Faculty Feature – Mission and Ministry – Mr. Dominic Gentile & Mr. Dylan Gavin

Mr. Dylan Gavin (left) and Mr. Dominic Gentile (right)

Devon Prep had kept Service and Ministry as two separate entities at the school for many years. For Service, the boys each year need to gain 15 hours of service in Middle School and 25 hours of service in High School. It is a chance for them to help others who might be less fortunate than they are and gives them lifelong experience in many different fields. Ministry is the foundation of Devon Prep. Students are encouraged to participate in prayer, outreach programs, retreat experiences and grow within their faith.

The two programs never crossed paths until Dominic Gentile and Dylan Gavin approached the Administration with an idea to combine the programs and create “Mission and Ministry”. Dominic was handling Ministry, which included managing all of the retreat programs for students in the middle school, 9th, 10th, 11th, and Kairos for 12th grade, the most involved retreat geared toward deepening one’s faith identity and relationships. Dylan was responsible for the Service program. He organized many trips for the students including handing out coats to the homeless in Philadelphia, working at food drives, and summer projects for Habitat for Humanity.

Their combined goal of Mission and Ministry is to make the Devon student aware of their Catholic identity and help them grow in their faith by providing opportunities in our community locally, domestically, and abroad.  Through the connections made within Mission and Ministry, we provide the tools to grow in the Piarist values of charity, humility, patience, respect, and simplicity.  

Students on a service trip in West Virginia over the Summer, in coordination with Habitat for Humanity building affordable housing for those living in poverty.

Below is an interview with both Mr. Dominic Gentile and Mr. Dylan Gavin going more into detail about their experiences with the combination of Mission and Ministry.

DD: When you approached the Administration with the idea to combine Mission and Ministry how was their response? How has the response been from families and students?

Dominic: The Administration was extremely supportive of the transition into one department. We have had really excellent responses from everyone so far! The blending of these two facets made so much and it helped us find a way to further the mission of Devon.

Dylan:  The response was great, we presented the idea and were basically given the freedom to collaborate with one another to create something that worked best for our students and our school.  We were able to create a document outlining all of our goals for the program both in the near and far future. The school has been absolutely great in supporting this endeavor.

DD: What has been the most rewarding part of the program change for you as the leaders, and for the students?

Dominic:
I really enjoy the surprise of students when they enjoy a service project or connect with someone they didn’t expect. To me, that is one of the biggest parts of the mission of what we do. We hope to facilitate ways for students to recognize the good and dignity of every person by walking with them and relating to them. Our goal as Christian Catholics is to be Christ to others, and it is in these trips that the boys have the opportunity to do and to find Christ in others as well.  I think the students find helping and serving rewarding (even when it is tough) and I find the reward in being able to help make that happen in some small way. 

Dylan:  Having a why to the reason that we do service.  A lot of people ask the question of why service and I feel like tying service with ministry helps give a better understanding of why and what service is.  Being able to see the students relate these two important values and intertwine them with our Catholic values and teaching.

DD: How do the Piarist values get tied into Mission and Ministry?

Dominic: Many times our work can be very humbling, having to get down and get out of our comfort zone causes us to be vulnerable reminds us that, outside of our own worldview, we have a lot to learn. This ties nicely into patience because it is hard to learn how to be ok with being uncomfortable or challenge, and sometimes it really pushes the boys. But, at the end of the day, they are able to see their own strength and gifts. Finally, we don’t always seek to do big, spectacular service events. Some of the most fruitful ones are the simple ones, donating clothes to people who are homeless, spending time at a food pantry. It is in those simple acts of service that I have seen the most change happen. 

Dylan: Charity – Big one for service, providing our students the opportunity to go out and serve others. Respect – We have an opportunity to see all walks of life, situations, etc.  It is important for us to allow our students these opportunities and be able to gain respect and understanding for those in other walks of life.


DD: What do you see in the future for the Mission and Ministry program?

Dominic:
I hope that we continue to foster a sense of ownership and love of service. I also see us focusing more on the spiritual side of serving through retreats and reflection, and really tying our whole department together so that our students can truly become men who truly live out the mission of our school and our Church.

Dylan: The hope is to keep growing.  I would love to see more and more opportunities being offered, more summer trips, and overall greater involvement from the entire school community.

Students volunteering at a local food bank during the school year.