When we find something missing,
we often hear the call again.

The Brothers are here to help you discern your vocation in life.


As graduation from college approached, you thought about the call again . . . but you chose a different path. Law school. Banking. Engineering. No matter the work, it just isn’t fulfilling. The tug at your heart to serve God and your neighbor is still there. You’re hearing the call again.

MEN WHO WERE CALLED TO RISE

JAMES “JIM” MARTINO

THEN: TEACHER.

Jim had the privilege of getting to know the Christian Brothers during the first part of his high school career in Buffalo, New York. However, when his family moved, Jim did not graduate from the Brothers’ school he was attending and did not end up attending a Lasallian college. He ultimately decided to become a teacher, but still felt that things religious were important to him. He found himself wondering about the life of the Brothers he had met and been taught by. During college, Jim joined the Brothers’ discernment program. After student teaching and graduating from college, he took the next step in his discernment.

“I decided I had to give it a try for at least a year to see if it was for me. That was over 30 years ago, and I am still here–being Brother is a fit for me.”

NOW: CHRISTIAN BROTHER.

Jim thought he would become a health and speech teacher, and maybe even coach debate or swimming, educating young people in the same traditional Catholic high school that helped form his vocational call. When he was introduced to our Lasallian ministry with young people and families involved in the child welfare system, Jim’s plans completely changed. During his career as a Brother, he has been a special education teacher, outdoor and recreation program manager, ropes course facilitator, health care and behavior health services manager, as well as a facilities and food services manager — all in service to young men in residential treatment.

“It is in this work that I truly feel I follow the call of St. John Baptist de La Salle and our God. There is richness in serving those entrusted to your care, being all things you want to be in your life, and a man of prayer.”

STEVEN BARBARO

THEN: RYSSAPHORE MONK.

There was always a calling in Steven’s life to serve God, even as far back as his youth living on Long Island, New York. But without encouragement or guidance, he would eventually make his way into education as a middle school social studies teacher in the Bronx. The call to religious life stayed with him, and he eventually transitioned to a contemplative life in a monastery in upstate New York for over seven years — but he missed teaching young people. The Spirit would soon lead him to the Christian Brothers.

“What brought me to the De La Salle Christian Brothers is their unmistakable inner experience of peace, joy, and zeal in educating all of God’s children.”

NOW: CHRISTIAN BROTHER.

Steven started volunteering in the winter of 2015 at The De La Salle School, a San Miguel middle school in Freeport on Long Island. He knew the Christian Brothers were the right fit and took the next steps in his discernment beginning with Postulancy followed by the Novitiate. Brother Steven is now serving as a 9th and 10th grade religion and history teacher at Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“You should be honored that God is calling you! His call is speaking to your soul, and saying I will give you eternity. If you have a calling to serve God, try it out. He will always open another door if it is not the right fit.”

AUGUSTINE “AUGIE” NICOLETTI

THEN: SALES REPRESENTATIVE.

There were many stops along the journey for Augustine, including secondary teaching and, at an early age, college administration. Then, a totally different opportunity presented itself — a shift from education to the world of business. Augustine first became a sales representative for a food brokerage firm selling nationally known brands. A second position came shortly after as a food buyer for a national warehouse. And although he was successful, deep down he felt there was something missing. There had to be more to life than just accumulating “things” to make oneself happy. Throughout his time of discernment, he felt this inner push and pull for something wholly other. Reading the writings of Henri Nouwen, Augustine identified with one particular statement:

“Our reason for being is to know and love the God of all creation. In this becoming one with God, our purpose is fulfilled.”

NOW: CHRISTIAN BROTHER.

Augustine began to identify and resonate with this simple yet complex belief: God is at the center of all things. After much discernment and spiritual direction, Augustine came to recognize God’s call and invitation to live and embrace the life of a De La Salle Christian Brother. Because of his saying yes to God’s call, Augustine has had the joy of serving the Brothers in many exciting ministries and places. Augustine knew that God was the driving force, and it was God’s plan as he ministered in the US, but also beyond the borders to serve in places like Ethiopia and Jamaica.

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?” I felt called to answer, “Here I am Lord, send me.” (Isaiah 6:8)

KEN KALINOWSKI

THEN: RESTAURANT MANAGER.

