By Brandon Teixeira ’16
By this time, every senior has one thing on his mind: college. Going to college is a big step in life and brings with it a sense of independence and freedom. While college can be a great place for students to expand their horizons, it can also lead to a loss of religious faith. Each year, the Chaminade seniors gather for a final prayer service where they are presented with advice on how to keep their faith alive while in college. This year, the class of 2016 received Spiritual Survival Kits and heard three speakers tell their own stories about faith.
Mr. Matthew Chicavich ’98 opened up the prayer service with a statement about how Chaminade not only takes students on an intellectual journey, but also a spiritual one. After a short video, Mr. Michael Dolce ’99 gave a speech about his own faith. He referenced an ESPN E:60 film about a girl named Kayla, a promising soccer player who had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. After her diagnosis, she took up running track and eventually got better and better, due in part to her outstanding coach. Mr. Dolce compared the students’ faith journey to the coach helping Kayla during a race. Kayla’s coach was always there giving her encouragement when she was on the side of the track near him and there to catch her at the end. However, during the middle of each lap, when she was on the far side of the track, Kayla could not hear her coach and had to run on her own. Mr. Dolce equated this to our faith journey. We are reminded each day that we have Jesus encouraging and guiding us through high school. However, when we get to college, we will be on the far side of the track, so we will have to keep faith in God and remember that he is always there, waiting for us at the end.
After a second video, Fr. Sean Magaldi ’05 gave a speech about his own college experience at Adelphi. He spoke in particular about a class he took on the Book of Genesis, where his beliefs were constantly questioned, leading him to gradually draw away from God. After looking for the Catholic Club and other students who shared his beliefs, he realized that he was not alone. He was inspired to pray for Christ to show him a sign that he was there. He got that sign on a service trip to Kentucky. He met a man who was a former drug addict and was assigned to work at the parish. The man became filled with faith after talking with the priests who were there. Fr. Sean gradually began to see how God could work in subtle ways. The man had taken his life back after being filled with love of the Gospel. However, the former addict then lost his young daughter to a freak accident. The man was devastated, but explained to Fr. Sean that keeping the faith and turning to the Gospel can make any situation, no matter how dire, better. This was a major turning point in Fr. Sean’s life, as he began to see the immense power of the Gospel. He reiterated at the end of his speech that God wants us to follow him and is even coming to our hearts; we just have to let him in.
After a third video, Mr. Chicavich told the class about his tough college experience and how he got involved with the wrong crowd. God was really not a part of his life. He was struggling with all kinds of challenges, including depression, and could not bring himself to be happy. However, he decided to pray the rosary, and immediately he began to feel better. He continued and that eventually led him to become the faith-filled man that he is today. Mr. Chicavich then challenged the seniors to look to the Gospel and to Christ when things get tough for them in college and throughout their lives.
At the end, Fr. Garrett Long, S. M. ’62 blessed the Senior Survival Kits, and each senior was given one to take home and save for college. Each kit contained a bible, rosary beads, and a statue of Mary to help each senior’s faith survive his college years. “The talks by people who have already gone through college and kept their own faith were truly the most enlightening because I got a first-hand account of how to handle faith adversity not only in college, but throughout the rest of my life,” said Jack Rogers ’16. The Chaminade faculty has done its part in giving each senior the opportunity to keep his faith throughout the rest of his life. Now it is up to each and every one of them to either accept the challenge and continue his faith on the other side of the track.