Sunday, August 26, 2012

Bros. Eguino, Malusa Make Perpetual Profession

Bros. Michael Eguino,
Robert Malusa
Make Perpetual Profession

Two Salesians made their perpetual profession on Saturday, Aug. 18, at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw-Stony Point, N.Y. They were Bro. Robert Malusa, SDB, 47, and Bro. Michael Eguino, SDB, 27.

Fr. Tom Dunne, our provincial, received the vows. Bishop Luc Van Looy, SDB, of Ghent, Belgium, presided over the Mass of Religious Profession and gave the homily.
Bp. Luc preaching the homily

Both brothers made their first profession of vows in 2006 at Mary Help of Christians Church in New York City following their year of novitiate there.

Bro. Rob is the son of Dominick and the late Marie Malusa and entered the SDBs from Locust Valley, N.Y.; the family belonged to St. Gertrude’s Church in Bayville, where his father still worships. He has three brothers, John, Mark, and Stephen.

Before “discovering” the SDBs, Rob taught math for 15 years in two private schools; the second was a Lutheran school that scheduled missionary-service trips every year at Christmas time. After taking part in several of these, he was looking for a longer-term program. The pastor of the school highly recommended the Salesian Lay Missioners, to which Rob applied and was accepted.

He was posted to Sierra Leone in 2002 and wound up working in the home founded for street children by Fr. John Thompson (originally of our province) in Freetown; many of these kids had been child soldiers during the country’s brutal civil war (graphically depicted in the 2006 film Blood Diamond).
Bro. Rob professes perpetual vows before Fr. Tom Dunne. The witnesses are Fr. Dom DeBlase (left) and Bro. Bernie Zdanowicz (2d from left).

Rob loved this apostolic work, as he witnessed an “amazing transformation” in these boys and girls and, eventually, a reunion with their parents or other relatives. The program involved work, play, and a gradual introduction to faith at the youngsters’ own pace in “a very free, open, and natural” manner.

Working with the SDBs in Freetown also answered a quest of Rob. He’d been working with young people as a teacher, and he’d seen the impact that a particularly charismatic person could have on selected individuals. But he wanted to reach more than a few individuals, and he wanted to be part of a group or a team in that effort. He found that among the SDBs.

He also found that he was already—without having been aware of it—practicing the Salesian method of education, based on reason, religion, and kindness.

So on his return from Sierra Leone in the summer of 2003, he began to think about applying to the SDBs. The following summer he entered the formation program at Orange, N.J.

After his first vows, Bro. Rob returned to Orange for two years of further formation and for studies in pastoral ministry at Seton Hall University.

In 2008 he was assigned as youth minister to St. Philip Benizi Church in Belle Glade, Fla. He oversees an extensive program of religious education, Bible study, CYO, and other recreational activities for youngsters from tots to teens, and lives in community with several other SDBs. He continues in that apostolic work as a lay member of the Salesian Society (also known as a “coadjutor brother”).

Bro. Mike is from St. Benedict’s Church in the Throgs Neck section of the Bronx. His parents are Rose and Ubaldo Eguino, and he has three younger siblings: Christine, Matthew, and Stephen. Steve just entered the SDB novitiate in California.

Mike graduated from Salesian High School in New Rochelle in 2002 and entered the SDB candidacy program in Orange that September. During the three years that he was a candidate in Orange, he worked in the Don Bosco Youth Center affiliated with the Salesian house and Our Lady of the Valley Church. Happily, he recalls that one of the “street kids” he assisted in those years was a very young Kyrie Irving, who went on to play basketball in high school, at Duke University, and in the NBA; he was the NBA rookie of the year in 2012. Another was Jason Alford, who went on to play football at Penn State and for three NFL teams, including the New York Giants Super Bowl champs of 2007.
Bro. Mike makes perpetual vows  before Fr. Tom Dunne. The witnesses are Fr. John Nazzaro (back to camera) and Fr. Jim Berning (2d from left).

After his 1st profession in 2006, Bro. Mike continued his formation with two more years in Orange, including the completion of a B.A. at Seton Hall University.

For two years (2008-2010) Bro. Mike taught world history and theology to freshmen at Salesian High School. He did a third year of practical training at Don Bosco Retreat Center in Haverstraw-Stony Point, assisting with both youth and adult retreats. He says that the program cared for 20,000 people that year. He also helped initiate a regular program of Eucharistic adoration for young adults at the Marian Shrine (to which the Retreat Center is attached). Bro. Mike’s musical talent—he sings and plays guitar—facilitate his apostolic work.

Bro. Mike credits the development of his vocation to the “witness” of Fr. John Nazzaro, who was director of Salesian High School while Michael was a student there. Fr. Nazzaro, he says, created “a welcoming space” for the students in his office, was always around the students, and at times joined in their games. He fostered friendship with the students and supported their families in times of illness and loss, as the Eguinos experienced.

So when Fr. Nazzaro asked Mike whether he’d thought about becoming a Salesian, the youth was open to the suggestion. The “maybe” became a “yes” after Mass one day with the prayer group he belonged to, the Children of Light at Providence Rest Nursing Home, and he sensed the Lord’s commitment to be with him.

Bro. Mike has felt that presence during various times of difficulty, he says. His prayer life as a Salesian leaves him knowing that he’s not alone.

Bro. Mike also notes that he’s been privileged to live with some holy SDBs, to live among many men striving to become holy, and to work with some young people who want to be holy.

In 2011 Bro. Mike began theological studies at Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, aiming at priestly ordination in 2015. He is, once again, a member of the SDB formation community in Orange.
Deacon Miguel Suarez, Fr. Tom Dunne, Bro. Rob Malusa, Bp. Luc Van Looy, Bro. Mike Eguino, Fr. Steve Leake

Bishop Van Looy based his homily on the Scripture readings (Jer 1:4-9; Luke 10:1-9), reminding the two men that their commitment this day is a response to the love that God gave first to them. He charged them to be messengers of hope, especially for the young, and to keep the young in their hearts. The mission of the Salesian, he said, is to make people feel loved by the Lord. He reminded them that God would never leave them without support, and he told them to be supportive of their confreres in community. He said that making profession within the context of the Eucharist is fitting because, as the Lord poured out his life for us, the professed religious gives himself constantly to people. Thus both Eucharist and the religious are signs of God’s will being done, of God’s kingdom that is to come. The Eucharist fills us with God’s life and his love.

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