Ken grew up in the city of Detroit, and would go on to graduate from Villanova University with a degree in history and philosophy, and received his teaching certificate from the University of Detroit, followed by a Masters in Educational Leadership from Marygrove College. Ken began teaching at St. Cunegunda in Detroit before stepping back from the educational world to try his hand at restaurant management. There was something missing, and Ken thought about his time at his high school alma mater, De La Salle Collegiate, and the Brothers who served there.

“My family has always been supportive of me and my vocation! I have been so blessed with them and I am grateful for them and the laughter that we share.”

NOW: CHRISTIAN BROTHER.

It was through support, spiritual direction, and discernment that Ken joined the Brothers and has served in ministries in Buffalo, Syracuse, the Bronx, and Manhattan, New York. For most of his career as a Brother, he has been involved in athletics and has taught math, history, and theology. Ken was even given the opportunity to engage in missionary work in Papua New Guinea. Today, Ken has come full circle and serves as the principal for his alma mater, De La Salle Collegiate, as well as community director for his fellow Brothers, attending daily Mass with his supportive Lasallian family.

“I really enjoy having the connection with students in the classroom, and see that ‘light bulb’ go on as they understand a concept that was once foreign to them. If someone asks me if the Brothers are relevant and needed today, I would say NOW more than ever!”

ANTHONY “TONY” BAGINSKI

THEN: US COAST GUARD.

Growing up on a small-town farm outside Antigo, Wisconsin, Tony Baginski had a desire to serve his country. He graduated with a BS in Math and Computer Science in 1991—his first tour of duty was in Sitka, Alaska, as a buoy tender. Serving with an energetic crew, Tony recalls his commanding officer as “an excellent mentor modeling the actions that he expected from everyone on the crew.” Tony moved on to second in command of another buoy tender in Connecticut, and later attended graduate school where he earned his MBA and an MS in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Like other men and women, he continued to enjoy the Coast Guard’s mission—but there was something missing.

It was during his time at graduate school and teaching at the Coast Guard Academy that Tony began to reexamine his life’s vocational calling. He met the Sisters of  Saint Benedict in Ferdinand and was inspired by their incredible educational expertise and life-transforming sense of joy.

“I figured if I could find an order of dedicated men with such characteristics, I would join immediately.”

NOW: CHRISTIAN BROTHER.

That’s when Tony discovered the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Over the next seven years he came to know the men and their vocation, eventually igniting his second career. “What drew me to the Brothers was their commitment to provide ‘a human and Christian education’ to the students they taught. This is what I strive to accomplish every day.”

PAUL AVVENTO

THEN: TEACHER.

Paul served as a teacher and administrator in Catholic education for 10 years, working with technology, elementary school faith formation, and everything in between. While Paul enjoyed autonomy in his life—the freedom that came with having a paycheck and choosing how to spend it, the freedom of having an apartment and choosing how to live in it—he also was drawn to many aspects of the Brothers’ life. But he insisted on experiencing them on his terms. For years, Paul felt that if God was calling him to join the Christian Brothers, he wouldn’t need to spend time actually discerning the call.

“Deep down I knew it was my calling. I just didn’t want to accept it.”

He eventually took the first step and attended a discernment retreat, and soon after asked for permission to move into a Brother’s community. “Within two months of deep discernment, I knew I was called to the Brothers’ life.”

NOW: CHRISTIAN BROTHER.

Becoming a Brother has afforded Paul the opportunity to truly be of service to the needs of students and the school in a way he never could before. “The feeling is not going to go away. Spend just one year seriously discerning this life—you have the opportunity to take small steps with the Brothers…give us a try and then at least you’ll know!

God is calling men to become Christian Brothers. Whatever your talents and gifts, you are ready to consider the Brothers’ vocation!

Answer Your Call to Rise

Start a Conversation Today

“I was not surprised by Brother Tony’s words, ‘It took me three years to make the decision.’ I hope it struck a chord with you. How many years have you been considering the Brothers? As other Brothers have said, ‘The pressure is low and the support is high.’ All you can do is try.”

I’m Here to Walk with You
Connect with me to answer your call to rise.

Brother Edward Shields
(718) 809-1220
shields@fscdena.org

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