Read below for some samples from the June issue of The Long Island Catholic Magazine.  To read the whole issue, subscribe here.

Feature Story

Confronting ‘a deeply secular culture’ as Father Chaminade did

by Rick Hinshaw

 Father Thomas Cardone has been a Marianist for 40 years, and a priest for 30. His journey began in St. Raymond’s Parish in East Rockaway, where he grew up one of four children in a very strong Catholic family. “Very early on at St. Raymond’s I felt the call to the priesthood,” he said.

“Two things my parents always emphasized,” he recalled, were “the importance of Catholic education and the importance of missionaries.” So it hardly seems coincidental that he became a Marianist, devoted to Catholic education and serving at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale, while his brother Chris became a missionary priest, and is now a diocesan bishop in the Solomon Islands.

 

“My mother always said she raised two sinners and two saints,” Father Tom joked. “She never said who was which, but I think my sisters,” Nancy and Donna, “are the saints.”

 

Father Tom recalled “a very positive experience with the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary” at St. Raymond School.

 

“The sisters were very young at that time, very dedicated,” he recalled. “They took a personal interest in the kids” and could even be found “playing ball with the boys on the playground.” They nurtured the schoolchildren’s faith: “I was in the choir and an altar server,” Father Tom recalled, and the sisters would have the children attend daily Mass together during Advent and Lent.

 

They were also “strong in the arts—music, singing, art,” which, he said, provided “a very strong complement to our academic program.”

 

At Chaminade High School in Mineola, he “was introduced to Marianist religious life,” with the Marianist Brothers as teachers and activities moderators. During a junior year vocations retreat at Meribah, the Marianist retreat house in Muttontown, he began to sense the call to serve as a Marianist religious. He joined the community shortly after high school, and “was definitely influenced,” he said, “by Father Francis Keenan, the novice master.

 

“He introduced me to Marianist religious life, and also to what it means to be a priest in a religious community. The Society of Mary, the Marianists, are unique insofar as (Blessed) Father (William Joseph) Chaminade’s vision for religious life,” Father Tom said of the order’s founder. “Father Chaminade envisioned a community of brothers from among whom priests would be called to serve as chaplains and spiritual directors for the brothers in the community, and then as chaplains in our schools.” In this “mixed composition” of priests and brothers, he explained, all are equal. “At Kellenberg, we are referred to as ‘the brothers,’” he said, the term inclusive of the Marianist priests as well as brothers. In other “mixed composition” communities, he said, the religious superior would always be a priest; in the Marianists, a brother can be the religious superior even with priests part of the community. “We all take turns cooking dinner” and sharing other daily living responsibilities, he said, and prayer life, too, is on an equal footing among all members of the community. “What distinguishes the priests,” of course, “is that they provide the sacramental ministries.”

 

The cry of the poor

 

“All religious orders,” Father Tom said, reflecting on the origins of the Society of Mary, “are prompted by the work of the Holy Spirit, where the founder has a personal call—combined with his ability ‘to hear the cry of the poor.’

 

“During the French Revolution,” he explained, “while Father Chaminade was in exile, he had a deep experience with Mary, the mother of Jesus,” and came to understand that he was to found a congregation dedicated to her. “When he returned to France after the revolution, he heard the cry of the poor in people yearning for God, and asking to be formed in the faith and educated in the Catholic tradition.

 

“Like today,” Father Tom said, “France at that time was exceptionally secular. Father Chaminade founded sodalities and educated all sorts of people in the faith. From there came the birth of religious communities: the Marianist Sisters in 1815, the Marianist Brothers in 1817.

 

“Our mission today is very similar to the time of the French Revolution,” Father Tom noted. “We live in a deeply secular culture trying to eliminate God.

