By Rory Mahon ’18
The Sophomore Division is rapidly approaching the halfway point of its time at Chaminade, and with the mounting stress of classes and activities, members of the tenth grade must periodically encounter Christ to be reminded of the spiritual aspect of Chaminade. Last Thursday, over 220 sophomores gathered to do just that.
During Encounter, a sophomore evening of recollection, sophomores were given the opportunity to participate in a friendly handball competition among the homerooms. They also enjoyed dinner with their friends before filling into Hearst auditorium for an hour of Eucharistic adoration and reflection. Mr. Michael Foley ’99 introduced the holy hour that would cap off their evening of recollection. “From encountering each other and encountering each other’s spirit, you are encountering God himself,” said Mr. Foley. He also noted the tremendous enthusiasm and support of the sophomore division as every seat in Hearst was full.
After Mr. Foley finished addressing the students, musician Anthony Muhs led everyone in song further guiding them into a state of reverence. In the peace and stillness of the auditorium, the Holy Sacrament was brought in and placed on the altar in front of everyone. In the presence of the Eucharist, Mr. Salvatore Garofalo ’08 told a story about a life-changing encounter he had with Christ.
Five years ago, he was working in an obstetrician’s office in pursuit of attending medical school. On one unsuspecting day, a Jewish woman, who was nine months pregnant with her first son, walked into the practice for a check up. As the doctor finished the check up and told the woman she would give birth during that week, her water broke. Without hesitating, the doctor told Mr. Garofalo, “I need you to be brave.” After getting over the initial shock, he was able to help the doctor and send the woman to the hospital to safely deliver her baby. Mr. Garofalo explained that he was able to help because of his faith, and that this experience was an encounter with Christ.
The whole situation parallels the story of Mary and Jesus. Mary, a Jewish woman, was ready to give birth to the son of God, but was not in a desirable location when her water broke. Despite her situation, she successfully gave birth to her son and couldn’t be happier, similar to this woman’s story.
Mr. Garofalo drew the comparison between Mary and this woman and explained how he considers this an encounter with Christ. He believed this to be true on three different levels: in fear, in strength, and in life. First, fear. Just as Mr. Garofalo was fearful to help the doctor as the woman’s water broke, we are fearful to preach about our faith. After facing an encounter with Christ, Mr. Garofalo learned that we have to answer the question “What would Jesus want me to do?” in the trying moments when God tests us.
Next, he observed strength, and not necessarily his strength, but the strength of the mother. Childbirth requires a lot of strength, and she exhibited strength not only in her willingness and joy in childbirth, but also in her insistence on walking to the hospital. Mr. Garofalo stressed that we need to apply the same principles to our faith. Regardless of how many times or how harshly our beliefs are challenged, we can find the strength to stand up for our faith with the help of our encounters with God. Lastly, Mr. Garofalo encountered God in life. He explained, “Every encounter with life, whether it’s new life in the form of a baby or life in the form of your friends, family, or just someone in need is an encounter with Jesus.”
Mr. Garofalo’s speech was followed by a few more songs from Mr. Muhs and the conclusion of Eucharistic adoration. In these moments, the sophomores realized they were encountering Christ in a very special way. “It was an excellent opportunity to encounter Christ as well as our own classmates,” said Sean Cunnane ‘19. “Mr. Garofalo’s speech certainly gave us something to reflect on during adoration.”
The Class of 2019 has a lot in front of them, but with their newfound strength from their encounter with God, there is no doubt that each and every one of them can persevere and be the man God wants them to be.