Creating Opportunities

Profile of An Ignatian Educator
Animating the Jesuit Mission

Religious Studies Teachers Callaghan and Gambone Aid Mission And Ministry Efforts

Religious Studies teacher Mike Gambone remembers attending the Ignatian Family Teach-In in Washington, DC and being fascinated by the presentations offered by other schools.

“Schools were doing incredible programming for students with regards to mission and we were very excited to bring the ideas back,” Gambone says. “We learned that many of those schools had more resources than ours in the area of Mission and Ministry so anything we wanted to add would need to be supported.”

Gambone and fellow teacher Dino Pinto P ’25 developed a proposal to more formally utilize members of the Religious Studies Department to assist the Office of Mission and Ministry in creating more opportunities to impact the prayer/liturgical life of our students and also commit more resources to social justice initiatives with our neighbors. This plan was well received by School President John Marinacci P’27 and Department Chairs Pete Callaghan and Sheri San Chirico and the plan was enacted.

Gambone and Callaghan are the first two members of the Religious Studies Department to occupy these roles, with the concept that others will rotate in as the plan evolves.

One of the big successes of this new partnership is AMDG Fridays. Typically held on the first Friday of each month, this is an opportunity for students to gather in the Church of the Gesu to participate in a spiritual activity of their choosing: Eucharistic adoration, Reconciliation, Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Guided Meditation, and silent prayer are among the options for students.

“We use the term differentiated spirituality,” Gambone says. “Students can choose as they go, to get comfortable with different types of spiritual practices.”

Gambone says this is a great example of the collaborative work that is happening. AMDG Friday is based on something similar that happens at Tampa Jesuit but was expanded to meet the Prep’s needs and the needs of our students. It is also an attempt to give students a church experience that is their own.

“Church historian the late Fr. John O’Malley, S.J., talked about the ‘Jesuit pastoral strategy’ among the first Jesuits, giving people a positive experience of faith where that is lacking,” Gambone says. “This is a way to do that, allowing students to choose a method in which they feel comfortable.”

Callaghan has been actively working with the Prep’s neighbors. Rather than assume we know what’s best, Callaghan engages with block captains and other neighbors to learn what is needed. Prep students can then assist accordingly.

“Having worked on the Thanksgiving Food Drive and Operation Santa Claus, I have developed a good relationship with some of our neighbors so that was a good segue into the work,” says Callaghan. He points to a neighborhood clean up in which students helped neighbors with house projects as a good example. He is also working with block captain Bill Harris on a “Many Blocks, One Family” project in which the Prep will offer safe space for young people to gather and play.

For Callaghan, the work he is doing with Mission and Ministry is a perfect match for his work as a classroom teacher. “This is a natural extension of the classroom, there is so much overlap that one can inform the other,” he says, noting that the commitment to justice was something that attracted him to the Prep in the first place.

Rev. Steve Surovick, S.J., Senior Director of Mission and Ministry, is excited at the opportunities this partnership provides. “We are strengthening the relationship between Mission and Ministry and Religious Studies,” he says. He points to his involvement in several Religious Studies classes, especially the Ignatian Spirituality course taught by Dr. Stew Barbera ’86. He also has celebrated “explanation” Masses for Ms. San Chirico and Ms. Caroline Becker P ’27 and helped explain the dynamics of the Second Vatican Council in the Church of the Gesu for Mr. Bill Kuncken’s Church History course.
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