As I am 5 days away from receiving the Brothers’ Habit, I’ve decided to post a 5 part look into the decisions which have brought me (without my knowing) to this point. Modeled after the famous quote from La Salle, I’ve looked back over my life to pinpoint various decisions where God was working through others and me to eventually bring me to this point. The 5 posts will look at the following parts of my journey:
1: High School Years
2: Manhattan College/Introduction to the Brothers
3: Lasallian Volunteers Program and San Francisco
4: Seton Partners, El Camino, and New York
5: Time in Community at St. Ray’s
Part 1: High School
Growing up, there was nothing particularly religious about my family. Both of my parents attended Catholic School at one point in their lives, and were sure to enroll my sister and I into our CCD program to receive our Sacraments. When I was younger we went to Mass every Sunday, and this continued through high school. While we were certainly a typical Catholic family, there was nothing overly religious about us- we didn’t say grace before meals, or say our prayers before bed. My parents certainly encouraged my sister and I to get as involved as we wanted, or not at all if we didn’t want to.
I was always active in my Church through the Vacation Bible School Program, so this led me to become familiar with the Priests in the Parish. We were blessed with an amazing community at St. Frances de Chantal in Wantagh, and the Priests invited me to get involved as a lector and as a secretary in the Parish center. My mom told me that I could get tips if I lectured weddings, and that I’d get paid as a secretary, so this only emboldened me to say yes.
It was there that I met Craig Ferrantino, the Youth Minister. He used to come in to pick up his mail before Youth Group events, and we would exchange pleasantries. One day he happened to hear the music I was listening to, and invited me to help him plan a Battle of the Bands. I can honestly say that was the first of the important ‘yes’ responses of my life.
From there I became active in the Youth Group, and on my first retreat (called an Antioch retreat) I had my first religious experience. I remember vividly sitting in the sanctuary after Confession, crying inconsolably. I couldn’t answer the question ‘why are you crying’ because I didn’t know. I just knew that I was experiencing something that was foreign to me. My friend at the time, Michael (now a best friend, and Priest) came over to pray with me, which seemed extremely bizarre to me, but it was just perfect.
At that point the Youth Ministry became a priority for me. From speaking on retreats to helping to lead events, Craig knew exactly how to help us grow not just as leaders, but in our faith. Throughout high school the Youth Group was a rock for me, from introducing me to new friends to providing opportunities to help others and even my first kiss.
As I realized how important my faith was becoming, I knew I did not want to stop nurturing it when high school was over. I decided to only apply to Catholic Colleges (as well as Boston University, in hopes of following in my sister’s footsteps). It is here that the next profound ‘yes’ would turn up.
Check back tomorrow for part 2!