Closing my bedroom door and walking down the cloister stairway towards the monastery chapel—I felt the grace of God in my heart contradicted by the tension in my human body. I had waited two years to experience God’s peace to end my old story as a monk.
Dozens of guests, seventeen teenagers from Venice, Italy and their chaperone Fr. Roberto waited in the chapel. Flushed with anxiety, I hoped everyone would notice my gray suit, in sharp contrast to the Carmelite habit I wore for thirty-six years. My soul and spirit rested within the inner sanctuary of God’s Presence, providing comfort despite the assumed rejection.
I stood before the pulpit, my knees shaking, while expressing my heart-felt intentions to continue my life of prayer and service as a secular man. Overwhelmed by applause and loving acceptance—words of self-acceptance and commitment to the Carmelite Way of Life flowed from my lips. Unsure of my future, I knew I had the support from friends and family.
Acts of Betrayal
Two years earlier in May of 2011, distinguished colleagues of the Carmelite Order requested me to a meeting in Rome. With fraternal affection and compassion, they recommended I end my old story as a monk to begin a new story as a secular man. I had endured a long history of unrelenting, systematic harassment, intimidation and threats by the Diocese of Worcester Massachusetts. My business acumen threatened the local bishop, who feared donations would be taken from the diocesan coffers.
Unlike a typical monk, I was developing a rehabilitation program for the local jail; working with alcoholics and addicts, teaching at university and holding a seat on the board of directors for an inner-city school. Further adding to the tumult, a spiteful confidant divulged to diocesan officials my hidden history of sexual abuse as a teenager and young adult at the hands of two clergymen of the diocese of Worcester.
A Secular Life
Although no longer wearing the traditional Carmelite habit, I maintained my life of prayer, meditation and work to support the mission of the Teresian Carmelites. Though not accepting a salary, I continued directing the businesses I cultivated for the monastery. I flourished with the new-found freedom from the radical judgment, ridicule, harassment and prejudice of the local Catholic church. Committed to my Carmelite Way of Life as a secular man, my heart and spirit compelled me to walk forward.
One year earlier, on a Friday in June 2012, after decades of experiencing daily shame and fear, I shared with a friend my history of sexual abuse, which began the summer of 1976. Weeping uncontrollably, I disclosed my story of how I was raped over nine-hundred times. As the tears ebbed, exhausted and relieved, I knew the secret no longer overshadowed my mind and heart. Unburdened and liberated, I no longer lived in fear of being discovered or blamed for the abuse. New-found peace and self-love flooded my being, ending the debilitating trauma caused by years of physical and emotional manipulation.
“From this day forward, I will be fearless to be me”
The following week, I turned on the television to Wayne Dyer interviewing Anita Moorjani. Anita tenderly shared her near death experience, laying in bed comatose, but able to hear her loved ones at her side. Simultaneously, she was at heaven’s door where her deceased father and friend told her it was not her time to die. Anita’s account of her near-death experience resonated with my personal account of God—filtered through my training in the Carmelite tradition of mysticism.
Compelled by conviction, I stood and declared, from this day forward, I will be fearless to be me, an exclamation dramatically and permanently altering my life. That singular moment set me on a humble and exhilarating path of self-discovery. The ensuing three years revealed continuous transformation of understanding and implementation within my life. Spiritual and metaphysical concepts validated the God of my understanding. My maturing relationship with God disabled the limitations of human rules and dictates. Objective love and objective truth paired with accountability and responsibility were the foundational pillars of my personal and business environments.
Guided by a Carmelite friar and a Trappist monk, I discerned my raison d’etre was to: be love, to love and to be loved. Motivated by a deep seeded pursuit to serve the poor, an inner voice compelled me to create revenue streams to end the perpetuation of poverty, crime and prejudice—one person at a time—through education. Some of those businesses include an anti-aging skin technology, subsequently stolen by L’Oréal, a windfarm and brewery.
Pop culture, fads and fashion were an enigma, while visits to any city were avoided at all costs except when love dictated otherwise. In the Summer of 2016 Fr. Roberto brought his nephew to visit from Venice. New York city was a favorite destination for Roberto, so I mustered courage and drove them south to Manhattan.
Immediately upon disembarking the tour boat at the Statue of Liberty, my heart was flooded with feelings of countless immigrants enduring great tragedy throughout their voyage to the United States. Seized by overwhelming sympathy, I forfeited the tour, sat in prayer and meditated until my guests completed the exhibition.
Off to Ellis Island, where I experienced more of the same painful emotions, I waited for Roberto in prayer and meditation, while he and his nephew completed the tour. Inevitably, our next destination to Ground Zero, the target of the September 11 terrorist attack, steamrolled my emotional state. Softly sobbing by a reflecting pool, I desperately needed to rest my heart, mind and spirit. Excusing myself, I returned to our hotel room quickly falling into a three-hour sleep. Upon waking, I headed across the street to a side-walk café for a beer, while enjoying the inner stillness against the backdrop of the city chaos.
Merely fifteen minutes lapsed when a yellow taxi drove up to the curb on the corner of 57th and 7th. Nonchalantly, a tall, dark and handsome man stepped out of the cab. Serendipitously, his eyes met mine and I smiled, responding to his confident gaze. Surprisingly, he walked over to my table and introduced himself as Steven Favreau. Shocked, yet intrigued by his casual and sincere demeanor, I invited him to join me for a beer. Immediately, the awkward moment led to a ten-hour conversation, revealing to my heart a knowing we would share a lifetime together. Behind Steven’s well-guarded persona, I witnessed a humble gentleman of integrity.
Our friendship quickly developed into harmonious exchanges, daily challenging each other’s perspective, while encouraging deeper spiritual and emotional growth and insight. Time passed quickly, in which we discovered our strengths and weaknesses complimented the other. New found vitality gave greater meaning to our mutual goal of making a difference in the world. My life of prayer and solitude was a stark departure from Steven’s celebrity and world travels, jolting the other. While our two worlds slowly merged, we often found ourselves in opposition. Unmistakably, my view of life came from a spiritual social-psychological perspective, while Steven was formed by his intellect and life experiences: an enigma of relationships, yet a perfect match.
The Favreaulous Factory
Relationship with God and service are Dennis’ motivational heartbeat. One day, Steven shared his dream of creating a sanctuary of beauty, where business friends would be inspired and nurtured by the confluence of ideas and sincerity of hearts. Unsurprisingly, Dennis recognized God’s spark nurturing Steven to create an inspirational environment we call the Favreaulous Factory. Merging Steven’s design aesthetic and Dennis’ spiritual purpose, the Favreaulous Factory has become the headquarters for Steven’s international interior design business, Favreau Design and Dennis’s non-profit company the Teresian Institute of Ethics.
Noted as a design oasis in-the-midst of Boston’s Innovation and Design District, the Favreaulous Factory is an 11,000-square foot industrial loft with 290-degree views of Boston and her harbor. Its design aesthetic is drawn from Steven’s design tenants that opposing objects often elevate the other and creating an unparalleled milieu. Furnishings within the Factory range from 1790 to 1970, including fine art, custom rugs and period chandeliers from Murano, Italy. A disco ball in perpetual motion, vintage pool table, conference room table—instantly converting into a ping pong table, and a state of the art golf simulator guarantee an atmosphere where work and play mingle.
Based on the universal principals of objective love and objective truth, Steven and Dennis surround themselves with good people; having good hearts; doing good work. Emphasizing the miracle of inspiration, Steven hired a graffiti artist to adorn their headquarters with street art. Inscribed on the floor and pillars are words of their motto: create not replicate, faith, dream, and hope—greeting visitors and staff.