Great Letters

These letters are addressed to all of us.

Hand written, typed or Emailed


From the    guestbook    on the website

January 30, 2012

what a delightful 3 hours mom-Ann CASSIDY-DEVANEY - and I just had navigating this website. She is in Florida (doing very well) and I am home in manasquan n.j. and i was able to talk her through many pictures on various "older links"-catskills, 1944 reunion etc. where we laughed and cried. We miss daddy JOSEPH DEVANEY CLASS 1944- so very much. It is so wonderful that people have sent all of these pictures, so that we could go back to Ascension and even to gaelic park and rockaway! What an absolute joy for both of us. To see all of the wonderful, wonderful people that were friends of momma and da, and parents of the children I grew up with- the Luckies, Zonnevelds, Walls,Conroys, O'Briens, the list is endless between the good fortune I had to be their daughter, live on 225th-St.John's - and Rockaway (we lived all summer on 92nd street and da"s brothers and cousins stretched all over that town and into Breezy Point (Eddie Conroy) and north to 89th st. (St.Rose ) where I babysat for Tom Cody and his wife, Nancy. I took the time in 2004 to go with my parents to the 60th reunion, I wanted to see all of their friends, and I had one of the happiest days with them. ( I was the one who took the class picture in front of church). We even wandered up to Cannons for a warm beer with Mrs. Wall (Kay). Mr. Denis Sheehan- I especially want to thank you and Mr. Jack Cleary for all the archived pictures and keeping a record of those days. You were (are) the finest men I have ever met, and it was such an honor for me to know many of you (Joe Lynch I have not forgotten you torturing me as a little girl!). Tonight I was back on 106th street and amsterdam ave, a little girl, and looting the men at Barrets bar when da would get a REAL quick beer,( ann ran a tight ship!) and I made out like a bandit from all the dollars I would be given . Sadly, we have lost many, but no one is ever really gone as long as they are remembered. I remember you all. Thank you- Joanne Devaney Lepis-



February 8, 2010

Hi Ed

Thank you for the response.  The site is great! I am so appreciative of the effort you have put into it. It is rare to be able to connect with your elementary school after so many years. The best part is that my family still lives in the neighborhood and I frequently have the opportunity to pass by the school.  We also still gather at the church for all family events. No matter how near or far we live myself and my siblings have all return to Ascension church to be married, to baptize our children and for funeral masses for our departed loved ones.


I have wonderful memories of my relationship with the Sisters of Ascension. Their discipline and teachings have served me well in life and I have been able to pass on those same values to my children.  I lived 3 door away from the convent so I spent a lot of time with them after school. They even taught me to dance the Savoy


Unfortunately, we had an unfortunate incident in our childhood home that destroyed all of our belongings so I do not have any pictures. I am hoping that an old classmate might be able to duplicate our graduation picture for me.  Does the school have any pictures of events such as the Glee Club shows or plays?

Myrna Toro ‘66

September 23, 2008

An Ascension Tale


To say that I was the most popular student in my class would be a huge understatement.  In fact, if I e-mailed any of my classmates, they would more that likely not know who I am. My only claim to fame, sad to say, is that my mother passed away while I was in the eighth grade. That fact might jog a few memories.


I was raised by my mother, since my father passed away when I was two years old. He left us a very small pension which mom put to good use.  We lived on 113th street, in a single furnished room. We shared the one bathroom and kitchen with four other people.


But there was a reason that we lived there. Living there meant that she would have the extra money to send me to Ascension school. She loved the idea of the leadership, education, and relegious teachings that was so important to a young mind.


I still remember my enrollment and our first meeting with Sister Julia, who my mother really liked. The instructors included: Sister Mary Aquin (sorry about spelling) for 1st grade, Sister Patrick, Sister Thomas.


The fourth grade had Brother James, then Brother Henry, Brother Kevin, then Brother James for the 7th and 8th grade.


Somehow, mom always found the money to not only pay for the tution, but also to bring cakes for the nuns and brothers. And, of course, flowers for the altar.


She would always take me to school in the morning, meet for for lunch, and meet me again at 3pm. Rain, snow or sunshine, and even when she got cancer, she would still be there for me.


The cancer came in 1956 when I was in the 6th grade. She was in the hospital, St. Lukes, for about a month. They told her brother that it was terminal, which I found out years later. They released her from the hospital, and we went back to our normal lives, so I thought.


