|Bro. John Kirrane, S.M.|
Marianist Brother who served as a teacher and administrator at Chaminade High School in Mineola and now works at Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale.
My love for the Church began to develop when I became an altar server at St. Agnes Cathedral (Rockville Centre) in 5th grade. The priests of the parish were men who I liked and respected very much. They taught me a great deal about faith and how to live as a young Catholic. I loved when they visited us in school to run programs or just to spend time with us. My years as an altar server became a springboard for my service in the Church.
In high school at Chaminade I began to meet and interact with many of the Marianist Brothers and priests. They introduced me to a wide array of service opportunities and prayer experiences, including retreats, Adoration, and even a pilgrimage to Rome for World Youth Day with Pope John Paul II. The idea of priesthood had often surfaced in the back of my mind but I was even more attracted to the Marianist life in community, ministry in schools, and consecration to Mary.
At first when my classmates began to ask if I was going to be a Brother or priest I didn’t know what to say. “No way!” was my answer at first and for many years actually. I went on to college at Fordham and continued to engage in my faith, attend daily Mass, and participate in retreats and campus ministry. After graduation I accepted a position teaching Scripture and working in the president’s office at Chaminade. Six years went by and I realized that I was indeed called to a religious vocation but that I had been fighting it for a long time. One of the things that has been difficult for me is that my parents do not support my decision to enter religious life, which has become a true cross and a test of my vocation.
It is often much easier to harden our heart than to let grace permeate it. Today’s culture and the people around us unfortunately allow for easy opportunities to shut God out, but I found that He doesn’t give up on us so easily! A religious vocation is not pop-culture, it is indeed counter-cultural, and its rewards are abundant. In my final years of discernment before I entered the Marianist formation program, I found it important to have a good sacred space in which to pray. Our Lady of the Snows (Floral Park) became that sanctuary for me. It was an easy walk from my apartment, the new church was beautiful, and the parishioners were prayerful and friendly. “Today, when you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts,”(Heb 3:15).