66). Michael is also licensed as an agent in Life, Health and Variable Annuities in the State of Connecticut.

Michael lives in Stamford, CT with his wife of 41 years and their son, Conor.


Dr. Michael Brescia

Dr. Michael J. Brescia received his BS degree from Fordham University in 1954 and his Medical Degree from Georgetown University in 1958. He interned at Nassau County Hospital 1958-59 and completed his residency at the Bronx VA Hospital from 1959-62.

Dr. Brescia is Co-founder and Executive Medical Director of Calvary Hospital, Bronx, NY and is overseeing Calvary’s expansion into other acute care hospitals. Calvary Hospital is the nation’s only hospital devoted exclusively to the palliative care of patients suffering from advanced disease and is considered a model for the continuum of care of these patients.

Dr. Brescia is the inventor of the Brescia-Cimino fistula, an internationally renowned hemodialysis method, a major milestone in the field of kidney disease and used almost exclusively for artificial kidney therapy. In 2016, he was the Honored Guest Lecturer at the 45th VEITH Symposium in New York to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the development of the Brescia-Cimino fistula.

Dr. Brescia holds academic appointments as Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine at the New York Medical College, Valhalla, NY; Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine at Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, Middletown, NY; and visiting lecturer at Fordham University, Bronx, NY.

Dr. Brescia’s many awards include: Federal Government Commendation for Advances in the Field of Hemodialysis,1968; Good Samaritan Award from the National Catholic Development Council, 1981; Il Leone di San Marco Award for Medicine, The Italian Heritage Committee, 1991; Americus Award for Outstanding Physician, Bronx Community College, 1993; Honorary Doctor of Science Degree, Fordham University, NY, May, 1994; Sr. Mary Concilia Moran, RSM, Award from the Catholic Health Association, June, 2000; The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Annual Award in recognition of his commitment to medicine and health care in New York, September, 2000; Ellis Island Medal of Honor, 2002; Graymoor Community Service Award, 2004; Special Achievement Award for Humanitarian Service, National Italian American Foundation, 2005; Peer to Peer Excellence in Medicine Award, Bronx County Medical Society, 2007; Achievement Award, National Society for Diagnostic and Interventional Nephrology, 2008; Honorary Degree, Doctorate of Humane Letters, College of New Rochelle, New Rochelle, NY, May, 2009; Pioneer of Care Award, Terence Cardinal Cooke Flower Ball, New York, April, 2010; People of Life Award, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, 2016; John Cardinal O’Connor Award from the Sisters of Life, May, 2017; The Saint Alphonso Fusco Award presented by Sisters of Saint John the Baptiste, Providence Rest, Bronx, NY, May, 2017; Rose of Carmel Award presented by Carmelite Sisters of Ozanam Geriatric Foundation, May, 2017.

Dr. Brescia has lectured extensively nationally and internationally on palliative care in advanced disease.


Sr. Joan Curtin

For more than 30 years, Sr. Joan Curtin, CND, has been director of the New York Archdiocesan Catechetical Office, where she supervises a seasoned team of religious education professionals in providing theological, pedagogical and spiritual formation to several hundred parish catechetical leaders and approximately 10,000 volunteer catechists. These, in turn, hand on the Catholic faith to almost 100,000 children and youth in ten counties.

A native of Woodside, New York, Sr. Joan was educated in a Catholic parochial school and graduated from St. Jean Baptiste High School in Manhattan. This school is administered by the Congregation of Notre Dame (CND). Sr. Joan entered this religious congregation and has been professed more than 45 years. She is a graduate of Notre Dame College, of St. John’s University (Staten Island, NY) and she earned a master’s degree in Religious Studies from Manhattanville College of the Sacred Heart in Purchase, New York. Sr. Joan did post masters studies in spirituality at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. She is a certified Spiritual Director.

In 2004, the National Catholic Education Association presented her with it’s a prestigious C. Albert Koob Award for her outstanding contribution to Catholic education. She currently serves as a member of several boards, including the American Bible Society, the Museum of Biblical Art, the Catholic Education Institute, Saint Joseph’s Seminary, The Propagation of the Faith, the American Mental Health Foundation, and on her provinces leadership team. She has also served on the NCEA Board of Directors, the Center for Lay Leadership Formation, and several school boards.

Sr. Joan has given workshops to Catechetical Leaders, catechists and teachers throughout the country and has published religious education materials for the high school level.


Msgr. Dermot Brennan

Born in New York City in 1930, Msgr. Dermot Brennan attended Corpus Christi Parochial School, Cathedral College and St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie and was ordained in 1956. His ministry has included teaching for 12 years in archdiocesan high schools, 12 years as an assistant pastor and 25 years as a pastor, 5 at Our Lady of Victory Parish in Mt. Vernon, NY and 20 at St. Patrick’s Parish in Yorktown Heights, NY. He holds a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Teachers College, Columbia U, conducted the music for the papal Mass at Yankee Stadium in 1979, and has authored a book on using visuals in children’s homilies and performs Magic as a hobby. He is currently retired from parish administration but is still very active in priestly ministry.


Fr. John Michael Lee

A native of Toronto, Canada, He has preached across Canada, the USA, and Jamaica West Indies.Fr. John holds a BA, from the Passionist Monastic Seminary,; a B.Ed. from the University of Toronto; an M.A. from St. John’s University, a Master of Divinity from the University of St. Michael’s College and a Certificate of Theological Studies from The Institute for Spirituality and Worship at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. His ministry included youth outreach in parishes and schools, parish and retreat leadership, social justice advocacy, and adult education.Fr. John has been the Retreat Director at Bishop Molloy Retreat House since October 1, 2008.