 

“For us, the Church needs to work especially with high school and college students,” he said. “At this stage of their lives, there is a great pull to a secular culture of extravagant living, promiscuity, and ‘it’s all about me.’ Religious life offers an antidote: to extravagant living, it’s our poverty and sense of charity; to promiscuity, it’s our chastity and the importance of cultivating right relationships; to ‘it’s all about me,’ the antidote is obedience, knowing we are called to listen to God in surrendering self for the good of others. Our message here is that who you are is much more important than what you do.”

 

As a religious community, the Marianists strive to provide a “common witness” of faith to young people, Father Tom said, and at Kellenberg it is bearing fruit.

 

“All our retreats are packed,” he said. “Almost every Friday night at Kellenberg Memorial is a ‘Faith Friday,’” which can entail a mission, a film, Stations of the Cross, a guest speaker or adoration. Each fall, “about 800 students participate in a freshman-sophomore night of recollection involving a talk, dinner and eucharistic adoration.

 

“Eucharistic adoration has become the norm for personal prayer,” Father Tom said, “and for allowing the heart of the young person to be in communion with the heart of Christ.”

 

All this only happens, he said, because of the commitment of all of Kellenberg’s faculty and staff.

 

A faith family community

 

“The graces that flow from the religious community are instrumental and formative to the religious life of our faculty and students,” he said. “We are a faith family community. As early as 1817, Father Chaminade envisioned religious and lay people working together for the common good.” Many current faculty, he noted, are graduates of Kellenberg who have returned to teach, and to help impart to students the faith experience they received at the school.

 

“Almost all our teachers assist in the retreat programs,” he said, “and almost all our lay teachers are moderators of sodality groups,” in which hundreds of students are involved.

 

“We are very conscious of the value of a Catholic education in the Marianist tradition,” he emphasized, “where we educate the heart and mind using Father Chaminade’s vision of Marian spirituality.” That vision includes developing an “atmosphere of education,” Father Tom explained. “A person on the campus of Kellenberg Memorial notices hundreds of trees, thousands of flowers, in addition to religious symbols”—not to mention a veritable menagerie including bird aviaries in the school lobby, peacocks and fish ponds in the courtyards, and the dogs the brothers keep as pets. “As believers in God, we are called to make young people aware of the power of nature and the power of symbols,” he said. “For Marianists, everything speaks—from the beauty of our churches, artwork in the hallways, the animals—all creation is important.”

 

Most important of all to the faith formation of students, he stressed, is family.

 

“It’s very important for young parents to realize that they are the first church. The parish is the second church, the altar is the second table. What happens in terms of family, prayer, over the dinner table, is critical” in drawing young people into an active faith life.

 

“Our role here” is to support families in that effort, he said, knowing that “we have many parents who sacrifice a great deal to give their kids a Catholic education.”

 

Supporting the family lives of Kellenberg’s lay faculty is also a vital part of the Marianists’ mission, Father Tom said. “As chaplain at Kellenberg, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to witness the marriages and baptize the babies of many of our faculty and staff,” he said. “Our young faculty has blessed the Church with many children. We are pro-life every step of the way.”

 

In this Year for Consecrated Life, Kellenberg’s freshmen retreats featured the Little Sisters of the Poor speaking to the girls on women’s vocations, and Kellenberg’s principal, Marianist Brother Kenneth Hoagland, talking to the boys about men’s religious vocations. The school’s Communion breakfasts last month featured Kellenberg alum (2009) Caroline Bamburek, now Nashville Dominican Sister Anne Thomas, speaking to the eighth and ninth grade gathering, and Marianist Brother Daniel Griffin addressing the 10-12 grade breakfast. In addition, every school day at noon, “everything stops,” Father Tom said, “in classrooms, in the hallways, the cafeteria,” as the entire Kellenberg Memorial family joins in praying the Angelus for religious vocations.

 

“I believe our witness has also helped foster many of the priestly vocations in our diocese,” Father Tom said. “Half of the seminarians for our diocese are from, mostly, Kellenberg, some from Chaminade.” Four of the five men to be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rockville Centre this year are Marianist school alumni, he said, two from Kellenberg and two from Chaminade. “And we have another being ordained for the Archdiocese of New York.”

