External of Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart

Marieteresa Porcher Allen (MSB’24) and Connor Coyle (SFS’24): Serving the Community Through Sacristan Service

By Maya Mohosin (C’27)

What’s it like to be a sacristan? That is the question that Marieteresa Porcher Allen (MSB’24) and Connor Coyle (SFS’24) hear all the time. Simply put, it’s everything that happens behind the scenes of Mass—from before it starts to after it ends. It is ensuring that the correct linens are used, the altar is prepared, the readings are ready, and everything is set up so that the service runs smoothly. It’s the quiet backbone of the liturgical experience, making sure the faith community can fully engage in worship without distractions. It’s also about fostering a sense of spiritual connection and community.

Headshot of Marieteresa Porcher Allen (MSB’24) in Dahlgren Quad

Marieteresa Porcher Allen (MSB’24) in Dahlgren Quad.

Both Marieteresa and Connor grew up Catholic and wanted to continue practicing their faith at Georgetown in a unique way. Connor had attended Catholic school all his life so his transition to a Catholic university was not difficult, and he knew he wanted to find deeper meaning and purpose through Campus Ministry. 

When Marieteresa first arrived on the Hilltop through a Summer Immersion program, she had the opportunity to meet Dr. Jim Wickman during one of the summer services. He encouraged her to apply for the sacristan position in the fall; she was eager to do so, especially after the years she spent as an altar server at her local church. 

“I wanted to do more than just attend Mass, I wanted to really be involved,” says Marieteresa. And throughout their three years as sacristans, Marieteresa and Connor managed to do just that.

Recalling some of their favorite times, Connor mentions Holy Week, which is one of the busiest weeks for sacristans. From Thursday to Sunday, they set up and clean for Mass, greet people entering, and handle anything else that comes up along the way. Despite the hectic nature of Holy Week, working with great coworkers and seeing the Georgetown community celebrating the Easter Holiday was both fun and spiritually powerful. 

Headshot of Connor Coyle (SFS '24) in Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart

Connor Coyle (SFS’24) in Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart.

Throughout their time as sacristans, the two have connected with other sacristans and Campus Ministry facilitators, including Owen Ruggiero, Dr. Jim Wickman, and Catholic chaplains. Through these connections and the friendships developed, both Marieteresa and Connor found a set of skills that they would carry with them into their careers, such as event organization, and coordination. Through their work with Campus Ministry, they found grounding and belonging and learned to anticipate the unexpected while maintaining faith through adversity. 

The sacristans’ relationship transcends past beyond the daily Masses. Whether managing chaotic set-ups in Gaston Hall or attending Mass, Marieteresa and Connor carry something simple through it all: humor. When Connor and Marieteresa see each other around campus, they share a silly handshake. While many believe being a sacristan is entirely serious work, both remember their work as filled with laughter and unique experiences they love to share with others. They hope that future sacristans find ways to carry this air of helpfulness, laughter,  and community throughout their work. 

After graduating with a B.S. in Marketing from the MSB (McDonough School of Business), Marieteresa will return to New York to work at JP Morgan. Connor will stay at Georgetown for another year to complete his Master’s Degree in Security Studies from the SFS (School of Foreign Service).

Maya Mohosin (C ’27) is a communications assistant for Campus Ministry.

Photos by Maya Mohosin (C ’27).

Owen Ruggiero is the assistant director of Liturgy & Music.

Dr Jim Wickman is the director for Catholic Ministry.

Class of 2024
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