Annual Marist Family Picnic
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Mount St. Michael Academy

Please join us, one and all, for the annual gathering of our Marist Family - Brothers, former Brothers, spouses, and friends -- for a picnic in the garth at Mount St. Michael's in the Bronx. Plan to arrive at noon. To assure plenty of culinary choices for everyone, bring a main dish or dessert for yourselves with enough to share for two others. Rain - moving inside -- or shine!

Important Notice to Marists All Readers

We are closing in on the twenty-fifth year of Marists All. Our team of editors - David Kammer, Gus Nolan, Rich Foy, Vince Poisella, and Rob Schmid - has begun discussion about terminating our publication as we know it.

It is evident that those on our editorial team are aging to the point that the ambitious and very worthwhile venture begun years ago by David and Gus, and continued through Rich, Rob, and me, would someday soon come to an end. Rather than wait until the day when one of us can no longer assume the volunteer responsibilities we have performed in the past, we are considering that we be pro-active and plan the end as an evolutionary process rather than as an abrupt event.

Our MA team is taking steps to transition to an honorable end or to allow for a new form of Marists All to evolve with the assistance of new technology such as blogs, interactive web sites, or existing vehicles managed by the Marist Brothers themselves.

Following are some comments by our team members that will help our readers to understand our concerns and give the opportunity in the next issues for our readers to respond. VINCE POISELLA('58)

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From DAVID KAMMER ('42): Marists All was conceived twenty-five years ago this fall. It has been published quarterly for a total of 104 issues. I believe the newsletter has achieved its purpose of maintaining community among many of us who have had a Marist experience. It has been edifying to read how many have been engaged in loving, self-giving service that is characteristic of Marist spirit.

Admittedly, the newsletter is getting old as is the team of publishers and much of the readership. For some time we have been wondering if the newsletter would be viable much longer with the pertinence.and freshness it has had over the years.

For whatever it may be worth, I now share a study I made of the database, I have maintained over the years. Though it is not infallible, it may tell us something.

  • We have had contact with all of the Brothers in the American provinces through their communities. Many of the Brothers have encouraged us and even helped with expenses. There have been eighty-nine of the Brothers who have written for Marists All; thirty-two of those men are now deceased.
  • We have had a total of at least 588 other contacts involved in Marist life and mission. Many have expressed appreciation of the newsletter and of the memories stirred by people and events of their early lives.
  • About 342 of them have written for the newsletter; no small number has written repeatedly. Many of them have helped with expenses, most recently John Sugrue and Bill Deschene; no small number has contributed very generously. Needless to say, we have been pleased and grateful for the cooperation and generosity of all.
  • Of the 588 "other contacts," ninety-six are now deceased, and we have not been able to maintain contact with 102 of these readers. Fifteen have requested to be dropped from the mailing list.
  • According to my best estimate, we now have 378 active contacts, those receiving notices of new issues either through email or postal mail, not including a number of widows who are still involved. Though not an impeccable guide, if I base myself on the year of investiture, the "group year,"

... 7%) of the active contacts are in their 80s - those taking the habit in the 1940s;
... 43% are in their 70s -- those who took the habit in the 1950s;
. .. 47% are in their 60s -- those who took the habit in the 1960s;
... 3%) are of the 1970s and 1980s.

It seems that most of our active contacts may have written all they have to share. Perhaps it is time to come in for a landing with the quarterly publication of Marists All as we have known it. Perhaps the MA web site could remain online for some indefinite time. Perhaps the MA· email address book could be maintained and used for dissemination of pertinent news. What do you think?

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From ROB SCHMID ('68): It appears that Marists All is coming to an end. For twenty-five years a few dedicated men have performed a great service to the Marist Community by creating a publication that celebrates all that is Marist. By sharing memories of the Marist life that we once experienced, they brought some peace to many former brothers. Many of us left the brothers in tumultuous times. Tumult-­some call it growth-- is never easy. The passage of twenty or thirty years can ease much of the anxiety of those difficult times, and Marists All was a welcome friend to help us celebrate the good things that we experienced.

