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Bishop Reilly seeks lost grads for 41st reunion

A yearbook from Bishop Reilly High School shows student photos, including one of John Peiser.
TimesLedger Newspapers

A committee of seven has been tasked with finding nearly 450 graduates of a Fresh Meadows high school that no longer exists. Members of the Bishop Reilly High School class of 1971 have organized a reunion set for early next month with hopes of bringing everyone together again.

“It’s always great to see your old classmates and what becomes of them,” said John Peiser, an organizer of the 41st reunion. “It’s an amazing thing. You find that you immediately reconnect and it’s as if you had been talking to each other yesterday.”

The Bishop Reilly High School once thrived where St. Francis Preparatory School now stands, at 61-00 Francis Lewis Blvd. Only eight years after it opened, the Diocese of Brooklyn sold Bishop Reilly HS in the late 1970s, making it difficult for graduates to find old classmates for reunions.

But that is not stopping Peiser and his classmates from organizing this year’s 41st-year high school reunion.

The class will gather at a combination picnic and New York Mets baseball game June 2 at Citi Field in Flushing. The picnic is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. inside the Bullpen Plaza before the game’s 4:10 p.m. start. A full section in right field was reserved for the group, Peiser said.

Peiser said the group tried arranging a reunion last year to mark 40 years since graduation, but a date was never confirmed.

According to Peiser, the class also secured a donation from a classmate’s employer, Hugh O’Kane Electric, to defray expenses and provide tickets to graduates who had entered the religious life.

But the biggest task, Peiser said, has been finding and contacting his former classmates.

“We spent an entire weekend going through Google searches trying to find and local people,” Peiser said. “We found we were successful for about 75 percent of the people on the boys’ side. But the girls’ side has been more difficult.”

Since the school was separated between genders, he said finding the men has been much easier considering that women often change their names when they are married.

That is where class of 1971 graduate Liz Perillo Pennisi came in.

Perillo Pennisi’s assignment is to find more than 200 of her former female classmates.

“It’s been a lot of fun. When you get to be this many years away from graduation, people really spread out,” she said. “I’m really excited to bring it all together.”

Perillo Pennisi said the class of 1971 organized a reunion in 1981 and it was much easier to find her classmates after 10 years.

“This is a pretty big undertaking,” she said. “We want to get as big a turnout as we can. I’d love to see at least 200 of our classmates, considering there were more than 450 graduates between the girls and boys.”

She said that though she has been a lifelong Mets fan, the reunion is what is important.

Classmates looking for more information on the reunion can visitbishopreillyhighschool1971reunion.vzwebsites.com or call Peiser at 917-881-9930.

“It’s nice that after all these years we will still get together like it was yesterday,” Perillo Pennisi said. “Only this time, we won’t be wearing uniforms.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573

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