The campus ministry program at Saint Barnabas High School in the Bronx is commited to providing Christian leadership and guiding students in their faith journey through outreach projects and “assuming a more vital role in the schoolwide ministry.”
Last month, five of the school’s students received the sacrament of confirmation, including one who also received the sacrament of first Holy Communion. The May 10 ceremony was celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Peter Byrne, who was assisted by Father Brendan Fitzgerald, pastor of St. Barnabas parish; Father Joseph Akunaeziri, parochial vicar; and Father John Smart, priest in residence.
Saint Barnabas High School, founded in 1924, is an independent, nonprofit all-girls college preparatory school. It is located on East 240th Street in the borough’s Woodlawn Heights section.
“Confirmation is a very important step in our high school students’ faith formation,” Sharon Traditi, campus ministry moderator, told Catholic New York last week. “It completes their sacraments of initiation which for whatever reason they were not able to do earlier in their education.”
As for service projects, she noted that charitable endeavors at Thanksgiving and Christmas were successful despite limitations associated with the pandemic.
Ms. Traditi said she and other school staff members congratulate the five students “who have dedicated and prepared themselves to receive the sacraments.”
Principal Theresa Napoli said, “It gives me great pride to know that our Catholic faith lives within the halls of Saint Barnabas High School and, by example, these young women have chosen to strengthen their faith.”
The five students were sophomore Michelle Torres, freshman Ceili Chapter, freshman Ciara Leo, sophomore Arriana Rijfkogel and freshman Shania Cueto. Shania also received the sacrament of first Holy Communion.
“I am asked to further my faith through my actions,” Shania told CNY, citing lessons from her sacramental preparation. “The words at Mass said by the priest are, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ just as Jesus said them. It is a way that we feed our souls. It is also a time when we come together to receive the sacrament as a Catholic community.”
Shania noted that she is looking forward to participating in more charitable projects during the next school year as a sophomore than she was able to this year amid the pandemic.
Emma Brannigan, a junior, and her sister Sarah, a freshman, serve as campus ministry student mentors and were also present at the confirmation ceremony. “As a student mentor, I have the pleasure of helping underclassmen understand the values that Saint Barnabas High School has instilled in me,” Emma told CNY. “I love volunteering to help others, and it is great to see the impact I can have in the end.”
Organizers said student leadership is the hallmark of the school’s campus ministry, allowing members the opportunity to develop, with their peers, a more active life of faith. Although Saint Barnabas accepts students of all faiths, students often are drawn to become Catholic or to further their commitment of faith and understanding through campus ministry projects, activities and gatherings.
The school’s “long tradition of sisterhood” is shown through the action of campus ministry members, who often serve as mentors. Campus ministry members help plan prayer services, and they lead the school in daily prayers.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, they collected food and clothing to help needy families, serving in communities in the Bronx and Westchester County. The campus ministry group has more than 20 members. The school, which has 205 students, was formerly part of the parish but became independent in 2015.