Mr. Vincent Gschlecht, Beloved Guidance Counselor, Appointed Director of Camp Marist

Mr. Vincent Gschlecht, Beloved Guidance Counselor, Appointed Director of Camp Marist

The halls were lined with students and teachers, staying mostly silent but with quiet anticipation for the surprise they had planned. And then it came: Mr. Vincent Gschlecht, beloved guidance counselor, walked out of the Marist library and straight into a scene of happiness and appreciation: the chorus of clapping hands, chants of “Mr. G!,” and cheers for the man who had mentored so many of them. Clearly both overwhelmed and overjoyed, Vinny walked through the crowd of his fans, where at the end of the hallway a cake and large sign saying “We’ll Miss You, Mr. G!” capped the send-off. It was his last official day before “retiring” to a new job as Director of Camp Marist. 

“I have been one lucky individual,” says Vinny, “The send-off was much appreciated.”

No one could be more deserving of such praise. Mr. Vincent Gschlecht (known more commonly as Mr. G to students and Vinny to fellow faculty) served as guidance counselor at St. Mary’s for more than 30 years.  During these years, he guided thousands of students in their academics and social lives as well as prepared them for life after high school. He began in 1984 and credits the many Marist Brothers at that time for welcoming him. “The counselor and person I have become is largely thanks to them,” he explains, “They by example showed me that making the kids most important was the Champagnat way.”

His colleagues can attest to Vinny’s commitment to St. Mary’s spiritual mission. Mr. Carlo Puca emphasized this: “[Vinny’s] passion and dedication to Catholic education resonated throughout campus…he has organized countless trips for Project Rebuild…and served as a leader in the many [Marist Youth] Encounters and Senior Farewell Retreats…we wish him nothing but love and happiness in retirement.” Mr. Michael Valente concurs: “The best experiences that St. Mary’s had to offer its students had something to do with Mr. G. He embodied and modeled selflessness and service for the greater good.”

The same faculty who are so touched by Vinny’s example are who he credits for his incredible career. “I have been fortunate to work with exceptional teachers and people. The magic that happened at St. Mary’s was thanks to all those dedicated teachers who went above and beyond in their generosity to our students…we impacted our students in the classroom and outside of it.  We provided a place where their faith was nurtured and they were challenged to see beyond themselves in generosity and action.”

Vinny is perhaps best known for his dedication to Freshman Camp, a week of faith, fellowship, and fun offered to incoming freshman each August at Camp Marist. Ms. Anne Tomlinson saw Vinny act at the forefront of this incredible experience: “My first introduction to Vinny was before I started teaching in the High School. I was asked to be in charge of a girls cabin for Freshman Camp…I was going to a new place with new people…once he said ‘hello’ and told me not to worry, it made all the fears subside. As soon as you are in his presence, you have a sense of calm, peace, and that no matter what lies ahead of you, it can be dealt with…he will be sorely missed.”

That sense of encouragement and dedication to helping people with transitions– be it from elementary to high school, high school to college, or beginning a teaching career– is at the center of who Vinny is. Mr. Robert Sventora, also a guidance counselor, praised his colleague, saying, “[He] has been my director, a mentor, and most importantly a friend to me during my past 15 years here. His passion for serving…with dignity and compassion is an image I will carry with me for the rest of my life.”

This impression has also made a lasting impact on St. Mary’s vibrant alumni family. TJ Hoban ‘11 says he met Mr. G at Freshman Camp and got to know him through several trips to Europe as well as Project Rebuild. “I took his advice to get involved and make high school count. He always looked out for me…if it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have gotten so involved in high school or gotten into 12 of the 15 colleges I applied to!” Vinny was there for TJ in a high-pressure moment, helping him decide which college to attend after a top choice offered him a last-minute acceptance. Vinny helped him decide, ultimately, to attend Providence College in Rhode Island. “It was a life changing decision,” TJ explained, adding, “Mr. made my high school experience, and I am forever grateful.” Megan Clemente (nee O’Neill) ‘14 said “Mr. G was the best!! I will always remember how much he helped me and all the great memories from Project Rebuild, Camp Marist, and the trips to Ireland and Spain.” John Brady ‘97 said that “Mr. G was a kind, compassionate, and caring educator…an asset to St. Mary’s.”

In December, Mr. Gschlecht was offered the position of Director of Camp Marist in New Hampshire and spent the last few months gradually transitioning to his new “retirement job” at the camp where he made so many freshmen feel welcomed by the St. Mary’s community. “When I think of St. Mary’s I will forever think of Vinny and what he stood for within this institution,” Mr. Sventora remarked, “Nobody bleeds blue more than Vinny.”