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Sacristans Installed by Fr. Steven DeMaio ’03 During Mass of the Holy Spirit

Kelly Slonaker

On Sunday, September 12, Canterbury celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit—its first Mass of the year—and officially installed the 2021-22 Sacristans. Those selected for this role in the 2021-22 school year include Sixth Form students Stella Bandak, Gabriella Cafiero, Isabella Carioscia, Max Cooper, Giovanna Esposito, Giancarlo Faraci, Lindsey Grandolfo, Claire Kessing, Patrick McKiernan, Katelynn Pizzano, Ashley Regina, David Salazar, and Alex Schneider. Personal character, demonstrated faith, and leadership qualities define those students who earn a position as Sacristan.

Head of School Rachel Stone P ’23, ’24 opened the service with remarks for the community: “I can think of no better opening message as we begin a new—and better—year than to remind and celebrate with the Saints community that it is these very moments when we so powerfully affirm the mission of our beloved School; moments when we reflect together and support one another; moments when we seek opportunities to be of help and service; moments when we lead with values and justice. These community moments are the glue that binds and buoys us.”

Rachel continued by addressing the newly appointed Sacristans, saying, “Last spring, you each spoke of your individual faith journeys, and while they all took different routes—some ignited by loss or difficult times, others sustained by family tradition that eventually became yours—you have asked to become Sacristans, the highest leadership position at Canterbury, because you want to live and share your faith. Now you must find ways to explain to others why a journey focused on spirituality, service, and love is worth the effort. Your job is not to convince others of what you know and believe; rather, it is to model your understanding of the role you play in the lives of others, to spark conversation about belief and faith, and to be leaders of spiritual growth. Inspire, not insist.”

Rachel concluded, “Remember, you may be further along on your faith journeys than many of your peers, so do not allow that difference to create division. Canterbury’s Catholic heritage provides a common focus on our Five Values, regardless of our backgrounds and beliefs. As Sacristans, you must protect and sustain that focus, foster open dialogue, and be the approachable, respected role models you all spoke about during your interviews. As you know, leadership is both a privilege and a responsibility, and none more so than the leadership granted to you today as Sacristans.”

The Mass was celebrated for the first time by Fr. Steven DeMaio ’03. Fr. Steve was born and raised in Sherman, CT, graduated from Canterbury in 2003, and matriculated to James Madison University, VA, earning a degree in Business Management with a minor in Spanish. In 2009, he was sent to Zambia for six months to work on a sports project, and it was there that he met the Salesians of Don Bosco and began to discern the priesthood. He entered formation in 2010 and was ordained a priest in June of 2021. He now lives in New Rochelle, NY, and works in Vocation and Young Adult ministry.

Dressed in their traditional robes, the Sacristans sat together during the Mass. After the homily, Rachel invited the group of 13 to receive their Sacristan crucifixes and declare their statement of fidelity and service to the Canterbury community. Director of Campus Ministry Devon McCormick reflected on the day and its significance: “It was an immense honor to have Fr. Steve here—he shared parts of his Canterbury story with us, from being a Sacristan who had to learn to work through his actions instead of his words, to being in disbelief that he was actually back celebrating Mass at his own high school. It was so special to have him here, and we cannot wait to welcome him back many, many more times.” She continued, “The Sacristan installation could not have been more beautiful. We installed 13 unique leaders—all of whom have their own stories and paths and have so much to give to this community. It was a beautiful way to start their Sacristan journey, and we cannot wait to see what comes from them this year.”

Congratulations to this year’s Sacristans!