By Jessica Easthope
Signum fidei – it means “a sign of faith” and for the last month, that’s what Ray Cosentino has been looking for as his younger brother Mike fights for his life against COVID-19.
“The fear of losing someone you love is scary and the whole process of not knowing what’s going to happen,” Ray said. “The stress and anxiety level, it’s been hard.”
The Latin phrase is the motto of St. Peter’s Boys High School on Staten Island. It’s the school where both Ray and Mike attended and coach football. It’s also where Mike serves as the school principal. Now, after weeks of being in a coma – Mike is awake.
“Him coming out of the induced coma has all happened in the last 48, 72 hours and it’s a huge relief,” Ray said. “You get excited, but you have to remind yourself he has a long way to go.”
During the most stressful time in their lives, Ray and members of his family have been coming to the school’s grotto to plant flowers, light candles and read the signs students have been leaving. More than a year after the 35-year-old father-of-four delivered a pandemic message of hope and strength to his students, the disease had Mike in its grips in a flash.
“Mike’s always on his phone, busy, responding to people,” Ray said. “I called and checked-in. Everything just led to him going to the hospital and when he got there, it was a real concern.”
Coming to the grotto to pray is what got the Cosentino family through. Now, they want to make the space more beautiful for others. They say it’s prayers from people they’ve never met that helped Mike out of the thick of his coronavirus battle and will hopefully bring him home.
“There’s been a novena that went on for nine days and there’s still a Zoom prayer every night,” Ray said. “What do you say to that? People from other schools, other neighborhoods that don’t know my family, what can you say to that? It’s unbelievable.”
Now Mike is getting stronger every day, but he’s not out of the woods yet. So his family continues to visit the grotto. Ray says the prayers and support from the St. Peter’s community have been life-changing: this is where he comes for a sign of faith.