One day, in 1958 while I was in my 8th grade class, she fell and the pain was intense. She called for help and was sent to St.Lukes.


Meanwhile, Brother Cohan, our princapal, told Brother James, that he needed to speak to me.  I went into the hallway, and I could see that something happend by the look on the good brother's face. He placed his hand on my shoulder and told me what happened to my mother. I lowered my head and started to cry. He placed his hand on my chin and raised my head and told me "Don't worry, God will look after her".  That was one of the kindest things, that anyone ever said to me.


Later that month, my uncle came to pay the tuition, but Brother James said "to let it ride". What kindness that was shown in a world where money is everthing. I still don't know who paid that tuition.


After St. Lukes, she was sent to the House of Calvery, then to Belleview Hospital.


December 31, 1958, when she was 36 years old, God finally said 'Enough is enough! Come home" She began her happiness on that day.  In January, 1959, Brother James had a mass said for her, and the entire 8th grade was there. They were my family, my brothers. 


Upon graduation in June 1959, we all went to pursue our lives and dreams. I did go back to Ascension in the early sixties for a class reunion. I was alright inside the school, but when I left and was walking down the front steps, I looked at the spot where my mother would usually wait, but sadly, she was not there.


We all have our opinions of the years we all spent at Ascension. Some have their own opinions of the teachers, the homework, and punishment for talking. But I think we can all agree that the foundation that they installed would have a lasting effect.


We all have our own stories, during and after our graduation. But, regardless of the year of our graduation, the students and teachers will always be united to Ascension.


And even today, as the 50th aniversary of my mother's death approaches, at times, I still find myself back in 1954, it's 3pm, and I'm walking down the front steps of Ascension, and my mother is accross the street waiting for me.


I share my story, not looking for any sympathy, but just a tale. Another Ascension School Tale.


John P. Ciresi, USAF Ret.

Class of 1959 


Wow, John Ciresi’s story, posted on our web site, is really powerful; sad and uplifting!

I’d like to express my thanks to him for sharing that small glimpse into his rough beginnings.

His story should remind all of us that it was a fortunate privilege we shared to have had the opportunity to the excellent education that Ascension offered.


John’s mother sounds like she was truly a saint and I’m sure, as John indicated, she is enjoying the well deserved happiness of Heaven.


Don McKenna ‘49


Peggy –

I wanted to let you know this wonderful news. 
I mentioned a couple of years ago that I've been trying to become a Deacon with my parish.

Well, I  just got the word today that I have been accepted to the Permanent Diaconate.

Now it is all on me to accomplish this for the next five years.
It's been a long uphill battle.

The Bishop in my area, particularly the previous one, put an age limitation on all candidates.  Since I was over the age limit, I've been trying to reason with the "powers" to no avail. Then we get a new Bishop who happens to be from Philly and the Chair of Vocations for the United States, and things started to move.

Wrote him a personal letter, he liked it, called me for a meeting and the rest is history.

I'm not "there" yet.  My wife and I have a lot of retreats and praying to do in the first year before my, our, studies get serious.. 

Please keep me and my lovely bride in your prayers

Take Care, Tap Twice, and Love One Another as He Loves You,

Semper Fi,

Les Boone ‘60


January 29, 2008


Peggy Wynne Plunkett ‘49

Hackensack, NJ


A note to those who will remember my oldest brother Ed Wynne. Ask for your prayers.

He passed away last week.1/16/08 in Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. He led a solitary life.

Lived with our mother in the Bx. until she passed on Thanksgiving Day 1992.

He's with our parents now in St. Raymond's Cemetery in the Bx.


Father Duffell, our wonderful pastor at Ascension, responded, without a moments hesitation to

have him at the gravesite. (and it was cold)


My brother Hugh lives in E Rutherford NJ

I’m in Noo Joisey, Frances Wynne  Brennen lives in Rochester NY(???) when she and Will are not in Atlanta GA with cherished 1 year old Elizabeth.


We lived at 216 W 108th. Brick to brick with the convent in those years.


Didn’t know until I was an adult (when did that happen?) that my mother also went to

Ascension, somewhere around 1921, after coming from Wales in 1911.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t make the 2007 reunion but plan on making the next, whenever.

Thanks for listening.



From: Emcfoto
To: JPDuffell
Sent: 1/21/2008 11:14:44 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: 1960 Grad


Hello Fr. Duffell,

I thoroughly enjoy receiving the AAV and especially reading news of former classmates, especially from 1960 and grateful the alumni association has continued.  In speaking with friends who graduated from other elementary schools, I realize the strength and devotion of the group to keep the association alive, as their school alumni association is not as active. Kudos and a big shout-out to the commitee members.

