“I joined the Brothers of the Christian Schools because the brothers place great emphasis on community life and community is an important way that sustains me”
1/13/2012 – Pittsburgh, PA — Adapted from an article written by Phil Taylor, Associate Editor for the Pittsburgh Catholic
For Christian Brother Anthony “Tony” Baginski, his road to discerning a religious vocation would ultimately take him seven years.
Born in the small farming town of Antigo, Wis., both his grandparents owned farms and he helped out with them during high school. It was also during that tilne he realized “I wanted to be apart of a differenf tradition.”
Accepted into the Coast Guard Academy, he graduated as an ensign in May 1991.
“I served in the Coast Guard for 11 years, including two tours on buoy tenders (Inside Passage of Alaska and Long Island Sound), and was an associate professor at the Coast Guard Academy. I left the Coast Guard as a lieutenant commander and began my high school teaching career at st. Bernard High School in Uncasville, Conn.,” he said.
Brother Tony’s parents, Florian and Monica, still live in Antigo. He has three sisters, two nephews and two nieces.
My family fully supporfed me throughout the (discernment) process, especially when they saw how comfortable I am as a religious. My grandmother had two sisters who became nuns and a brother who was a priest, so in a sense I am part of a tradition.”
In addition to a degree in math and computer science from the Coast Guard Academy, he earned a master’s in computer science and an MBA from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He currently is working toward a master’s in religious studies from La Salle University in Philadelphia.
Brother Tony has taught in middle school, high school and college. Before joining the Christian Brothers, he became the principal of st. Bernard High School.
“While I was successful as an officer in the Coast Guard and as a teacher, I felt that there was something missing from my life. I had been in a number of relationships, with two being serious, but did not feel that married life nor the single life was right for me.
“I had worked with an order of Benedictine sisters in Ferdinand, Ind., and was impressed with their spirituality as well as their community life. I investigated a number of orders, but found that the brothers’ ministry of teachlng and their emphasis on community attracted me,” he said.
“I left the Coast Guard to teach at a Catholic high school and to discern my vocation. I did consider becoming a diocesan priest, but soon realized that the apostolic ministry of education was where I belonged. On and off for seven years I discerned my vocation, investigating different religious orders and visiting a number of them, including the Salesians, Benedictines, Trappists, Jesuits, Franciscans and the Xaverians. I joined the Brothers of the Christian Schools because the brothers place great emphasis on community life and community is an important way that sustains me.”
Brother Tony’s ministry has also included teaching part time at San Miguel Middle School in Camden, NJ. He currently teaches algebra 1 and 2 and works with the campus minister at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. He also helps coach wrestling at the high school. His other interests are reading, travel and weight-lifting.
Brother Tony said living in community reinforces his vocation.
“The community aspect. The daily prayer in community, the celebration of significant events, the support and fellowship in the community. The example of how the brothers live out their vocation, their prayer life, how they help each other and care for each other to really form a community.” .
He also said prayer has a purpose in his life.
“Daily prayer, however perfect or imperfect it is some days, is the foundation which gives meaning to my vocation as a brother, and the fruits of daily prayer is shown in how I act toward my students, my colleagues and the members of my community,” he said.
What advice does he offer to any man who is thinking of pursuing a religious vocation?
“Take· the plunge! The only way to know if you are called to a religious vocation is to enter. Many people mistakenly believe that they have to be 100 percent sure before they enter. In reality, the discernment really begins once you join. In my case, it will be at least five years fromwhen I entered before I would be eligible for final vows – more than enough time to discern.”
Brother Tony said his search for fulfillment is now over.
“After searching for most of my adult life, I can say that I was meant to be a Brother of the Christian Schools.”
Currently, 6,000 brothers are serving in educational facilities including: kindergarten, elementary, middle, high schools, institutions for troubled youth ulliversities, graduate schools, and educational centers in 82 countries throughout the world.