St. Agnes Dinner Dance celebrates supporters of Catholic education


Hundreds gathered at the Grand Lannin in Eisenhower Park on Saturday evening for the St. Agnes Cathedral School’s annual Dinner Dance event.

The annual event is held in recognition of members of the school community who have continued to show their support for Catholic education.

Carol and Francis Ruchalski were recognized for their ongoing support of Catholic education with the St. Thomas Aquinas Award, which was presented by their two daughters, Ashley and Lyndsey Ruchalski, and their son, John Ruchalski — all three of whom graduated from the St. Agnes Cathedral School.

The Ruchalski family has been raising awareness of pediatric cancer on Long Island in memory of their daughter, Mary Ruchalski, a former St. Agnes student who died in March 2018 of rhabdomyosarcoma. To date, the foundation has raised nearly a half-million dollars towards cutting-edge research at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories in the hopes of providing new treatment options.

Carol served as a Girl Scout troop leader and was a member of the St. Agnes Mothers’ Club, and Home School Association. She was also instrumental in bringing back the beloved Children’s Christmas Boutique.

Francis served as a member of the St. Agnes Fathers’ Club and was a member of the school board in 2016, during which time he served on the finance committee and helped resurrect the St. Agnes Cathedral School’s Alumni Association.

José and Tanya Prince were presented with the St. Catherine of Siena Award, which was presented by their three children, Joseph, Thomas and Anna Prince, for their continued commitment to Catholic education.

Dr. José Prince helped establish the level 1 pediatric trauma center at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, the largest in New York state, where he currently serves as Surgeon in Chief and leads a team of pediatric surgeons.

He is also a professor of surgery and pediatrics at the Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the director of the Laboratory of Pediatric Injury and Inflammation at the Feinstein Institute’s Center for Immunology and Inflammation. His work was recently featured in the 2023 Netflix documentary, “Emergency NYC.”

His wife, Dr. Tanya Prince, specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, and along with her husband, works as a clinical assistant professor at Hofstra’s Zucker School of Medicine.

Tanya served as a member of the St. Agnes Mothers’ Club for many years, serving different roles at countless events, including the Garden Potpourri, which she helped lead for three years. José also served as a member of the St. Agnes school board for three years and was an active participant in the Fathers’ Club.

St. Agnes Principal Cecilia St. John presented the final award of the evening, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, to Assistant Principal Mary Brower in acknowledgment of her 18 years of dedicated service to the Catholic grammar school.

Brower started her career in education as a classroom-teaching assistant and enrichment technology teacher at Hewitt Elementary in the Rockville Centre School District, before being hired by St. Agnes as the school’s computer teacher in the summer of 2006. 

During her tenure with the school, she witnessed as technology became increasingly more advanced, and students shifted away from the iMac computers to individual iPads and devices. She moved into an administrative role in 2016, as the technology coordinator at the school, and in 2021 was officially named the new assistant principal at St. Agnes.

Beyond her commitment to St. Agnes, Brower has conducted workshops and courses at Adelphi and Molloy universities. She also assumed the role of assistant curriculum head of technology, supporting teachers and administrators throughout the schools in the Diocese of Rockville Centre.

“It was such a great event. The venue was beautiful,” St. John said. “It was really a wonderful night for Catholic education at St. Agnes.”

Following the award presentations, the ceremony concluded with closing remarks from Father Michael Duffy, rector of the St. Agnes Cathedral parish, followed by dinner and dancing to the music of the Silver Arrow Band.