Promising future: Siniscarco siblings grounded in their faith by this parish

The Siniscaro siblings — John, Shaelin and Fallon — are among a number of young adults who have grown up in our parish and have carried on the great legacy begun by generations past. They have participated in many ministries of the parish since their childhood as altar servers, lectors, eucharistic ministers, among others. They reflect on what this parish means to them.

John Siniscarco

24; Utica College graduate in cybersecurity; employed as an analyst for Office of Foreign Assets Control at BNY Mellon in Oriskany

It’s been eight years since I last formally reflected on my faith as per the “More Good News” at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Church.

As I look back on my experiences at Mount Carmel, especially as a young child, it really shaped my faith and my belief in God. Most of my friends from New Hartford went to a different church, but I always felt fortunate that I attended Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament.

I really enjoyed my religious education. I had great teachers who really shared their faith and worked hard to make sure we all had a strong faith in God. My father and his entire family grew up in the Mount Carmel parish and my parents were married at Mount Carmel. My sisters and I also made all of our sacraments at Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament.

Since making my First Communion, I was an altar server for many years until I made my Confirmation. After that, I served as a lector, which was also a positive experience. As I mentioned before, when I think of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament, I think of family as my father grew up in East Utica and at Mount Carmel. He went to grammar school at Mount Carmel, and I remember all of his stories from his school days and playing basketball. He would always show me his basketball team picture in the hallway leading to the gym. He always speaks of his Mount Carmel days with a lot of pride.

Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Church represents family. As far as family, my Uncle Joe and Aunt Laurie also attend Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament. My family and I recently attended church as a family to celebrate my Uncle Joe and Aunt Laurie receiving the Immaculata Award. The award is for those who volunteer and dedicate their time and faith to serving others in the parish. My Uncle Joe was also my confirmation sponsor; my Aunt Laurie was my sister Shaelin’s Confirmation sponsor and my cousin Krista was my sister Fallon’s Confirmation sponsor.

My parents have always reinforced how important having faith really is, and that no matter what happens in life, you can always count on your family and your faith in God.

Shaelin Siniscarco

21; Utica College graduate majoring in nursing; employed by SUNY Upstate Hospital in adult psychiatry.

The importance of having a strong faith was instilled in my life at a very young age.

I don’t know how my parents did it getting three little kids up and ready for church every Sunday, but somehow they managed.

I went to religion class every Sunday, followed by going to church and then finishing our Sunday with a trip to Café Caruso’s afterwards. I can still remember patrons of Café Caruso telling me and my siblings that they remember us being there when we were little babies.

Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament is where I feel most grounded and connected to my faith. I was an altar server for eight years and I also became a lector afterward. One of my best memories I’ve had was when Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament helped sponsor a Catholic retreat trip to Notre Dame University in Indiana and it was one of the best, most life-changing experiences I’ve ever had and it took my faith to a whole new level.

I remember venerating the cross and sitting in silence, simply connecting with God. During that experience, it reinforced how important it is to truly connect to God away from all the distractions of everyday life. It is there where I learned how to pray with actual intent, and it deepened my faith as a whole and it made me have a greater appreciation for my Catholic faith. I was surrounded by fellow Catholics from all over the country. It was so powerful and amazing!

I also have great memories of altar serving for Holy Week. Our Holy Week Masses are so beautiful, and I loved being part of it. I remember one particular time when my mom and I watched the movie “The Passion” together. I was just 10 years old. I remember my mom saying that maybe I was too young to watch such a graphic film, but that concern was short lived as I remember my mom telling me that it was so important to realize that Jesus suffered and died for us so that we could go to Heaven.

During that particular Holy Week service, I finally realized what Good Friday was all about. Jesus died for us so that we could live and do God’s will.

I just graduated college and will be a nurse at SUNY Upstate Hospital this August and I feel as if Mount Carmel has helped facilitate the realization of the gifts God has given me in order to do His will: listening, empathy, compassion, patience and bringing a sense of calm.

I feel I am called to help and serve people especially the most in need, and I could not think of a better way to start my nursing career while also doing God’s will at the same time. I feel like nursing is my vocation in life and I look forward to sharing my faith as well as continuing my spiritual journey throughout my nursing career.

No matter where life takes me, Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament will always have a special place in my heart.

Fallon Siniscarco

19; attends Utica College majoring in occupational therapy.

I have been a part of Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament Parish for as long as I can remember. I have so many positive memories.

One of my favorite memories was making my First Communion with the help of my teachers Terri Panuccio and Anne Elacqua. That’s where my faith journey began. That was my first step into devoting myself to my faith.

Shortly after, I was asked to participate in the May crowning of our Blessed Mother Mary with my best friend Nick Elacqua. I also participated in the Christmas pageant since I was in the first grade. I was a shepherd, then an angel and then was given the honor of being Mary while my friend Nick portrayed Joseph. I still remember all of the pictures my mom and Mrs. Elacqua took of me and Nick. The pageants were a great way to teach children it’s not all about Santa and presents, but the incredible birth of Jesus Christ.

I also remember all of the years of Breakfast with Santa and Christmas Eve Mass. I still remember the first time watching Santa bring up his gift to our Lord. It was magical and spiritual at the same time.

The church has always been a great place for me to relate to those who have similar beliefs, particularly when it comes to altar serving. I have so many great memories of altar serving with the assistance of John Reale. He always took the time to teach us how to serve God with respect and reverence. But he also just made it really fun.

It truly feels like a family when we all come together to serve the Lord especially during Holy Week. There is a special feeling that I get that I just can’t explain. Nothing else can replicate it. You have to actually experience it in order to feel it. I really feel blessed to have been able to experience that feeling.

Last year during COVID, it was the first time ever that I didn’t participate in altar serving for Holy Week. It felt so empty as Holy Week is my favorite time to serve. The music is so beautiful, the readings so special and I just love Peter Elacqua’s voice, as well as the entire choir. My most favorite song ever is “Kindle the Fire of Love,” and it just captures the Holy Spirit of our Church.

I feel really connected with my faith when I’m serving God. I plan on continuing to strengthen my faith by altar serving for Holy Week for as long as I can. Since making my Confirmation, I have also become a eucharistic minister. That was a really big step for me as it represents a more responsible, adult role in the church. I really appreciate Rosemarie Chiffy for allowing me the opportunity to be a eucharistic minister. She has always been and remains such an inspirational role model to me.

Being a eucharistic minister truly represents being part of the Mount Carmel / Blessed Sacrament community by distributing the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a responsibility that I take seriously. I encourage everyone to get involved in our church because it has truly made me a better person and a better Catholic.

Photo: From left: Fallon, John and Shaelin Siniscarco