I left the brothers in 1971. It wasn't easy. I never thought that learning about poverty, chastity, and obedience would prepare me for marriage and children and career changes. The wives of other former Marists taught me a lot about what it is to be a Marist. They all agreed that Marist brothers were romantic and caring men who took good care of their wives and family. The Marist wives experienced the Marist life that we carried with us. Once when discussing money with another former brother, I expressed the opinion that fancy cars and toys held no attraction for me; his response was that I was a Marist.

The death in 2004 of a member of my profession group was the spark that brought me back into contact with the brothers. Mortality can be an eye opener. I have been very pleasantly surprised by the love, honesty, and acceptance that have been given to me by all of my contacts through Marists All. We owe a debt of gratitude to David Kammer, Vince Poisella, Richard Foy, and Gus Nolan for the many hours of work that they have invested in Marists All. I wonder if we will ever see men like them again. Tom Brokaw wrote about the Greatest Generation of World War Two fame. These men were part of the Marist Brothers Greatest Generation, and I want to thank them for all that they have done for us.

David Kammer has gathered statistics of the Marists All population, and the demographics do not look too promising for attracting new recruits to replace our aging leaders. Communication has changed greatly in twenty-five years. No one envisioned blogs or Twitter or Facebook back then. Which leads to a good rhetorical question: . even though we have better communication tools, do we actually communicate better?

I regret that I have not been able to contribute more for the Marists All cause. Being located in Chicago and still being employed has placed a limit on the time that I have available. Marists All has had a good, long ride. If it can continue in some new format, I would be happy to help. There are still many Marists All subscribers who are not computer literate; so, if we go completely electronic, we may lose them. I hope that over the next few months that we can find a way to keep Marists All alive in one form or another. Thanks for all that you have given me.

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From GUS NOLAN ('48): Rather than repeat the main points in the notes by my colleagues on our Marists All team, I want to concur with the points made, points that we have agreed upon in discussion ..

In brief, though, I believe that we must think positively about the shutting down over the next several issues of this publication as we know it. An aging editorial staff, decreased interest in submission of letters, and limited topics of material underlie our thinking. And yet we need to be grateful for our readers' interest in financially supporting Marists All. This support remains quite high. Perhaps our publication might continue in a new venue, perhaps as an addition to the provincial newsletter.

Br. Sean Sammon, who has a vision of the future for Marists in the United States, has expressed his hope that our publication not cease. Since there is a reading audience of over five hundred wherein is contained a very significant assembly of the Marist American Province, it is important that the contact with this group be maintained.

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Writers for this issue:

John Brady '57 describes the Marist Spirituality Weekend held July 8-10, 2011 at Marist College.

John Brady (again) '57 reminisces about the late Brother George Fontana, a member of his group, who spent over half his Marist life overseas.

Tom Brannigan, Dick Branigan's son, tells us of Dick's last days and how he kept in touch with so many of the MaristsAll readers.

Tom Crimmins '63 recalls some events in his own life heavily influenced by the late Brother Robert James.

Bill Deschene '53 goes where the Spirit pushes and adds accolades about the late Brother Declan Murray.

Bill Doherty '62 a Eucharistic minister at Elmhurst General Hospital describes his meeting with a very ill Charles Kennedy.

Rich Foy '46 notifies us of the news about Father Owen Lafferty, a former Marist Brother, who is retiring this summer. Father Lafferty participated in many MaristAll events.

Paul Galbraith traces his acting career to the skits put on at Camp Marist 1966-1969, directed by Brother Kenneth Marino.

Br Martin Healy '47 remembers fun details about his juniorate days in Esopus 1943-1946.

David Kammer '42 suggests possibilities for continuation of the MaristsAll newsletter in some form or another.

Gus Nolan '48 adds his two cents to David's suggestions.

Gus Nolan (again) '48 tells us what he remembers of the late John O'Shea (Br. Michael Ignatius) who died 20 July 2011.

Obituary notices for recently departed MaristsAll

John O'Connell '58 tells us who came and what happened this summer at meetings at Boothbay Harbor ME and Methuen MA.

Bill Reger '61, hadn't seen Oke O'Connell sine 1965 and was pleased to attend the meetings at Boothbay Harbor ME and Methuen MA.