Can you let me know how to get involved and help with the next reunion?  I've been wanting to do this for some time now and decided this year I'm going to step up to the plate.  With some of my skills I believe I can assist in either the next publication of AAV or in helping to coordinate the next reunion.  Please let me know what I can do to help ...and I still live in the area.

FYI - Both my sisters, also graduated from Ascension ...Marguerite Collazo, presently lives in Puerto Rico and Jennifer (Romero) Collazo lives in San Diego, CA.

Evelyn Collazo
134 West 87th Street
New York, NY 10024




December 30, 2007
Thomas P. Smith
6644 Evelyn Place

Riverside, CA 92504

Dear Friends,
     I received your November 2007 newsletter. Thank you.
Two points: On the front page is a picture of ten people from the class of ‘57. I was in that same class, but I cannot recognize any of the people in the photo, and no where in the newsletter are the people identified. Do you know who they are? If so, please send me their identities on the photo.
     Also, you can add my e-mail address to your database. It is
     The second point is that Bobby Eiermann wrote a note that was published in the newsletter. He was also in the class of ‘57. I wrote him a letter, and attached some pictures, and sent it via e-mail. It came back as “undeliverable”. Even a short note came back the same way. Do you have an updated e-mail address for him? If not, can you send me his home address so that I can write him.
Thanks for your help.
Thomas P. Smith


September 24, 2006

It was with Regret that I read in the Ascension Alumni Obits the death of two of my Classmates of the class of 1940. James Thomas O’Brien,a.k.a. Jim O’Brien, who was a “kid” with red hair. The last time I saw him was at an Ascension Reunion at Manhattan College. He told me about his Irish musical group. He was always a happy go lucky guy.

The other was Paddy O’Brien, (Patrick Benedict O’Brien), a.k.a. Brother Benignius Daniel F.S.C., and later changed to Brother Daniel O’Brien, F.S.C. He and I were altar servers together at Ascension. (Yes his brother Philip was also a Christian Brother, I believe class of ’36, a brother “Chick” or Charles, and a sister Kitty.) Paddy, Frank Carr’40 Maurice Griffin’40 and myself attended our first year at Cardinal Hayes High School at St Bernard’s Annex in 14th Street in downtown NY. Paddy was also one of our “Rockaway Group” who were at the beach during the summer. This group also included Jim Brady ’40, George Donohue ’40, Artie O’Connell ’42, John Eaton ’40, John McGourty ’40, Jim Conboy ’40, Mary Eaton, Theresa McCann, Maryellen O’Toole plus others.


Jim Blaney ’40 -----See EARLY ‘40S GROUP


September 13, 2006

          Just wanted to ask for prayers for my Mother Mary C. Martin, 95 years old. In Roosevelt Hospital. We just had a nice visit to Ireland to her home town. Her primary school was just refinished. She is the oldest living student, started in 1915 when the school was built. She had great grand nieces and nephews attending. For several years now she has been writing to the students (all 32 of them) They send her letters and cards and she answers them all. Her great grand nephew visited her here in New York in March and asked her if she could come home for the rededication...SHE SAID YES...which shocked us all. So all of us went with her. She was the special guest of the day. We had an O'Donnell reunion..when all heard she was coming. She is the matriarch of the O'Donnel clan from Peterswell in Galway. Well over 100 attended the reunion, from LA, Dublin, Galway of course and from a dozen other counties not counting the 90 odd nieces and nephews and their children and their children and from Cork we had relatives from my fathers side.. When we got home and I was settling her she said that day was the best day of her life... She is a "Powerful women" (thats what the folks in Galway call her. Am sure she will do well and get home soon..

Thank you,

Mary Martin ‘55




The call came on December 19, 2005.  It was her birthday and her daughter, Trish, called to tell me that her mother, my dearest friend, was gravely ill.  The ventilator that was keeping her alive would be removed the next day.  After 27 years of suffering with M.S., Margaret Alice McGroary Yorke was going home to God.  I was able to go to Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck, NJ to say goodbye to her.  She was unable to speak, but as her children and I stood around her bed, she cried, and I felt she knew we were there and she understood what we were saying to her.  On December 23rd she died.


