The Salesian Community at Don Bosco Prep is proud that Kevin White ‘16 and John Castonguay will be making their First Profession as Salesians on Saturday, August 15 at the Marian Shrine in Stony Point, NY.
While Kevin is a graduate of Don Bosco Prep, John spent a year at Don Bosco as a candidate, teaching History. Their paths came together at Don Bosco as they entered the Salesian pre-novitiate program here in 2018 and began a more formal preparation for consecrated Salesian life.
“I didn’t really think of Salesian life or a vocation until about a month into my senior year,” Kevin said. “My example and inspiration was the relationship I formed with Fr. Matt DeGance, who was the new Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Don Bosco Prep. He had joy and peace because God was first and foremost in his life. I knew there was something there that I wanted, and it was his relationship with God.”
Kevin made a promise to himself that he would pray the rosary every day in October of that year, and within a week, felt a calling to God. He prayed to the Blessed Mother, and knew she had a hand in his vocation. “It was terrifying at first,” Kevin said, “but I knew it was God’s time, not mine.”
After Kevin graduated in 2016, he spent two years attending Seton Hall University before entering the Salesian pre-novitiate program. Even though that program had formerly been held at the Orange, NJ residence, in 2018 it was moved to Don Bosco Prep. And Kevin found himself back on our campus. “The year was incredible, the best year of my life so far,” he said. “At first it was weird because my only experience at Bosco was as a student. But besides our formation classes, which were wonderful all year, we were able to get involved in many different aspects of the school.” Kevin helped coach volleyball and was involved with many of the youth ministry activities. Volunteering with groups of freshmen students every Wednesday at the soup kitchen in Newark was “a grace”.
John spent the 2017-18 school year at Don Bosco as a teacher of Social Studies, but living with the Salesian community and discerning his calling to the Salesian priesthood. As he made his decision to continue in formation, he found himself remaining at Don Bosco Prep with Kevin as a pre-novice. John explains that the year at Don Bosco Prep as a pre-novice was one of the best for him, especially being able to work with young people. He was part of the DBP Choir and performed with the students at school masses and concerts. He could usually be found on the sidelines of sporting events and performing arts presentations. “Don Bosco Prep will always be a special place for me,” John said. “It was the first place where I started my journey as a Salesian. I am grateful to the students, the staff and the Salesians for always making me feel at home.”
Kevin and John took the next step into the novitiate program in the fall of 2019 in California. “One of the objectives as novices is to be intentionally withdrawn from ministry, to focus on the preparation of our vows and to start living them,” John said. “It was a time to continue to discern and learn more about the Salesian charism and Constitutions.” One of the lessons he learned was that “I am not just called to be at Don Bosco Prep, but to be a Salesian.”
“I appreciated the emphasis put on being conscious of your own spiritual growth, and I will cherish it for years to come,” Kevin said. “It was the first time I moved from this area, but it was for the best. I made great friendships. God worked and continues to work through the lessons He taught me. I’m really grateful for the year.”
John agrees that it may have been an adjustment being in California but there was a reason for it. “That’s life in any location, great moments and challenging moments,” John said. “The novitiate program is set up to challenge you, and that’s on purpose. The challenging moments are the ones when you see God the most. Those times give you a deeper appreciation for His love for us and His presence in our lives. Just like in life, God has to be at the center of everything in my vocation.”
Kevin and John will now spend the next two years in the Salesian Community in Orange, NJ and attend Seton Hall University. Kevin will finish his undergraduate degree by completing his studies in Catholic theology and philosophy. John will focus on his theology and philosophy studies, and will take French and music courses. They will help out with the parish religious education programs on the weekends.
When Kevin and John make their First Profession on Saturday, it will be the first time that they profess to give of their lives to the young, to live and work in the Salesian community with their brothers, and to be of service to the Salesian Society and to the Church. To allow themselves to fully live this vocation, they take the vows of obedience, poverty and chastity. They feel blessed to be joined by members of their families at the Mass of First Profession.
“The call of God was facilitated to me by so many people in my life,” said John. “I look at how many people have helped me respond to God in this way.”
Kevin expresses a deep gratitude to God and the Blessed Mother for this calling. “I feel so unworthy that God has called me to this life,” he said. I ask ‘Why me?’ It gives me such a sense of joy to respond to God’s will in my life, and I am so glad that the Blessed Mother is by my side.”