Staten Island, NY – On the last Sunday of June, an iconic saintly statue found a new home on Staten Island, with the help of Sisters, Brothers, a Priest, and an AFSC. St. John the Baptist, longtime St. John Villa Academy statue staple, made his way to St. Peter’s Boys High School, a ministry animated by the charism of St. John Baptist de La Salle.
On June 27, the Brothers’ Community of St. Peter’s hosted an official dedication of the St. John the Baptist statue, made possible by Father Michael Cichon, Pastor of Saint Peter’s Parish. Farther Michael was able to acquire the statue from the Sisters of Saint John the Baptist after declining enrollment closed the doors of Saint John Villa Academy. Many Sisters, St. Peter’s and St. John Villa alumni and students attended the event, in addition to the Brothers of the community.
“This addition is quite a show-stopper,” said Mr. Frank Cafaro, AFSC, Director of Guidance of St. Peter’s Boys High School. Mr. Cafaro is also a proud alum of St. John Villa Academy. “Every graduate has pictures in front of the statue. I even have my christening picture taken with it. I’m honored to have been able to make the landscaping and cement work possible for this statue.”
When the Sisters of Saint John the Baptist opened Saint John Villa mostly to serve the large Italian immigrant population of Staten Island at the time, the statue was sent from Rome, Italy as a gift from the Mother General of that time. The statue came via steamship and arrived on Staten Island in the fall of 1922. When it arrived at Villa, it was put in the center of the campus, in front of the convent, and in between the elementary and High School buildings. It stood as the central point of the campus for over 96 years.
“Over the years I have had a strong connection with the Sisters of Saint John the Baptist, and even served on the board at St John Villa, and have been involved in many of their ministries,” Mr. Cafaro, reflected. “My family was very close to the Sisters. They’re like an extended family. It’s kind of like a homecoming. I am so happy and blessed that the statue has arrived at St. Peter’s!
After the dedication, the Brothers’ Community hosted a luncheon for all to enjoy, an opportunity for association and catching up.