of fine young men as they encountered Jesus Christ, a profound experience that would shape their faith and futures for years to come.
While driving along Interstate I-95 one day years ago I remember noticing a road sign promoting the idea of being a teacher. The tag line on the billboard read: "Touch the future; become a teacher.” Looking back over my twenty-plus years at Salesianum School, I realize that that is precisely what I had been given the opportunity to do: to “touch the future.”
I had the opportunity to wear many hats during my tenure at Salesianum. I was the Senior Class college guidance counselor, a teacher of biology/psychology and later Senior Class religion teacher. One of the most powerful ways that I ‘touched the future’ at Salesianum was in my role as school chaplain: I established a retreat program called "Encounter" based on the Cursillo retreat movement. During those seven years I had the privilege of witnessing hundreds
In an age where there is such a debate about the teaching of values in schools and the lack of respect and learning in many of the nation's schools, the young men attending Salesianum School acquired a solid value system based on the teaching of Jesus Christ and St. Francis de Sales: respect for God, self and others – coupled with a tangible spirit of gratitude for one’s gifts, talents and abilities – permeated every aspect of the school’s environment.
As I walked through the halls of the school I realized that I was present to – and part of – a very unique community. To interact with these young men as a priest, teacher and a member of this ‘band of brothers’ was a special delight: every day that I prepared for school was a joy for me. Sure: some days were more challenging and stretching than others, but what I remember most was an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and joy.
In the twilight years of my tenure at Salesianum I had the privilege of also being the Senior Class moderator. Being responsible for senior class activities culminating with the prom and graduation enabled me to work with fine young men who were ready to leave the school and take their place in the larger arena of life. At the last graduation ceremony I attended before leaving Salesianum for a new ministerial assignment, I was awarded an honorary Salesianum School diploma: it is something that I cherish deeply even to this day.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with a graduate of the school who was a student during my days at Salesianum. He told me that if someone were to make a time machine, he would use it to go back in time to his four years at Salesianum. He said that he realized that what he experienced at Salesianum prepared him to become successful as a person and as a business professional. Without the structure and support he received during those years he would never have arrived to where he is today.
Yes, to be a teacher at Salesianum is to "touch the future" and I am grateful to God that I played a small part in the lives of so many adolescent boys who today are serving the larger human community as fine Salesian gentlemen.
(Rev.) William Gore, OSFS, is presently a member of the Oblate Mission Office staff located in Wilmington, Delaware.