Ordination Class of 2022: Deacon Nicholas Stano

This is the fourth in a series of articles profiling the seven men who will be ordained to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of Boston at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 21.

BRIGHTON -- Deacon Nicholas Stano said his grandparents' example greatly influenced his own faith.

He grew up in Dedham with his mother, his brother, and his grandparents, who were active members of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish. His grandfather was a lector, and Deacon Stano would sometimes borrow the missalette to play Mass in his room.

"It became a way to see the parish as an extension of our family because of how involved and how important it was for them. They really stressed that, not just in words but in their actions," Deacon Stano said.

He became an altar server and later a member of the Life Teen program. He also worked at the parish while commuting to Newbury College, where he studied sports management.

People had occasionally told Deacon Stano that he would be a good priest someday, but he did not take this suggestion seriously until he was in college. That was when he began to practice his faith in a way that was more intentional and focused on having a relationship with Christ.

He gained some clarity while reading the diary of St. Faustina. Reflecting on the love of God, which is so needed in the world, Deacon Stano heard a clear message: "Become my priest."

"It was striking, in my prayer, because there was nothing that was immediately fearful about it. I just wanted to make sure that it was a call from God," he said.

He immediately told his pastor about this experience. Though it was "shocking," Deacon Stano said, he also felt "a great peace."

"I finally wasn't deciding what I wanted to do, I was just saying yes to what God was wanting me to do," he said.

After finishing college, he was accepted to St. John's Seminary.

He said he has appreciated the fact that the formation process is six years long.

"I've grown to know myself better and been able to take a lot of time to draw near to our Lord through the program here," he said.

One memorable event took place during his first year in seminary: the heart of Padre Pio was brought to the Cathedral of the Holy Cross for veneration. Deacon Stano's grandfather had had a great devotion to this saint, since his birthday was on Padre Pio's feast day. Deacon Stano volunteered to help at the event, directing the crowds and holding the reliquary for veneration.

That was the first occasion he wore clerics, and the first time anyone addressed him as "Father."

Two weeks later, Deacon Stano had the opportunity to venerate relics of St. Faustina on her feast day, and asked her to be the patroness of his vocation.

Looking back on his seminary experience, it seems as though each year has brought its own challenges.

"Every year since I've entered seminary, I always think, 'This year can't be crazier than the last one.' And it always seems to up itself in some way," Deacon Stano said.

His first year was a time of adjusting to the new environment. His second year was spent finishing his thesis for his undergraduate degree while also adding on a pastoral assignment. The following summer, he participated in the Institute of Priestly Formation's summer program. Then there was an investigation into St. John's Seminary, which took over a year to complete. Deacon Stano described that process as being like "a cloud hanging over the seminary."

When the coronavirus pandemic began, the seminarians were initially sent home, but were then told to move into parish rectories. Deacon Stano said he looked at that abrupt change as "a small preview towards diocesan priesthood."

"At any moment, I could be asked to leave wherever I am, to go somewhere else, and to be okay with that," he said.

He spent most of 2020 in his home parish, St. Mary's in Dedham. Upon his ordination to the diaconate, he was assigned to serve Ascension Parish, which includes two worship sites, St. Bridget in Maynard and Our Lady of Fatima in Sudbury.

"It's been a wild ride, but in the best possible way," Deacon Stano said.

Every now and then, he said, he is reminded to pray for the people that he will be serving as a diocesan priest.

"I'm very much looking forward to meeting them, to celebrating Mass for them, to avail them of the sacraments, and to be in the lives of these people that God has given me to," he said.