 

FAITH AND NEW WORKS

So, you are going to college?

 By Bishop William Murphy

 

The year I completed Boston Latin School, my aunt and her husband who lived some distance from us had her second child, a boy. I really did not know my other cousin, who was 3 while I was a lordly 17. Nor did I know anyone else there except my grandmother and my aunt and uncle. So I did not know what to say when this question was popped at me by a complete stranger. I think I mumbled that I was going to Harvard and did my best to escape to the sandwich line.

Since then, as a priest and bishop, I have spent enough time with high schoolers here and in Rome, where I was chaplain at the Marymount School, to know that arriving in college can be an awesome and an overwhelming experience that most handle well, but a few find truly daunting.

With that in mind, let me play “grandfather” for a bit and offer some thoughts to all you who have graduated from high school this year and are heading off to college.

First of all, St. John Paul II was right when he told us Do not be afraid! He meant that for us all but I think it particularly apt for college freshmen. If you are nervous, guess what? So is most everyone else! It is new for you, but also for all your classmates. Colleges today all have introductory programs. Take part and ask questions. The chance is 10 out of 10 that if you have a question, there are at least 10 percent or more of the class who have the same question. So ask it. In the five years I taught at a women’s college, I never heard an honest question that was not worth an honest answer.

Second, be yourself. I don’t mean your silly self. I don’t mean your super serious self. And I certainly do not mean any “I already have all the answers” self. Ask your parents before you go what they think are your most positive characteristics and what they think makes you the person they so love. They probably have a better insight into who you are than anyone else and they certainly have your best interest at heart.

Third, play to your strengths. You have already accomplished much in your high school years. Don’t hesitate to pursue further those very interests and activities that gave you the most satisfaction in high school. It could be sports or drama or music or art or any of all those things you have had in today’s high school that we never had in that ancient time when I was your age.

Fourth, don’t limit yourself to your strengths. Test yourself by being open to new challenges, so long as they are wholesome and good. I remember as a freshman being cajoled into a few of the “attractions” of Harvard Square. One of my best friends from home who was a junior helped me see that not everything that is new or different is to be tried.

Fifth, keep up contacts with your old friends and, of course, your family and all those who love you and whom you love. They want the best for you, but that best does not include walking out of their lives or your turning away from them. At the same time, life means an ever greater circle of opportunities, many of which will gain you new friends and open up new possibilities for your life.

Sixth, keep a balance in your life. One of my brothers spent a whole semester in an endless tournament of bridge (I bet you never heard of it!) and it showed in his marks that semester. You are there to learn. You are there to grow. You are there to pick up whatever tools—academic, social, sporting, creativity etc.—that will help you become the person you hope to be. So keep a balance even as you use your time to explore options for the future.

Seventh, take time to relax and enjoy yourself. Good company makes good friends. Study and relaxation go together. A mix of old and new, easy and challenging should give you a sense of satisfaction that is expressed by being joyful, finding joy and sharing joy.

And don’t ever forget that wherever you go, God goes with you.  He does not abandon you. Don’t you abandon Him. Sunday Mass is the way we show our respect for God. What better way to keep your life full, free and joyful than by celebrating the Eucharist every Sunday! If you are at a Catholic college, get involved in the worship and the intellectual and the social service opportunities that strengthen your faith and give you the tools to witness your Christian life to others. If you are at a secular college or one of another faith, get involved with the Newman Club or its equivalent. We had a terrific Catholic Club at Harvard. I joined it as soon as I got there. Mass was available in Harvard Square every day. We had a fascinating chaplain who was convinced I could never possibly have a vocation to be a priest. Now this priest asks you to grow greater still, keep the faith, pray for your family and for me and make us all proud of you with all God has called you to be.