Rob Schmid '59, the youngest editor and the most recent recruit explains why he got involved with MaristsAll.

Vince Poisella, Editor reminds us of the September meeting at Mount Saint Michael and introduces the discussion about the future of MaristsAll.


From JOHN O'CONNELL ('58): OB/bWATs (originally, and nonexclusively, the high school classes of '55 to '59 (habit-takers 1956 to 1961) held their Ninth Annual Gathering on August 13 at Ray Landry's pond-side home in Methuen, MA. Some had met just previously for the second annual "Pre-Gathering" festivities in Boothbay Harbor, ME, at the O'Connell residence. The pre-gatherers featured: George (and Leslie) Bagnell '58, from NY; George (and Janet) Conboy '58, from AZ; Ray Landry '56, MA; Artie Lavigne '55, NH; Pat (and Irene) Murphy '58, MD; Oke (and Sandy) O'Connell '58, ME; Bill (and Jan) Reger '61,WV; and Clare (twin sister of Bill Reffelt, '58 RIP, NY) and husband John Treder. Those folks joined, the "official" Ninth Annual Gatherers in Methuen, MA, on Saturday: August 13: Frank (and Pat) Backus '56, NY; John (and Joan) Brady '57, NJ: Br. Ernie Beland '58, MA; Al Doerr '56, MA; Moe (and Lucille) Lachance '59, NH; and Vin (and Jane) Poisella '58, NJ.

As for 2012, the Tenth Annual Gathering will take place on August 11 and/or 18 at Ray Landry's place in Methuen, MA. Those who have declined six or more times will be picked up by bus and kidnapped, if necessary. For example, Bill Maloney '57 has turned us down nine times so far. At this point, the pre-gathering, and possibly the post-gathering festivities, will take place in Boothbay Harbor, ME the week of August 12-17. Please contact Oke at to indicate preference of 11 or 18 of August and/or for further information. Please do as none of us knows just how many such possible "annual" options we have remaining. So, put August 2012 on your "bucket list," and let us know it's there!

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From BILL REGER ('61): Over the top, and then some! My lovely bride and I just returned from a weeklong pilgrimage to Maine and Massachusetts. We joined John "Oke" O'Connell and a raft of former brothers in and around Boothbay Harbor, ME, for some of the best scenery, seafood, and camaraderie in the USA. Although I had not seen Oke since 1965 when we canoed Lake George, he barely missed a beat in extending a Maine version of aloha. He and his wife Sandy could not have been more gracious hosts. They wined, dined, and toured us in a selfless manner.

Thereafter, we traveled to Methuen, MA, to the residence of cook/poet Ray Landry, who provided an idyllic lakeside setting and good food. The Marist Spirit was blatantly evident in Oke, George Bagnell, George Conboy, Artie Lavigne, Ray Landry, Pat Murphy, Frank Backus, Sr. Ernie Beland, John Brady, AI Doerr, Moe LaChance, and Vince Poisella.

Oke had been encouraging me for years to join in on the fun. I am glad that I finally did and am happy to report that my wife enjoyed the experience as much as I.

Wherever you are in your life journey, I encourage you ~ to join Oke and Ray Landry in August 2012 for another taste of the Marist Spirit. (304 Dream Catcher Circle, Morgantown WV 26508; 304-293- 0763;

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From JOHN BRADY ('57): The Marist Spirituality Weekend was held on July 8-10, 2011, at Marist College. It was a time for the participants - Brothers, former brothers, married, and single folks - to explore and renew their understanding of Marist Spirit. Bob and Ginny Grady did a wonderful job of planning and organizing the weekend. We had the pleasure of listening to a presentation and discussion by Br. Sean Sammon on 'The Vocation of Champagnat's Marist Laity" and to presentations on present day Marist apostolates by Sr. Philip Robert on directed retreats, Br. Leo Shea on his activities in Africa and in Texas, Craig Carbone from Marist High School in Bayonne, and Br. Steve Milan on the Marist Young Adult Program.
The participants traveled from Long Island, New Jersey, Manhattan, and the Poughkeepsie area. They shared; they discussed; they prayed. The atmosphere was comfortable, enriching, and mutually supportive.