We met in first grade in Ascension and remained close friends for over 60 years.  I have such wonderful precious memories of Margaret.  As young girls, we would run to Horn & Hardart’s Automat on 104th Street and Broadway and for a few nickels, have lunch and run back to 108th Street before the lunch bell rang.  The bell announced the end of lunch and the assembly of each class in line.  Sister Julia Miriam and Sister Marguerite were principals of Ascension in my time and the official “bell ringers”.


After 8 years in Ascension, Margaret and I and a company of our classmates entered Blessed Sacrament High School on West 70th Street.  Since we both loved to dance, we spent every weekend running to dances.  Holy Name on Friday, Notre Dame on Saturday, and on Sunday we ventured over to St. Vincent Ferrer.  Occasionally, when Annemarie Kavanagh Mazzeo could coax her wonderful father into driving us to St. Brendan’s in the Bronx, 8 or 10 of us would pile into his car and off we’d go.  If we didn’t get a ride back home, we’d all take the subway, then a nickel, back to Ascension.  Our summer weekends were spent in Rockaway, dancing at Gildea’s or Allen’s or the Leitrim House and getting sun burned on the beach.


Margaret leaves behind five amazing children and 6 grandchildren who loved her and took care of her, yet through all her illness, she remained the matriarch of her family.  Dan Yorke, her husband, died 8 years ago.  Needless to say, Margaret and Dan met at a dance at St. Stephens of Hungry and from the night they met, they knew they were ment for each other.  Now, they are together once again.  Please say a prayer for Margaret and he family.


Rose Flynn Contini

Class of 51’


March 15, 2006

Hi, some old photos from our time in Ascension from some of the class of ‘42

Not all are still here and having the photos brings many memories back. Good years to remember & the friends we’ve sustained over time.

The Alumni Voice is great to read and realize, time passes, oh, so quickly.


Mary McAllister Prior 1942


October 20, 2005

Hi Ed: 

       It has been a long time since writing to you.  I enjoy reading all the remarks from the young folks.  The stick ball, the stoop ball and all the things we did back in the 30's.  Nothing has changed but the names of the participants.  I do remember vividly the Parish House either 107th or 108th street between Manhattan Ave and Central Park South.  We used to play basketball and swim in the pool and during the fall and winter months there was no heat, but we were good Irishmen and could take the cold.  Having lived in the southeast and southwest for over fifty years, I am not sure I could take the cold anymore.

       I had good intentions to attend the festivities on the 22nd but do to a daily medical procedure Grace and I are unable to attend.  But someday I'll get back to Ascension.

       I have sent in the raffle ticket and by separate mail I am sending dues and something for the Scholarship fund.

      We do hope you have a successful reunion and I can't wait to see the pictures.    


Owen J. Costello  (36)


September 21, 2005

To Whom it may concern,

We would like to tell you how much we enjoy your newsletters. It brings back such wonderful memories. My husband graduated from Ascension In 1935. You’ve been sending the newsletter to Michael O’Connor.

My husbands name is Michael O’Connell (known to all as Mickey O’Connell) from 107th and Amsterdam Avenue.

My Maiden name is Rita O’Brien. I went to PS 165 on 108th Street. I attended Ascension Church.

God willing we will celebrate our 62nd Anniversary on June the 4th of 2006. We were married in Our Lady of Mercy on Fordham Road in the Bronx, NY

We remember Clem’s candy store on 106th and Amsterdam, then Kirsch’s between 106 & 107th.

We attended the PAL functions; I think it was 108th & Manhattan.

Father Donahue was the pastor. Mike had Brother Benedict and Brother Charles-.

I attended Sunday school with Sister Loretta.

Please continue to send your newsletters, we enjoy them.

God bless you. Thank you,


Rita O’Connell

414 Elderberry Ct.

Mt Laural NJ 08054

(856) 235-4250


September 16, 2005

It was good to finally come across the Ascension School web page. I recently saw some pics in your newsletter of some of my old buddies from 104th Street - I lived around the corner from 104th at 438 Central Park West. I went through Ascension from the 1st through the 8th grade. I also recently saw a posting from an old classmate and friend of mine (Jim Purcell) from the class of '48. My sister Catherine White graduated in the Class of '45.

Frank White ‘49


June 22, 2005

Dear “Fellow Ascension Student”,

I was a student there in 1932, ‘33 and ’34 and for the first time in 71 years I dropped by there this past Friday!

