Jennifer Crusco
Communications Assistant

Volunteers Find Nazareth Farm Trip Moving & Memorable 

Demarest, NJ: Those who volunteer at Nazareth Farm in West Virginia are greeted by a simple phrase painted on a barn: “Expect a miracle.” Five juniors from the Academy of the Holy Angels can now relate to those words, after spending a week working on the farm, living simply, and serving others.

New Milford resident Katarina Katzarov, Kearny resident Hannah Hyams, and Upper Saddle River residents Christiana Callegari, Nicola Callegari, and Gabrielle Layne were accompanied by AHA Director of Campus Ministry Kathy Sylvester and Deacon John Sylvester.


As they worked among those in need in Dodridge County (Appalachia), the group embraced the principles of Catholic social teaching and the farm’s cornerstones: prayer, simplicity, community, and service. The Holy Angels representatives lived and worked with student volunteers from DePaul Cristo Rey School in Cincinnati, Ohio; Saint Patrick’s parish in Syracuse, New York; and Saint Joseph’s Youth Group from Toms River, New Jersey.


Throughout their week of service, the students were involved with siding, roofing, and painting homes for local families. The experience was transformational.


“Nazareth Farm was truly a life-changing experience,” Nicola Callegari wrote in her post-trip reflection. “Volunteers spend a week at a time in complete community, prayer, service, and simplicity.”


She explained that Nazareth Farm volunteers live together, pray together, serve the community, and live as simply as possible. There is no internet access, and each person is permitted just three showers per week.


“I was extremely hesitant upon arrival, and when I first arrived, their phrase ‘Expect a miracle’ was on the barn,” Nicola continued. She revealed that she did not expect a miracle, until the last day of the mission.


“I did not want to leave, because the bonds one forms with the people at the farm are incredible. Due to the simplicity aspect, you are able to learn so much about a person and can truly become great friends. During my week, I formed great friendships, found a new appreciation for my life, and loved seeing the smiles of the people whose homes we worked on,” she added.


Christiana Callegari concurred that the Nazareth Farm was an experience she will always remember.


“Incorporating prayer, community, simplicity, and service into everyday life seemed daunting at first; however, it was very rewarding. This trip was filled with challenges that, when overcome, brought me closer to my faith, my true identity, and my peers. I recommend this service to trip to everyone because words cannot describe the reward you will encounter,” Christiana wrote, calling the journey the highlight of her summer.


Founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame in 1879, the Academy of the Holy Angels is the oldest private girls’ school in New Jersey. While AHA is steeped in Catholic tradition, this prestigious high 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.




Academy of the Holy Angels

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Demarest, NJ 07627

Phone: 201.768.7822

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