When the Diocese of Rockville Centre abruptly announced it was closing McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead through a YouTube video in March 2018, it left a trail of unhappy alumni and parents.
By May 4, 2020, the Diocese had sold the vacant building to the Peconic Bay Medical Center Foundation.
The building has sat vacant ever since, and some of its contents remain. So what’s still inside?
We’ll find out Saturday, June 19, when the PBMC Foundation holds a free raffle of Mercy and McGann-Mercy memorabilia at the school from 9 a.m. to noon. It’s open to Mercy alumni and their families and friends.
The raffle will include more than 100 items, among them yearbooks, banners, jerseys, a poster of Pope John Paul II, a water cooler and three golf bags.
“When the school closed down, it was abrupt. A couple of other organizations tried to buy the building but it fell through,” said Maureen Brady Curzio, who is coordinating the event for the PBMC Foundation.
“Our president and CEO, Andrew Mitchell, felt that everything happens for a reason and clearly the school is in the backyard of the hospital. We put our financials all together and we bid on it and lo and behold, it’s ours.
“One of Andy‘s biggest things is to try and help the community heal because of the way everything was done. So he asked me to put together a small committee, which I did, consisting of some alumni, some staff and some board members, to try to come up with a way to help the community heal,” Ms. Curzio said.
The raffle may be a little disappointing for some.
“We had hoped to be able to do tours of the school, but there was a flood over the winter so we can’t,” she said. “Everybody will have access to the gym. But Northwell Health would not allow me to have people in the building. The gym and the floor of the gym are OK.”
PBMC is part of the Northwell Health system.
There are no trophies left, Ms. Curzio noted, and there is no running water or heat, so the bathrooms can’t be used.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre removed some of the contents while it still owned the building and offered them to other Diocesan schools on Long Island, she said.
“I think a lot of people were hoping the trophies would be there,” she added.
The yearbooks, especially recent ones, are the most prevalent items up for raffle.
For some of the more recent years, so many copies are available that rafflers don’t have to put a ticket in the bag.
For example, 40 copies of the 1997 yearbook are available, and people can just take one without using a raffle ticket, Ms. Curzio said.
By contrast, only three yearbooks each are available for 1980 and 1981, so three winning raffle tickets will need to be picked for each year.
Participants will receive a list of what’s available at the outset.
The raffle will take place in the gym, where people can sign up and receive raffle tickets. From there, they can place their tickets in the item’s bag. Participants must wear masks inside the gym.
The foundation will pull the winning tickets at noon and all winners will be called and advised to collect their items by 2 p.m.
The foundation is hoping alumni “come see old colleagues, bring a chair and gather outside,” according to a Facebook site set up for the event.
Items that aren’t picked up by 2 p.m. will be taken to PBMC’s Entenmann Campus on Second Street in Riverhead and can be called for there.
The foundation also is working with Riverhead Free Library to get all of the Mercy yearbooks put on microfilm, Ms. Curzio said.