I was pleasantly surprised when a notice was released asking Associates to consider assisting during weddings and funerals in Sacred Heart Chapel. The tasks were outlined: to open the chapel doors, switch on the audio and lighting systems, dress the altar with fresh linens and the sacred vessels, and remain on site during the function. Upon completion of the event, undo what was just previously done. In addition, check that all is well in the Chapel (which by the way has the longest center aisle of any church in Rockland County). Happily, I gave an affirmative reply to the request. I thought I would enjoy lending a hand and playing a small part in this ministry.
Performing these minute tasks is a pleasant chore. Dressing the altar is a spiritual delight—making sure that the linens hang evenly on both sides, that the Lectionary is in place, and that the candles are standing tall on each side. I appreciate the quiet time before the arrival of attendees—the Chapel is soundless, possessing a tranquil awakening suggesting, “Be Still and Know That I Am God.” I am grateful for the time in this sacred space; it enriches body and soul. It’s wonderful to be disconnected from the outside, even if only a short time.
I first noticed Sacred Heart Chapel back in 1958 when I would come to Sparkill as a high school student to attend the October Bazaar. At that time, I didn’t realize this huge “church” was used only by the Sparkill Dominicans Sisters and the children they cared for. Over the years, I have attended many happy celebrations and many sad occasions in the Chapel—professions, jubilees, the Chapel’s 100th Anniversary celebration, holiday Masses, Foundation Day, etc.—always sitting in the pews watching from afar.
Now, as the altar linens and sacred vessels pass through my hands, there is grace-filled intimacy. I thank God for the opportunity to be!
– Stephanie Carpentieri, Associate
Stephanie serves as executive assistant
to the president of the congregation.