Fr. Dominic J. Schiraldi  

Moderator of St. Rita’s Brassmen


By Maria Costa



Dominic Schiraldi was born on April 21, 1921, in Brooklyn, New York.  He grew up in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn and was a member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish. It was there that Dominic met “Major” Tom Costa in 1937, the founding director/instructor of the Mount Carmel Cadets.  He developed a life-long friendship with Tom and a love for drum corps.

 Three of Major Costa’s cadets went on to become top drum corps instructors and future members of the World Drum Crops Hall of Fame. Carman Cluna, Joe Genero, and Robert “Pepe” Notaro were members of the Mount Carmel Cadets’ horn line.  All of their paths would cross again in years to come.

 Dominic followed his calling to the priesthood at the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, and was ordained on May 22, 1948, in the Diocese of Brooklyn.  Fr. Schiraldi’s first parish assignment was at Our Lady of Loretto R.C. Church.  At that time, the parish had a Boy Scout drum and bugle corps.  Fr. Schiraldi wanted to transform this group of young boys into a championship corps and requested that Tom Costa be brought in as their new instructor.  Sal “Sonny” Calvagna, a future director of St. Joseph Patron/St. Rita’s Brassmen, was there in 1948 when Major Costa arrived.  He was a horn player in the Boy Scout corps.

 After only two years at Our Lady of Loretto, Fr. Schiraldi moved to the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in Ozone Park in 1950.  Once again, he called Tom Costa to come to his parish and organize a drum corps.  The Nativity Cadets went on to become one of the top standstill corps in New York State.


In 1959, Fr. Schiraldi was reassigned to St. Rita’s R.C. Church.  Years later, Tom Costa received the inevitable telephone call.  Fr. Schiraldi wanted a drum corps.  Unable to refuse his friend of so many years, Tom started a beginner corps.

 Because of their close relationships throughout the years, Carman Cluna and Sal Calvagna contacted Tom Costa when the St. Joseph Patron Cadets were left without a home.  Tom approached Fr. Schiraldi and requested that the corps transfer to St. Rita’s parish.  Fr. Schiraldi welcomed the corps members with open arms.  The cadets adopted a new look and name: The St. Rita’s Brassmen. Fr. Schiraldi remained at St. Rita’s for thirteen years, his longest parish assignment. 

 In 1972, Fr. Schiraldi moved to St. Dominic’s R.C. Church, his final assignment.  Sadly, he passed away in 1978 at the very young age of 57. He was truly a wonderfully kind and pious man.  Some of his happiest moments were spent marching alongside his parish corps in local parades.  Wherever he went, he brought his love of drum corps with him.