What a joy to meet Father Sean McCaughly- one hell of a fine man! And he told me that another classmate (back in my “period”) had “organized” a group of fellow students

(at Ascension) and sends a “news” about “fellow classmates” now and then.

Please send me a copy, if you can.

Jack O’Connell

We O’Connells lived at 325 West 108th St. in 1932, ’33 & ’34. Currently, since 1971- ’72 the Bloomingdale School of Music (Founded in 1964) has occupied #s 323 & 325

Editors note:

Jack enclosed a history of his schooling ending with degrees earned at Harvard and Princeton and a listing of his accomplishments in theater and advertising experience.


June 8, 2005

Correction for the Newsletter:

The “L” train that turned at 110 Street went down Columbus Ave.

also known as 9th Ave.

The “L” was removed on 1938-1940 and shipped to Japan to be used by their military during World War II.

The independent subway was on 8th Ave. by central Park and built during the 1930s to replace the “L” train.

Michael J Purcell

Classs of 1939


June 8, 2005


Thought the McInerney story was outstanding.

Too bad there is not a publication/contest to which it could be submitted.

It was a story from the heart- good and bad- yet filled with warmth, honesty and told it like it was.

Maybe AARP might be a venue.

Peggy McGuinniss


June 8, 2005

So glad to receive the Alumni news- what a delightful pair you were able to interview in Florida!

The Campbells were our friends & neighbors (same part of Ireland as our Father) and it’s sad to hear of another death in their family.

Our brother Tom passed away several years ago, but there is still my sister Anna and brother Michael hanging in there with yours truly.

The Newsletter is great-

Mary McAllister Pryor

Class of 1942


June 8, 2005

Ascension Alumni

I was very surprised today (May 5, 05) when I found out that “House” magazine. May-June issue published my story about my young years in Ascension Neighborhood.

It could be put on Ascensionweb-site, I could forward to whomever, in charge of Ascension Alumni news.

As the editor & owner of “House” Magazine is an Ascension Alumni Class of “44”, Denis sheahan, I sent him my story.


Mary Hennessy Trotta

Class of “48”


May 13, 2005

May 6, 2005

Dear Sir,

In case you are not aware of it I wanted to let you know that Sister Margaret Regina Hartnett SC died on April 3rd of this year.

She was my second grade teacher at Ascension and was truly special; to me and to my mother. After many years I was able to reconnect  with her and last year when my mother was hospitalized at St Vincent’s hospital, Sister Margaret Regina came to visit with us. I’m sure that her prayers helped to bring about my mother’s recovery (she was 98 years of age at the time). Would you please include something on Sister Margaret Regina in your next newsletter? A copy of the Catholic NY obituary notice is attached.


Brenda A Ewald ‘56

240 Garth Road

Scarsdale NY 10583


P.S. What are the chances that we can have Sunday brunches or other informal gatherings of alumni in Manhattan, NY for those of us located in the area?

April 7, 2005

The other nite when I was sending information about Sr Margaret I read "Pope Memories"

I don't know if you know that Fr Ed O'Brien's sister is a Sister of Charity & had been a nurse @ St Vincent's Hosp.

I printed the column & brought it with me into NY for the wake & funeral. I gave it to one of the Sister's to give to Fr's sister. Sr. Marita Rose is at the Sisters Nursing Home (Yonkers) & was able to come down. 
Fr Duffel was at Sister’s funeral Mass - only had a minute to talk.

During the wake &/or funeral saw some others from Ascension Sr Elizabeth McLoughlin,'43? - Sr  Mary O'Brien,'46 – Sr Nancy McNamara'47 –

Sr Nora Cunningham, Sr Pat McGowan &  Peggy McKiernan

(last 3 were taught by Sr Margie). Sr Angela Marie Rooney & Sr Miriam Thomas Collins taught at Ascension  were also there. Others could have been there I did not see.
Helen Montaigne '47 


March 24, 2005

From the Guestbook

My mother and two uncles were graduates,

Mary, Daniel and Edmund Kissane.

I went to Ascension for five years 1957-1962 before moving to Hicksville.

I remember Jimmy O'Rourke, Thomas Vitello, Mark Cunningham,

Johnny Templeton, Gregory Roberts and

Brothers Cassian John, Francis and Michael.

Mr. Romero was my choir teacher.

I also had Sisters Madeline, Bridget and Maria de Lourdes. I also had Mrs. Geiss in

4th grade.

They were good days.

Good luck to all,

William J. Kilfoil