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Academy of the Holy Angels Celebrates its 142nd Anniversary

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the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Demarest NJ, The Academy of Holy Angels community hosted a memorable Feast Day celebration in honor of the Academy’s 142nd anniversary. Bishop Michael Saporito presided at the October 1 Liturgy, where he commissioned several new Eucharistic Ministers. He also provided a special blessing for the new AHA Middle School, which opened to Grades 6-8 on September 10.

Feast Day commemorates the October 2, 1879 signing of the deed for AHA’s original campus in Fort Lee. Sister Mary Nonna Dunphy, SSND, signed the document on the Feast of the Holy Guardian Angels, and the Academy took its name from the holiday.

Moments before Mass began, AHA President Melinda Hanlon welcomed Bishop Saporito; and Sisters Sharon Slear, SSND, and Margaret Ellen Mahoney, SSND, both of whom were guests from Notre Dame of Maryland. S. Sharon recently concluded nine years as chair of the AHA Board of Trustees. The new chair, Raphaela Giampiccolo, attended the blessing of the middle school.

In her greeting, President Hanlon acknowledged everyone who watched the Liturgy via livestream. She highlighted this year’s theme, “Love is the sign through which the world should be convinced that we believe in Jesus.”

“At AHA, we’re among angels every day,” Hanlon noted, adding that those friends who lift us up when we stumble are also angels.


The Bishop’s homily featured the message that fulfillment comes when we live our lives on purpose. He noted how angels serve God and watch over God’s people. He pointed out that angels communicate with us, and can be messengers, helpers, or companions.

“This world needs, not someone standing on a podium and talking to us about hope, but us becoming hope in the world,” Saporito said. He asked if the AHA community would join him in coming together, “inspired by God and the message of the angels, to bring hope and the message of the gospel to the world we live in.”

During Mass, Saporito commissioned AHA’s new Eucharistic Ministers. This year’s class includes Jacqueline Arbogast of Warwick, New York; Kara Battaglia of Blauvelt, New York; Zeida Ben-Fredj Lopez of Bergenfield; Gabriella Borges of Demarest; Caelan McHugh of Sparkill, New York; Nicole Romano of Old Tappan; Gabriella Rigoli of Wyckoff; Julie Rubino of Nutley, Nina Sango and Sofia Vergona, both of Englewood Cliffs; Anna Tenaglia of Oradell; and Grace Watson of Glen Rock. These seniors have been training with AHA Director of Campus Ministry Kathleen Sylvester, Campus Minister Maryanne Miloscia, and Religious Studies Department Chair Carol Fay.

After Mass, the middle school students, faculty, and staff gathered at Kelleher Hall. Those present included AHA Middle School Dean Traci Koval, AHA Principal Jean Miller, Dean of Academics Carmen Quiñones, and Dean of Students Andréa Beyer.

The Bishop’s message focused on the importance of light. He noted that, when someone begins to study a certain subject, he or she begins in darkness. Teachers enlighten their students.

“May your work enlighten you,” he said.

The service included readings by faculty members and students, and music provided by AHA seniors Myra Bocage, Caitlin Neville, and Arielle Maravilla.

AHA’s maintenance crew moved a piano outdoors for the COVID conscious ceremony.

Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in Bergen County. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious school serves young women from a broad spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds. Over time, thousands of women have passed through AHA’s portals. Many go on to study at some of the nation’s best universities, earning high-ranking positions in medicine, government, law, education, public service, business, arts, and athletics. The Academy’s current leaders continue to further the SSND mission to provide each student with the tools she needs to reach the fullness of her potential—spiritually, intellectually, socially, and physically, by offering a first-rate education in a nurturing environment where equal importance is placed on academic excellence, character development, moral integrity, and service to others.


201.768.7822 HOLYANGELS.ORG

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