We came away from the weekend feeling that we understood so much more of the Marist Spirit by what we had heard from the presenters and from each other.

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From BR. MARTIN HEALY ('47) (to Rich Foy): I read your article in Marists All with great interest. I remember some experiences while in Esopus from 1943 to 1945. As a freshman in Esopus I was present at the first birthday celebration. Years later at St. Ann's Academy Linus got several of us after evening prayer (during Great Silence) to go to Gerry Weiss's room to have a party. Linus said, "Just for my boys in Esopus."
I remember Jim Horan, the jester, acting as emcee. He was a very talented, funny person. I remember cooks, Sigibert Leo (Sarge's brother), Mike Shurkus, David, and also Raymond Albert's brother Marcel.
Art, Devlin's mother and my mom loved sitting in chairs facing the Hudson. They said they felt like wealthy people.
Edmund Alphonse was in charge of the auctions. John Paul Frank said to me that Kieran would "take care of any of you freshman wise guys." He smacked Fitzpatrick and shook us up. There were cookouts at the river. Frank Xavier told stories when it got dark. Linus was very good to us. Richard Alban was, our biology teacher. I remember your brother and Pete Stafford working with Mary Anthony and the dogs Mugsy and Browny.

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From PAUL GALBRAITH: I know some of the Marist Brothers and others within the Marist Community enjoy a night out at the theatre.

My first stage experience was with the talent shows run by Br.
Kenneth Marino at Camp Marist from 1966-1969, accompanied by my bud Bob Miressi at the piano!

At Archbishop Molloy HS, who would ever have thought that the guy sitting behind me in class, David Caruso, would become the fine actor that he did?

I went on to receive a BA in Fine Arts at St. Michael's College in Colchester VT, and after graduating, have done tours of Guys and Doll/s, Annie Get Your Gun, and South Pacific, to name a few. For television I was seen at times at the bar on Ryan's Hope, dressed in full doctor's attire drinking beer, most likely to do "brain surgery" after swigging down a few. Most recently, I have re-created the role of Sir Danvers Carew in the musical Jekyll and Hyde at the Forestburgh Playhouse in Forestburgh, NY, in July. (

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From BILL DOHERTY ('62): (to Dave Kammer): I am at Elmhurst General Hospital as a Eucharistic minister with Tom Murphy (Binsky), I recently entered a room to visit a patient. After some talking, I realized that he had been at St. Anne's, and he (Charlie Kennedy) would have graduated with me in '57, but he went to Esopus for his senior year. He is in very bad shape and expected to transfer to another hospital/rehab center. He spoke in a very low whisper and held my hand for about a half hour as he spoke lovingly about Lenny Voegtle at the juniorate and you as his Master of Novices at Tyngsboro. The Brothers have made a great impact on his life. Please remember him in your prayers.

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From RICH FOY ('46): This announcement came in the July 14, 2011, edition of Catholic New York. It was part of a listing of retirees. Owen graduated from Marist College in 1961.

Father Owen Lafferty '57 had served since 2004 as parochial vicar at Holy Innocents, Manhattan. Before that, he was parochial vicar of St. Joseph's, Greenwich Village, 1998-2004, and chaplain at Mount Sinai Medical Center, Manhattan, 1996-1998. He was pastor of Sacred Heart, Mount Vernon, 1984-1996, having previously served there for six months as administrator. He was parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Elmsford, 1972-1983, and St. Anthony of Padua, the Bronx, 1966-1967. He also served on the faculty of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School, Somers, and Cardinal Spellman High School, the Bronx. He was ordained in 1966.


