Marist High School, Bayonne, NJ
My freshman year was the first co-ed year at Marist College. There were no rules, and it being 1970, the curriculum was pretty lax, so I had lots of fun. But in the midst of all that I met the Marist Brothers and saw how they cared for kids and the good that they did. It started me thinking, this is the way I want to live my life. Even though it felt right, I wrestled with becoming a Brother. It was a thorn in my side the entire time. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it, and I couldn’t not do it. I had to try it out.
What really helped me when I entered the novitiate was the spiritual director, Brother John Malich. He was patient with me, and he was relentless; he pushed me. He helped me learn how to pray, and that was very important. To sit and be quiet and to listen was a real challenge for me. He taught me to quiet myself and listen. I learned how to meditate and be contemplative and how to pay attention to what’s going on inside. When I learned that, everything else clicked.
I taught eighth grade in the South Bronx for a number of years. One year I had a rowdy group of kids who were wild, but so loveable at the same time. We had a 16-year-old father in the group, and there were other issues. I remember giving a test one day and everyone was silent and working. In that moment I was just very aware that what we do is God’s work and God gives us what we need to help others. In that moment, it all came together for me. I knew this is where I am supposed to be. It’s gratifying to know you have your place in the universe. Not everyone has that.