By: Julia Fleschner
This past year, the faculty has been blessed with the presence of Father Garisto. Originally from Philadelphia, he was one of eight children and was raised through Catholic schooling. He entered the seminary to become a priest, and soon joined the teaching order. He was sent to college to receive his majors. He has two degrees in biology from De Salles University and Temple University. After, he entered the seminary in 1966, making this year his 50th anniversary.
He then taught for 13 years as seminarian and a priest. His first assignment in New York was located in the Bronx. In 1983, he was a part-time teacher and parish priest at Our Lady Queen of Peace until 1989. During this time, he also did part time teaching in guidance and biology at Sea.
He started as a biology teacher, became department chair, and then assistant principal in the end of the 1990’s.
Father was soon sent on a new mission. He became a pastor for the oldest Catholic school in the United States, or Saint Peters. It was located in Poughkeepsie and was failing to meet expectations. In watching the passion and drive that Monsignor Ansaldi had here, he was inspired.
He was expected to raise half a million dollars to pay teachers. With dedication, Father Garisto did what the pastors in the previous years could not accomplish.
In working with the school, he created a neuroscience and math regents programs. These attracted many students and enabled the school to pay the teachers their salaries.
He even founded an abandoned chapel there and started holding weddings. This all came to be from his experience here. As he has proven, “If you really believe in something, God will make it happen.” After 16 years, he had a new assignment. Father Reilly asked if he wanted to come back, and he did not hesitate to answer.
Upon returning, he is grateful to be assistant principal of development. He is so excited to work with such a qualified faculty. “It’s a tribute to father’s academics that we have three doctorates” father says, and he is pleased to be teaching theology.
He will also be working in the development office, reaching out to alumni so that they may become part of the school again. He plans to have an alumni school band and association starting from the class of 1967. He is excited to be back with the 50th graduating class, and is in awe as to how much work has been done in the past 20 years since he was last here.
There are many new additions that Father Garisto has been introduced to such as the auditorium, football field, and band room. He is impressed with the developments in the science research homeroom, and the upgrading of technology.
Teaching with the iPad without traditional chalk and board is a new experience, but he realizes the need for it in today’s world of technology. He says, “Father Reilly has really put the school on the map with the academics and sports complex, but most especially his interest to have the school form Catholic ladies and gentlemen.” He dedicates his actions in the past to what he has learned from his experience here.
One of the major reasons as to why he has chosen to return is because the traditional, Catholic Spirituality continues to draw him back.