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Golfing event raisesfunds for St. Robert

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Under sunny skies and a cool breeze, a group of devoted parishioners of St. Robert Bellarmine in Bayside gathered for an afternoon of golf and an evening dinner Monday in an effort to raise funds for the church's school and honor the memory of the church's late pastor.

More than 110 golfers participated in the third annual Monsignor John B. Lavin Golf Outing at Harbor Links Golf Course in Port Washington, L.I. After the outing, the golfers joined parents of St. Robert students and other church supporters for a catered dinner in the Harbor Links dining room.

All the money raised from the golf outing, donations and raffle tickets will go toward the school's media center and cafeteria.

During the dinner, the church gave this year's Monsignor John B. Lavin Award to Baysider Bob Coccia for his commitment to the church.

The golf outing first started in spring 2005 to raise funds for the school. After Lavin died the following winter, event organizers decided to name the event after Lavin and later created the Lavin award as a way to recognize parishioners who exemplify the same kind and devoted spirit as the late pastor.

"Bob truly exemplifies that," said Patrick Russo, a St. Robert parishioner for the past 30 years. "He is a great steward."

Monsignor Martin Geraghty, St. Robert's current pastor, said he heard about Coccia and his involvement with the church before he even came to Bayside and was still a pastor in Rockaway.

Coccia, who owns Bob Coccia's Appliance Center near Bell Boulevard and is a St. Robert trustee, was joined by his wife Barbara, two children and two grandchildren at the event and said he was very proud to be receiving the award.

At the event, St. Robert supporters also remembered Lavin as a pastor who could be counted on to be there for his parishioners.

"He always had a smile on his face," said Kerry Hom, who helped organize the event and has four children attending St. Robert.

Since its inception, the charity event has grown each year, Hom said. Last year, the event raised $15,000, which went to new paint and carpet in the school's two libraries.

The annual event is a great way for the school to raise the extra funds it needs without having to raise tuition, she said.

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