for New Rochelle Province
Bros. Lenny Carlino, Steve Eguino, and Craig Spence made their first profession as Salesians on Friday, Aug. 16, at the Marian Shrine in Haverstraw, N.Y.
|First, the serious post-profession photo: Bro. Lenny, Fr. Tom, Bro. Steve, Bro. Craig...|
|...then they ham it up|
Fr. Tom Dunne presided at the Mass of Religious Profession, preached the homily, and received the vows.
For the next two years the three new brothers will be part of the Salesian formation community in Orange, N.J., and students at Seton Hall University in South Orange.
In addition to the three newly professed of the Eastern Province, Bro. Jhoni Chamorro professed in Bellflower, Calif., for the San Francisco Province. He also will continue his formation in South Orange. All four newly professed made their novitiate in Rosemead, Calif., under the direction of Fr. Bill Keane. Their class started with seven novices.
Bro. Leonard Joseph Carlino, SDB, 22 years old, comes from Hauppauge, N.Y. He was a member of St. Thomas More Parish there and was active in the parish’s Salesian-inspired youth group.
Lenny entered the Salesian formation program at Orange as a candidate in August 2009. He says that he “felt at home with the mission to the young, community life, and living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience” during this period of discernment. He adds that in the different Salesian communities he saw “the witness of joy and optimism.”
In addition to his parents and the Salesian Cooperators in the parish who influenced the youth ministry, Bro. Lenny credits the parish clergy with inspiring his vocation: “One of the greatest influences on my discernment was the deacon at my parish, Deacon Bob Weisz, who always encouraged me and showed his support. Also our two new deacons were a great support and witness. All three, along with our late pastor Fr. Francis Midura, showed by their lives the path of holiness through everyday life, something that translates well into Salesian life and spirituality.”
Lenny was attracted by the Salesians, in the first place, because he found a certain “emptiness” in his life. “I always wanted to work with children, teens, and young adults to some capacity. Yet whenever I thought about being a teacher, or even working with kids, there was always something missing. Once I entered the candidacy program, I found that what was missing was the witness aspect and complete self-gift for the young through profession. They deserve it, and I felt called to it by God, [despite] my own faults and short comings.”
Asked what was the best part of the novitiate year, Bro. Lenny writes: “One of the highlights of the novitiate was the experience of ‘presence’ at Don Bosco Tech in Rosemead for lunch every day. We had no specific task but to be present to the students by talking with them and playing games. It was at the end of the year that we realized how, even though we did nothing showy or flashy, our witness of community life, of following Christ, and overall joy and authenticity was felt by all the students. Also, we were blessed to hear their life stories, about the struggles they go through at home, and school, and with friends. Overall, we were able to share life with them for the year, and support them through the year.”
Bro. Lenny says that he is completely open to whatever God wants for him in the future, and whatever the province may ask him to undertake on behalf of the young. He would like to include music in his ministry, “both playing and teaching it.”
Bro. Stephen Augustine Eguino, SDB, 24 years old, comes from the Bronx, where he was a member of St. Benedict Parish. His older brother Mike is a Salesian, as well, presently part of the Salesian formation community in Orange and studying theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange.
Bro. Steve came to know the Salesians at Camp Don Bosco in Putnam Valley as well as from his brother’s attending Salesian High in New Rochelle. Steve followed his brother to Salesian, graduating in 2007. He attended St. John's University for a year and SUNY Maritime College for two years, studying engineering, before making his decision to enter the Salesian formation program at Orange in August 2010.
In addition to his brother, who “showed me what perseverance was and always encouraged me to take my faith seriously,” Steve was influenced in his vocation discernment by Fr. Steve Ryan of the Salesian Youth Ministry Office. Steve says the priest “was athletic, funny, and a genuine person who I could tell cared about my family and me in a way that Jesus calls us to love one another. He constantly welcomed me and invited me to join in different athletic and Salesian events.” He also credits a former pastor of St. Benedict’s, Fr. Richard Smith, with “helping me during the time when I felt the call to the priesthood and showing a sincere concern and accompaniment for me during that time.”
