Taking Up the Cross: Bro. Patrick Cahill, Bro. Peter Sennert and Bro. Andrew Santoriello Join the Society of Mary

By Aidan Fitzgerald ’18

In Matthew 28:10, part of the Gospel traditionally read on Easter Sunday, the Risen Christ requests that Mary Magdalene instruct the Apostles to travel to Galilee.  By returning to the place where they first encountered Jesus, the Apostles returned to their roots.

Chaminade High School has introduced many young men to their faith and instilled a devotion to Christ in their hearts and minds, just as the events at Galilee planted the seeds of faith in Christ’s first followers.   Christ’s disciples revisited the place of their first exposure to the faith in order to experience His presence once again; similarly, several graduates have “come home” to Chaminade to answer their call to serve God.

Bro. Patrick, Bro. Peter, and Bro. Andrew took their Marianist vows on July 16, 2016.

This past summer, three young men officially became novices in the Society of Mary.  Bro. Patrick Cahill, n.S.M., ’11; Bro. Peter Sennert, n.S.M., ’11; and Bro. Andrew Santoriello, n.S.M., ’07 all made their promises of the novitiate, a precursor to full religious vows, and began to wear the Marianist habit of a black suit and tie.  (The lower-case “n” stands for “novice.”)  

For the duration of this school year, these three Marianist novices plan on continuing their spiritual education to grow in the faith and knowledge that will be the foundation of their religious life.  Fr. Garrett Long, S.M. ’62, the novice master for the Province of Meribah, is overseeing their religious formation.

Although the three are now members of the same Community, the paths they took to arrive there differed significantly.

Feeling drawn to a religious vocation as early as his sophomore year in high school, Bro. Patrick consistently developed his faith while at Chaminade.  His involvement in Emmaus, Apostles, and P.R.E.P. attracted him to both teaching and leading a life consecrated to God.  During his time as a student, he became close with Bro. Peter Heiskell, S.M. ’86, who, seeing his potential to serve God as a Marianist brother, first invited Patrick to seriously consider the possibility.

They have taken a courageous step – I would dare say even a heroic one – by returning to their roots and now looking forward to an exciting future of serving the Lord, His Blessed Mother, and the people of God.

– Bro. Stephen

After high school, Bro. Patrick attended Fordham University, where he majored in Spanish, rowed crew, and was involved in service projects in the Bronx with the Jesuits.  Deeply impressed with the Jesuit mission, he spent his junior and senior years of college thinking about joining the Society of Jesus.  

A homily given by Pope Francis on Easter Sunday, however, inspired him to return to the place of his first personal encounter with God, Chaminade High School.  After all, Chaminade is where the idea of a religious vocation had started “pulling on my heart,” explained Bro. Patrick.  

Bro. Patrick spent the 2015-2016 school year discerning his calling while also teaching Spanish I and II, moderating a P.R.E.P. group, and assisting with Emmaus projects and retreats.  The young “discerner,” as someone in his position is typically called within religious congregations, quickly fell in love with teaching and living with the brothers of the Marianist Community.  These newly discovered passions prompted him to dedicate himself to the Society’s mission of bringing young people closer to God.

Much like Bro. Patrick, Bro. Peter Sennert’s vocation began to take shape during his time as a student at Chaminade.  Starting at the end of his sophomore year, Bro. Peter explored his faith through his many retreats to Founder’s Hollow, most often at the invitation of Bro. Thomas Cleary, S.M. ’81.  Bro. Peter also frequented Chaminade’s lunchtime prayer service.

“I went to the prayer service every day, and there was always a minute of silence in the presence of the Eucharist,” said Bro. Peter.  “That was my minute to ask God what he wanted from me.”

This frequent conversation with God led him to give serious consideration to a religious vocation.  At the end of high school, Bro. Peter was not quite ready to become a Marianist, so he journeyed to Washington, D.C. to study at The Catholic University of America, where he continued to ponder his future with a campus vocation-discernment group.   Bro. Peter also spent a portion of each of his summers living in a Marianist “discernment community” here at Chaminade, organized by vocation director Bro. Stephen Balletta, S.M. ’74.

I went to the prayer service every day, and there was always a minute of silence in the presence of the Eucharist. That was my minute to ask God what he wanted from me.

– Bro. Peter

Upon his college graduation, Bro. Peter felt ready to join the Community at Chaminade.  After a year of living with the brothers and teaching English II and biology, he was ready to don the habit of the Marianist order and begin living out the promises of the novitiate.

Bro. Andrew followed still another route to religious life.  In high school, he knew that such a life was an option, but he did not think very much about it.  He attended Stonehill College after graduating from Chaminade and then taught at several schools over the following three years – even spending a year in China teaching English – but he struggled to find the right fit for himself.  Above all, Bro. Andrew sought to deepen his faith and grow closer to God.

The answer to his prayers arrived unexpectedly.  He happened to pick up St. Louis de Montfort’s True Devotion to Mary on St. Louis de Montfort’s feast day.  Although this occurrence may have seemed like a coincidence at first, Bro. Andrew viewed it as a sign from Mary herself.  This faithful young man, who has had a longtime devotion to the Blessed Mother, decided to call Bro. Stephen once he finished reading de Montfort’s book.  After talking with Bro. Steve, he decided to further discern his vocation by living in Community with the Marianists.

When I came back here, it felt like I was coming home.

– Bro. Andrew

During his two years of discernment with the Marianist Community, Bro. Andrew taught music for one year at his home parish grade school of Sts. Philip and James and then, during his second year of discernment, at Chaminade.   Bro. Andrew concluded that joining the brothers would offer him the fulfillment for which he had been looking.  The familiarity of the Marianist order made the transition smoother for Bro. Andrew, just as it did for his fellow novices.

“When I came back here, it felt like I was coming home,” Bro. Andrew explained.

As the vocation director for the Province of Meribah, Bro. Steve kept in touch with the three new brothers after they graduated Chaminade.  He invited them to pray and to eat with the Community, and eventually welcomed them as they further discerned their callings.  After many discussions with Bro. Steve, along with the rest of the community, Patrick, Peter, and Andrew were ready to take their first steps toward becoming brothers in the Society of Mary.  They are now determined to live out their vocations to serve God through a devotion to Mary and the education of young people.

“Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28:10), the Risen Jesus tells Mary Magdalene.  In a way that resembles the Apostles’ return to Galilee following the Resurrection, Bro. Patrick Cahill, Bro. Peter Sennert, and Bro. Andrew Santoriello have returned to their own Galilee – to the Marianist Community that nurtured their developing faith life and first planted in them the seeds of a religious vocation.

“They have taken a courageous step – I would dare say even a heroic one,” said Bro. Stephen, “by returning to their roots and now looking forward to an exciting future of serving the Lord, His Blessed Mother, and the people of God.”