First Sophomore Homerooms Begin Marked Retreats at Saragossa

By Michael Tsui ’18

The word “vocation” is often thought of as a calling from God to serve Him in the Church.  Many think that the only people who have a vocation are those who fully dedicate themselves as servants to Him.  However, “vocation” means more than just serving God in dedicated life.  “Vocation” signifies a “calling,” and during the sophomore Marked retreats, Chaminade students learn that God calls all of us to use our talents in different ways.

Sophomore homeroom 2L first attended the Marked retreat at Chaminade’s brand new day-retreat house, Saragossa.  Retreats, an important part of the Chaminade experience, offer a chance for students to take a step back from their work and bond with their friends. They also give time for silent reflection and prayer when a student can focus on the most important thing in his life: faith.  

Homeroom 2L gathers in the courtyard of Saragossa to listen to a lecture by Mr. Matthew Chicavich ’98.
Homeroom 2L gathers in the courtyard of Saragossa to listen to a lecture by Mr. Matthew Chicavich ’98.

“At Chaminade we attempt to educate the whole man, and retreats help to develop the students’ spiritual well-being,” said Mr. Thomas Giovannetti.

Mr. Matthew Chicavich ’98 kicked off the Marked retreat with an explanation of the name “Saragossa.”  Blessed William Joseph Chaminade took refuge in this Spanish town during the persecution of the Church during the French Revolution.  While there, he was inspired by Mary to form the Marianists, a religious order dedicated to the Blessed Mother.  Afterwards, he went back to France and began reviving the faith of the French people, and from then on the Marianists became a worldwide religious order.

For the bulk of the morning, 2L split into small discussion groups to talk about various vocations.  Students discussed three different saints: St. Joseph, St. Francis and St. Peter.  Each of these saints contributed to society in different ways, and the groups discussed how we can strive to be more like them.  The students also played ice breaker games like “Heads Up!” where they asked yes or no questions to try and guess the name of the person on the card placed on their head.

Breaking the ice, students play “Heads Up!” a twist on the popular cell phone app.
Breaking the ice, students play “Heads Up!” a twist on the popular cell phone app.

After lunch came two speeches, one from Brother Stephen Balletta, S.M. ’74 and one from Mr. Thomas Giovannetti.  Brother Stephen gave advice to students on how to decide what to do with their lives and how to figure out their calling.  He explained the three main factors to finding a vocation: the talents God has given us, what we want and are interested in doing, and what the world needs.  Though the majority of us may not choose to be Marianists, we will serve God in our professions through our unique talents.      

Mr. Giovannetti delivered the last speech of the day.  He shared a personal story about how he became a teacher at Chaminade.  He talked about all the twists and turns he went through during his years in high school and how those situations led him to his chosen career path.  

“I think you need experience,” Mr. Giovannetti explained. “I learned that I like math and I liked showing people how to do things.  From there it just came together, and I learned that was my vocation.”  

Mr. Giovannetti did not attend Chaminade, but in college he saw an advertisement for a teaching job here.  When he applied and was offered the job, he immediately accepted.  He believes that God helped steer him to that decision and that teaching math at Chaminade is his vocation.  

The retreat ended with Eucharistic Adoration.  Adoration is the time when Catholics can be closest to God while living on Earth.  During this part of the retreat, students had the opportunity to pray and talk to God.  

“I really enjoyed having the opportunity to silently meditate and to be close to God,” said Carlos Torres ’18.

Classmate Kyle Van Houten ’18 echoed those sentiments saying, “The retreat was a great way to escape the chaos of the school day, learn about my classmates, pray, and think about finding my vocation.”

The Marked retreat taught students that whether or not they pursue a life of religious vocation, they have a calling from God.  No matter what path they choose, service to God is found in all professions.