Mauricio Siman and Charles Cassini posing for a picture together

In the four years they spent together (1957–1961) at Catholic University pursuing their undergraduate degrees, Mauricio J. Siman, B.Arch. 1961, (left) and Charles J. Cassini, B.A. 1961, (right) never personally met one another. It took six decades for that serendipitous encounter to happen — at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Kendall (Miami), Florida, in late 2021. At a weekday Mass, the battery of Charles’ motorcycle went dead. He asked some parishioners who were socializing if any would be kind enough to give him a ride to retrieve a charger at his townhouse development, which coincidentally is the same one where Mauricio lives. Mauricio quickly volunteered to drive Charles home. On the way, they compared the respective high points of their lives.

“Where did you go to college?” Mauricio asked.

“Washington, D.C.”  

A bit struck by the response, Mauricio followed by asking, “What school?”

“Catholic University,” Charles answered.

Mauricio was now really taken aback. “So did I. I graduated in 1961 — and you?” 

It was Charles’ turn for his jaw to drop. “Me too! Imagine that. We’re college classmates.”

Much had happened to them in the intervening 60 years. Mauricio returned home to El Salvador, opened an architectural and construction firm, and even added an interior decoration unit to his business. In 1980, in response to political events in his native country, he moved his family to South Florida, where he set about to reestablish himself in his business. Instrumental in the chartering of Global Bank, an FDIC-insured bank, he went on to earn a master’s degree in finance and banking. Still, he did not completely sever ties to Central America. Ever the entrepreneur, he opened Dunkin’ Donuts stores in El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua, and founded The Siman Corporate Group, which provides professional services in real estate and international trade.

As for Charles, after spending several years discerning a vocation with the Dominican Order, he returned to lay life and began a career in academia, teaching philosophy at Barry College (later University). He taught there from 1967 until his retirement in 2010, having acquired advanced degrees in education, philosophy, and practical theology throughout that span of years. He did not, however, forget his original interest in drama, occasionally teaching public speaking and acting, and being involved in plays on the university, community, and semi-professional level. He did voice-overs on nationally distributed training videos for Miami-Dade College, and in TV commercials. After retiring, he substituted and taught part-time at St. Andrew’s School and Palmer Trinity School, covering subjects such as philosophy, history, religion, and literature.

Both men married, raised families, and became grandfathers. They now cooperate as facilitators in programs at St. Catherine of Siena Church, and in outreach programs in the area.

— Charles Cassini