Holy Cross Students Inspire Hope With Prayers They Wrote During COVID 

Noah Mangual, Kayla Fanelli, and Jayden Lipsey are among eight writers from Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens who contributed prayers for “Ave Crux, Spes Unica: Bringing Hope to the World.” The 142-page book is produced by the Holy Cross Institute, headquartered on the campus of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. (Photos: Bill Miller)

FLUSHING — “Ave Crux, Spes Unica: Bringing Hope to the World ” probably won’t appear this summer on a national list of top-selling books in the U.S.

It’s also true, however, that none of these so-called “bestsellers” can boast the selected works of Noah Mangual, Jayden Lipsey, Kayla Fanelli, and five other writers from Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens.

“Ave Crux, Spes Unica ” (“Hail to the Cross, Our Only Hope”) is a small book, 142 pages, but filled with prayers about humanity’s struggles. It is produced by the Holy Cross Institute, headquartered on the campus of St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.

Included are the eight prayers from Holy Cross High School authors who wrote them in the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, which was particularly cruel to neighborhoods in Queens. Also, ongoing was the U.S. War on Terror, a conflict already underway before they were born.

Kayla, 15, is the daughter of Roxanne and the late Saverio Fanelli. She said she wasn’t sure what to write about it until she recalled the 2014 death of her beloved grandfather. The result is “Walk Together Again — Prayer for Loss.”

“I wanted it to be for anyone who really suffers loss,” she said. “I just wanted to let families know they’re not alone.”

Since she wrote the prayer, her own father, a retired sergeant for the New York City Police Department, also died. Kayla said her prayer holds up in the wake of his death.

 “Losing him was a lot tougher than my grandpa because that’s my dad,” she said. “Still, the prayer explains it’s difficult, regardless of who it is. I mean, you’ll never really heal, but you’ll learn how to deal with the pain.”

The prayer reads, in part, “Lord God, welcome into your loving arms the beautiful souls we have lost … Bless the families who mourn and grieve, especially those who suffer in silence. Fill their hearts with love and their bodies with strength. May they know they are not alone, but will one day walk together again.”

Jayden’s prayer, “Prayer of Doubt,” came from watching his mother, a single parent, struggle to care for him and his younger sister and brother.

“I wondered if God was really going to help us,” Jayden said. “But then my mom got sick with COVID, and she was hospitalized briefly. I thought God wasn’t there for us.”

“Ave Crux, Spes Unica: Bringing Hope to the World” is filled with prayers about humanity’s enduring struggles with sin, doubt, and grief, to name just a few. Its authors include eight students from Holy Cross High School in Flushing, Queens. 

Jayden, 16, said his mother, Tanika Lipsey, prayed without ceasing, so he followed her example.

“She started getting better,” he said. “Now she’s good. Finally, I felt He was there; It just took some time.

“Never doubt God. He’s always there, no matter what.”

Jayden’s prayer, in part: “God, I ask you to help me get through this struggle of doubt, and help me find my old self.”

Noah, 16, is the son of Stephen and Joyce Mangual. He described how humanity’s sinful nature intrigued and confused him. The conflicts they pose inspired his submission, “A Sinner’s Prayer.”

“Free will is an interesting concept,” he said. “Do we allow people to have free will if they’re going to use it to hurt others? Is free will a right or is it a privilege that we earn by using it to do what’s right?”

One thing Noah was sure of: People must take responsibility for their own sins.

His prayer, in part: “I beg for your forgiveness and for the healing of those I have wronged in my past. I am a sinner, but I ask for the chance to be something better.”

The other authors from Holy Cross are Jianna Davneiro, Viktoria Jedrzejowski, Gian Cruz, Krystal Campbell, and Nara Razack. All eight of the students will be juniors when they return to classes in the fall.

Jack Rampulla, director of campus ministry, said the prayers inspired him.

“COVID took a toll on these kids,” he said. “Now they’re having a harder time speaking up. But then they do something like this, and you see what’s in their hearts, and you say to yourself, ‘Wow, I never knew.’

“I think what it says is that we misread these kids, often. I’m always amazed by what comes out of them.”