Maely Mercado continued her faithful journey and strengthened her relationship with God by being one of six students at Preston High School in the Bronx confirmed at a Mass and ceremony celebrated May 19 by Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen.
“The ceremony was amazing, it was beautiful,” Maely, a 17-year-old junior, told CNY. “Bishop Whalen was great. The homily and Mass were great.”
The six students participated in a sacramental preparation course initiated by Dora Dekajlo, chair of Preston’s theology department, for the 2021-2022 school year. Mrs. Dekajlo began the course after receiving interest from families to have their daughters at the girls’ school receive one or all of their sacraments.
In the program’s first year, one student was baptized, two received first Holy Communion and six were confirmed. Four sophomores–Leidy Notaro, Christa Petriello, Scarlett Hartman and Clara Suriel—and two juniors—Melissa Aquino and Maely–were confirmed by Bishop Whalen.
“It was genuinely a very exciting day,” said Mrs. Dekajlo of the confirmation Mass in the school gymnasium.
“We are a Catholic high school. We have a small chapel, and we are not connected to a parish. It’s not often a bishop comes here. The girls were excited. Their friends and parents were excited.”
Mrs. Dekajlo said two students initially registered for the program, and once word spread about the initiative, four more students joined. The students met with Mrs. Dekajlo during study periods.
Maely remembers the support she received from family and friends about her decision to participate.
“Preston was offering it and I decided to take the opportunity to do it,” she said. “I decided to do it because I did my other sacraments and wanted to continue my faithful journey.
“Confirmation is one of the main sacraments. Once you’re confirmed, you have a stronger relationship and bond with God.”
Maely praised the work to prepare students for their sacraments by Mrs. Dekajlo, who received help from Father Paul Richmond, O. Carm., parochial vicar of St. Simon Stock parish in the Bronx.
“It was very informative and gave me more information you can’t learn in theology class,” said Maely of the program. “It gave me a deeper insight into what I was going to be doing by making my confirmation.”
Mrs. Dekajlo said four students have already registered for the sacramental preparation course in the next school year.
Maely is encouraging her peers to participate in the program.
“It’s a great opportunity,” she said. “If you want to do it, just do it and don’t wait. The opportunity is now and you may not have the opportunity later.
“It’s the best feeling ever.”