A day in the praying life of Brother Phil

by James Gillette, C.P.

Philip Maggiulli, who professed his religious vows as a Passionist Brother in 1953, rolls out of bed at 5:15 every morning at the Monastery of the Immaculate Conception in Jamaica, New York, and begins his day. His day is easy to follow because the regularity of his ordinary routine. One could very well conclude that there is nothing special about Brother Phil's day, nothing in it worth writing home about. But that's not so.

Brother PhilCharles Maggiulli, who would later in religious life take the name Philip, after St. Philip Neri, was born one of nine children. As a young man he went to school and became a barber; then he was drafted into the army; upon returning home he expected to marry and give his mother grandchildren. He laughs, as he recalls this, saying his mother ended up with 23 grandchildren without his help. God needed him more than his mother did.

As a young man Phil thought of himself as a Catholic but he didn't go to church much. He didn't think much about it until one Easter Sunday morning when he was in the army. He was asleep in his bunk when his bunkmate woke him up and chided him for not getting up for Easter Mass. He wouldn't let Phil off the hook until he got up, washed and accompanied him to Mass.

Phil says he'll never forget that particular Sunday: he heard a fine sermon on the Resurrection, was awestruck by his fellow-soldiers, the officers and nurses all going to communion, and the fact that he was only there because his bunkmate was so insistent. Phil says it was then and there that Jesus entered his life to give it direction.

A new direction

After the army, Phil talked about his life to Fr. Cosmas Shaughnessy, the director of the Passionist Retreat House in Jamaica, NY. Fr. Cosmas listened to Phil and observed how a religious calling was taking place in his life. When Phil came to the conclusion that he was called to be a Passionist Brother, the priest directed him to the Passionist Novitiate in Pittsburgh. There, Phil would grow into his new life as a vowed member of the Passionist Congregation. His life became a life of prayer, work and sacrifice, a combination that made him perfectly happy and ever so grateful to God.

Brother PhilWhat have almost 50 years as a religious brought Br. Phil? He'll tell you that it has brought him to another simple day when he rolls out of bed at 5:15 AM, kisses his crucifix and asks the Lord to be with him during the day. He attends Mass, says his rosary --- and prays for the work of his fellow Passionists who depend on his support.

He'll tell you too that his formal morning prayers continue throughout the day --- in the form of mopping floors, cleaning guest rooms and bathrooms, washing countless sheets, towels and pillow cases used by the community. He also cuts the hair of his Passionists brothers in the monastery, keeping alive the profession learned before he became a religious.

What does Phil have to show for it? An ever present smile of happiness and gratitude for the life God gives him. Phil's happiness is contagious. It's a beacon to those who come to the monastery burdened with so many problems. They're lifted up by his willingness to teach them to pray and to pray with them.

A day in the life of Brother Phil? A day of prayer, work and sacrifice. A day of joyfully and faithfully ministering to his Passionist brethren in community. A day of sharing his life with the needy and burdened, who come to know in Phil the comforting presence of Jesus who listens to them.

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