The Department of Education Center in Hicksville was alive with activity on the Wednesday of Holy Week as ‘Operation Baby Hat’ drew to a close with the delivery of 2,069 baby hats to Catholic Health Services (CHS) representatives.

The hats were all knitted, crocheted or loomed by faculty and staff members of Long Island’s Catholic elementary schools and diocesan high schools, the diocesan Human Resources Department and friends of the schools. The project was initiated in response to New York State’s ‘Reproductive Health Bill.’

The program, initiated by Diocesan Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kathleen Walsh, was a very real way for people to express their support for life.

“People responded to the call” said Dr. Walsh. “What started out as a modest program to express our support for life turned into something that our dedicated faculties and staff members really got behind.”

With an initial goal of 1,000 hats, it soon became clear that the schools would significantly exceed expectations. “It was a timely project, and one close to the hearts of many of our employees,” said Nora Aufiero from the Department of Education who coordinated the event.

Some of the schools who contributed the greatest number of hats were on hand for the presentation. Toni-Ann Russo from St. Mary’s School in East Islip said that for their faculty the project was an “opportunity to do something that illustrated their support of life.”

Chris Hensen from SS. Philip & James School in St. James said “The project brought added joy into their building.”

At Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville  “the project began with three hats in a basket… and grew and grew,” according to Kathy Moran, principal. Students from Holy Trinity, below, helped carry all the boxes of hats to cars for delivery.


Luisa Reichardt from St. John the Baptist High School captured the soaring spirit of the high school with her simple question; “What can we do next?

The baby hat project is one of a number of education initiatives in the ‘Faith in the Public Square’ program that seeks to focus community attention on issues facing all Catholics.

Joseph Lanzetta, CHS director of planning and community health said “Our partnership with the schools puts CHS professionals into the high schools to discuss career options in healthcare, and now results in this beautiful show of support for our most vulnerable.”

“Catholic Health Service’s Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) and Mother Baby Units will benefit from this beautiful gesture.”

Educator Trish Boshak from Holy Angels Regional School in Patchogue summed it up nicely, saying “Project ‘Baby Hat’ was a spiritual, rewarding and amazing bonding moment for all of us. The hidden talents of many were revealed and celebrated along this wonderful journey. We were proud to add our voice to this reminder of the value of all life.”


Gregory A. Shemitz photos