In deciding to join the Salesians, Steve says, “Everything that I enjoy and I am good at, I have learned through the Salesians. I want to share the things that bring me happiness in life. I want to share them especially with the young and poor. I want to walk with them and show them it is possible to live your life with Christ at the center through the charism of St. John Bosco.”
During his novitiate year in Rosemead, Bro. Steve found the best part of the program “was the young people we encountered from all different walks of life. They challenged us to be ready to accompany them, and they challenged us to be always authentic people and not put on a show for them for the sake of entertainment. They wanted real people to talk to and share their stories with, who would listen and not judge them, and be there as a friend who could help them in their times of trial.”
For the immediate future, Bro. Steve “wants to continue to serve the young with the fire in my heart that I have right now, especially after first profession. I want to keep that fire burning for as long as God is calling me.”
He has “no particular apostolate I hope to specialize in, but if I had to lean in a certain area it would be sports and music,” he says. “I have been blessed with many talents, and they are mainly sports- and music-related. I can use these areas to bring young people closer to Christ and show them the joys of having a personal relationship with God.”
Bro. Charles Craig Spence, SDB, 36 years old, is originally from Mobile, Ala., and belonged to Our Savior Parish there. But has spent most of his life in Pass Christian, Miss., where he was a member of Holy Family Parish.
Craig came to the Salesians as a lay missioner, serving as a youth minister and living with the Salesian community at Don Bosco Tech in Paterson, N.J., in 2001-2002. Very quickly he won the confidence of the students as well as the Salesians, and he also won the nickname “Missionary Craig.” When the school was closed in May 2002, he moved over to Mary Help of Christians Parish on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to do a second volunteer year as the parish’s youth minister (taking his nickname with him). So successful was he with the young people that the parish hired him in 2003, and he stayed on as youth minister and part of the Salesian community, which also included the novices at that time.
The New York Archdiocese closed the parish in May 2007, and Craig returned to Mississippi for several years, working still as a parish youth minister—and considering his future. Drawn by “the mission to serve the young and the poor,” by 2011 he’d decided that his future lay with the Salesians. He entered the formation program in Orange.
Bro. Craig says that the best part of his novitiate year was “having the opportunity to grow in my prayer life.” For the immediate future, he “just wants to do my duties well.”
Fr. Tom’s homily pointed to the Mass readings’ focus on God’s intention in calling people and God’s love for us.
Like the judge Samuel (cf. 1 Sam 3:1-10), Fr. Tom said, the three candidates for profession heard a call from God. His call isn’t an affirmation of something already done but is about what God has done in and through us, and sometimes in spite of us. We don’t choose religious life; we are drawn to it by God. He calls; we respond.
Fr. Tom found three significant points in the story of Samuel’s call and what it means for us.
1. God’s call is rooted in the first moments of our existence, like Samuel’s, who was wondrously conceived in answer to his mother’s prayers. Then it’s a blessing for us, as for Samuel, to be called by name in order to fulfill a certain dream.
2. God’s call is nourished in a way of life that lives out our baptismal commitment—in family, parish, and the Salesian community.
3. Our response to the call is only the beginning. Vocation doesn’t end with first profession; it continues to nourish, challenge, and affirm us. Our posture has to be like Samuel’s: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” For the Lord to teach us, we have to be quiet and listen, and we have to remember that the servant isn’t in charge; he follows.
Mary knew that (cf. Luke 1:26-38), Fr. Tom continued. She follows the pattern of Hannah (Samuel’s mother) and Samuel, of John the Baptist and Elizabeth; she’s faithful to her Hebrew faith. She responds humbly to the angel that she’s the Lord’s servant. She listened to the Lord her whole life, reflecting on what he was doing in her life.
Fr. Tom noted that on Aug. 16 we were celebrating Don Bosco’s 198th birthday. He responded to a call from God in a dream, somewhat like Samuel’s call—a call to reach out to the young who were in need. He was told to follow the guidance he’d receive from Mary, who became central to his entire life.
Profession is the start of a lifelong commitment to our mission and to our brothers, Fr. Tom said. “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” is the guideline for those about to profess, and Mary is their guide. They will find God while meeting the young. They will meet Jesus in prayer and the sacraments, so that what God is beginning in them today may be brought to its completion.