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Let us remember in our prayers the recently deceased:
Br. George Fontana ('58)
Robert Gerard (Maurice Robert) Pinard ('40)
Br. Declan Murray ('51)

Br. Richard LaRose ('59)
Br. Robert James ('50)
Richard Branigan ('50)
John Michael O'Shea ('48)
Br. John Francis Colbert('44)

joe rothRev. Monsignor Joseph R. Roth ('56)
Pastor of St Andrew Catholic Church in Myrtle Beach, Chaplain of the South Carolina State Firemen's Association

Click on names in blue to move to a more extended obituary for that MaristsAll


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Late development. Newsletter #105 for August 2011 went to press too late to include anything about Brother John Francis Colbert, who died sometime during the first two weeks of August. A more detailed obituary will be posted to the web site in a few weeks and included in issue #106.

john francis colbertMeanwhile, I would like to share some of my fond memories of John with you. He was two years ahead of me, and among the first Juniors to adventure to the new Esopus Juniorate in August 1942. Brother Edmund Alphonse was the organist and choir director. The only others who could play the piano and/or organ were John Colbert and Stan Galligan. Brother Edmund was absent for Saint Patrick's Day of 1943, and John replaced him as organist. To our shock and delight, he played a couple of Irish tunes before and during Mass. I think he had Brother Master's OK, and we enjoyed it immensely.

When we taught at Saint Ann's Academy, we would sometimes slip out of an evening to a bar on Third Avenue, a street which was not so toney as today, with the 3rd Avenue El still running noisily. The bar had a piano and John would play for an hour or so. We would all pay for our first beer, and the owner would treat us to several others.

I divulge this without shame since I later learned that Saint Champagnat was almost kicked out of the seminary for slipping out with some of his comrades to a neighborhood wine bar. Little did I realize that I was following in Champagnat's footsteps!

John was a simple, loveable person who did not hesitate to tell us of his gaffs. Once he told us that he was in Macy's and asked the sales clerk directions to a special department. When she did not answer him, he discovered she was a mannequin...

May he rest in peace. He gave so much peace and contentment to his other Brothers. from Rich Foy

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From JOHN BRADY ('57): How sad to hear of the recent death of Br. George Fontana, a member of my group! The fact that George spent half of his apostolate outside of the United States -- in Switzerland, Japan, and in Manziana and Rome, Italy -- became even more apparent when his brother Rich approached us at George's viewing and asked if we would tell him about George's life in the Brothers since he missed so much of his brother's life experiences.

I had the thought of reaching out through Marists All so George's family could share in the wonderful life of this very good man. Prior to his time working abroad, George spent time as a teacher at Central Catholic in Lawrence; Marist High School in Chicago; Central Catholic in Wheeling; College Laval, Canada; and Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie. He was the Assistant Principal at St. Agnes High School in New York City from 1974-1977.

If you have memories of George that you would like to share, please send them to Marists All, and I will make sure his family receives your remembrances. I know they will be touched and pleased by your kindness .

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From BILL DESCHENE ('53): Adding "to the many tributes to Br. Declan Murray about this wise, gentle, and humorous man, I need to go where the Spirit pushes; hence, this small accolade to a great person and friend. "Dec" was one of those folks who made me feel at home. I know about that feeling by being brought up by very caring parents whose genes came from my grandparents who lived downstairs or nearby, shared by aunts and uncles who lived next door or across the street, and by a whole neighborhood watching over the kids who lived there. As a result of this, it became easy for me to spot safe or friendly territory. Dec was definitely safe, friendly territory.

One thing about being with people you feel at home with is that you'll do anything for them. If it's your grandmother asking you to get a loaf of bread for her, even in the middle of an episode of Sky King on the radio, you'll do it, and you'll even get back in time to find out where to write for that ring that glows in the dark. When Dec asked me to become the moderator of the freshman sodality or to cook for the retreats in Esopus, it was an honor.

When Dec visited us here in Grand Falls, he would bring us little trinkets that he thought we could use in a non-electric house in the woods: little battery-powered lights that we could put around the house to help with those bathroom trips at night. These are all in a box in the barn headed for the VFW rummage sale someday. Someone around here might benefit from what have now become third-class relics.

We will keep two gifts of his: a drawing of the blacksmith shop in Dover-Foxcroft -- #4 of 300 - by Mike Krammer, which fits the decor of our house, and a plaque of Notre Bonne Mere, which Dec gave us at our wedding. The artist, either a Marist Brother or someone commissioned by the Brothers, depicted Mary as a woman with very attractive thighs. I always smile when I look at it. Thanks, Dec. (184 Bryant Ridge Road, Grand Falls PIt., ME 04417)

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From TOM CRIMMINS ('63): I was saddened to hear about the recent death of Br. Robert James. He truly was a very special man and a master teacher. I entered the juniorate in 1959 when Br. Robert was our prefect as well as a multi-talented teacher. He taught us Latin in that first year, and each day was an adventure. He loved to give out typed notes. We could hear him pounding away on his typewriter every night after he put the lights out in that big dorm room.

