SUMMIT, NJ - Mark Giangiulio, General Manager/Managing Agent of The Grand Summit Hotel; and the Ippolito Family of Paul Ippolito Memorial will be among the distinguished honorees when the Dominican Nuns of the Monastery of Our Lady of Rosary host their annual Gala October 20 at The Grand Summit Hotel.

Giangiulio and the Ippolitos will be joined by Buddy Fortunato, Owner / Publisher of The Italian Tribune, with each having played a significant role in helping the nuns fulfill their sacred mission: to offer their hearts and prayers for the salvation of the world, and to provide a place of welcome, comfort and hope for all those who visit their chapel.

A veteran of the hospitality industry, Giangiulio began working at The Grand Summit Hotel in 1994 after serving as Director of Sales & Marketing for the Palm Air Resort & Spa. Prior to that, he was Director of Food & Beverage at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. It was when he first came to Summit, he says, that he immediately reached out to his neighbors “on the corner” and called to ask if there was anything he could do for them.

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After discovering that the Dominican Nuns could use some assistance with their holiday meals, Giangiulio responded by providing them with prepared three-course dinners several times a year. He has also helped with kitchen equipment, repairs and essential interior work.

“Over the years, the Dominican Nuns of Summit have become true friends and I deeply value our relationship,” said Giangiulio. “They are very loyal and supportive, and all-around good people. Their entire mission is for the betterment of mankind, and they are the only people I know who have ‘no other agenda.’ Supporting them, to me, is just the right thing to do. I will always be there for them, just a phone call or email away.” Giangiulio also assisted them with fundraising in the early days of their capital campaign, and continues to provide a great deal of support for their annual gala at The Grand Summit Hotel.

Since 1900, Paul Ippolito Memorial has been serving the funeral needs of families in their local communities, currently in Berkeley Heights, Summit, Caldwell and surrounding areas. As a family-owned business, the Ippolitos -- Paul, Anthony, Andrea and Angela -- are able to work closely with the families they serve to fulfill and accommodate individual needs and desires regarding the funeral services of loved ones. It is their goal to make each and every funeral service a dignified and respectful ceremony that truly reflects the life that has been lived.

“Our family has always felt it a great privilege to serve the sisters, and we are very touched that they have chosen to honor us at this year’s gala,” said Angela Ippolito. “We’ve been in Summit for 52 years, and the sisters have always been a part of our lives. When a call would come in to serve them, my late father (Paul Ippolito III) would drop everything to go over and meet with the prioress. He deeply understood how it was for them to lose one of their own. My father never expected any payment, but the sisters would always insist on ‘paying him’ with bread and jam that they made themselves.” Last year, the Ippolito family generously underwrote one of the large stained glass windows destined for the front of the new wing as a meaningful way to honor their father’s memory and the devotion he had for the sisters.

Fortunato has long been a dynamic, dedicated member of the metropolitan area’s large Italian American community, and a champion for Italian heritage and culture in the United States. He had an initial career in finance after college, followed by eight years in the New Jersey State Assembly. But his love for and pride in his Sicilian heritage eventually led him to purchase The Italian Tribune from his father-in-law in 1999 and take the helm as publisher. Under his leadership, the scope and influence of the English language Italian newspaper increased on a grand scale.

As a man of strong religious faith and a Knight of Malta, Fortunato says he is honored and humbled that the Dominican Nuns have selected him to receive this recognition. “Each day, we should cherish the spirit and principles of our faith, and none exhibit this example more fervently than the Dominican Nuns,” says Fortunato. “My wife Marion was educated by the Dominican Order and forever carries those lessons and the bonds that they created. As Sister Mary Catharine has said, the function of the Order is to touch the heart of the world. It is their message, and it has a place in all of our hearts and our souls.”

Fortunato is deeply devoted to the sisters, and committed to using his resources to help his readership audience understand more about them and the work they do. His efforts have increased interest in the Dominican Nuns and their day-to-day lives, and boosted fundraising for their ongoing Centennial Campaign to raise money for critical improvements and a much-needed new wing.

The Dominican Nuns’ life is made possible through the generosity of their benefactors. The nuns work to support themselves through their handcrafted Seignadou Soaps, Cloister Candles, and St. Joseph’s Woodshop handmade pens, which they sell in their small vestibule gift shop and their online Cloister Shoppe. As they are witnessing an increase in young women attracted to their life committed to prayer ad contemplation, there is now a need for more space to foster this growing community and to accommodate those coming to discern their vocation.

The Nuns are more than halfway toward their $4 million Centennial Campaign goal, which will fund a 5,500 square-foot, new wing that will fulfill their needs. “The success of the Centennial Campaign will ensure a safe and secure future, not only for the sisters, but for visitors of all denominations who come to this sacred space seeking comfort and solace through prayer,” said Maryann Cocoziello, the Centennial Campaign’s Director of Development. “We are hopeful -- no, optimistic -- that the Gala will give us an enormous boost towards achieving that goal.”

Tickets to the Gala, which is co-chaired by Gina Wood of Mendham and Susan Janazzo of New Providence, are $300 per person and include cocktails, dinner, dancing, raffles and auction. Preceding the Gala, which is slated for 6:30 - 11 p.m., there will be a 5:30 p.m. Mass at the chapel of the monastery, located at 543 Springfield Avenue.

All proceeds from the Gala will benefit the Centennial Campaign. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit 501auction.com/dominicangala2016, or contact Maryann Cocoziello, Director of Development at development@summitdominicans.org, or 201-452-4996.