When I was a senior, I decided to take a Spanish I class instead of math. I figured that it would be an easy class compared to the French classes I had struggled through the previous two years. It would be fun, and I enjoyed having Br. Robert as a teacher. We could just coast through the year learning a little Spanish. I should have known better. Around November he told us that we were doing so well that he would spend the post-Christmas months preparing us for the Spanish 2 Regents exam. The work started piling up. We were expected to memorize countless vocabulary words, and the tempo got faster. Soon after Christmas, Albany announced that there would no longer be language two Regents exams. "Good," we said. "We can slow down the pace and stick with Spanish 1 content." Nothing doing with Br. Robert! He decided to prepare us all for the Spanish 3 Regents exam in June. You can imagine the looks on our faces when he gave us that information. Three years of a foreign language in one year! It seemed like Spanish was the only subject we were taking the rest of that year. When June came and we sat down for that Regents exam, the entire class passed. He truly was an amazing teacher.

When I started teaching in 1967, I found myself using some of his mannerisms. Who could forget the arched eyebrow when we gave him a wrong answer? My students loved that one. I also followed his practice of handing out typed notes to avoid constantly writing on the blackboard. It always provided the opportunity to share ideas during class time.

I always remember how much he enjoyed teaching his students and how much we enjoyed being in his classroom. He had something new to share with us every day. He was a man who trained many of us for the field of education, and he did it with a humble approach and a joy of life. I met him some years ago and told him how much he had passed on to many of us. He was a shy man in so many ways, but I know that he appreciated the impact he had on his "juniors." A job well done!

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From TOM BRANIGAN: I am Richard Branigan's son, writing to you from his UW-Oshkosh, WI, email account. I am sad to let you know that dad passed away earlier today. He was diagnosed with cancer a year ago and was called to God at about 3 am.

I apologize for sending a mass email to all of you - it is such an impersonal way to, convey tragic news like this -- but I wanted you all to know.

Anyone who knew my father knew how much he cherished his friendships. He was engaged with people and with life more than anyone I have ever known. As I read down his list of email contacts, I smiled at a lot of familiar names -- people from literally all corners of his life. Although I haven't met some of you, I know he appreciated all of you and was thankful that your paths crossed with his.

I intend to keep dad's email account active for a little while yet and will check it regularly. My email is: You are welcome to contact me there as well. Thank you for being such an important and special part of my father's life.

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From GUS NOLAN ('48): John M. O'Shea (Sean) was a classmate of mine in Esopus in 1947, and we entered the Marist Brothers in July 1948. We were close friends through the training years and more particularly in our first years of teaching at St. Ann's Academy in 1952. We did all the things young monks did in those days: courses at St. John's, bingo tables on Wednesday night at St. Ann's, two-on­one basketball in the gym with Clem Martin as third member -- great fun, great years. Later, we taught together at the Esopus juniorate and novitiate. Then we went on and followed different paths in college education, he at NYU and I at Marist.

We had various contacts over the next forty years. Last December he organized a small group to begin a campaign for the Esopus Summer Camp. That is a work still in progress.

In July of this year, I learned that Sean was in Vassar Hospital where I serve as Eucharistic minister. His condition was serious. I visited him every other day, had some intimate talks with him - about Esopus days and on religious topics such as his conviction of the Real Presence in the Eucharist. In the second week he could not speak and then became very weak. All support systems were soon removed. Sean died in peace on July 20 in the presence of his wife and daughter and good friend Br. Phil Robert. I arrived just after his death.

Here are some words about Sean that appeared in the Mass booklet at the Mass of Resurrection celebrated on August 2 in St. Joseph's, New Paltz:

Sean was a kind and generous spirit 'and a man of many passions. He had a deep spiritual life that was present in all that he did. He was always willing to share a reading or a poem and in a quiet way helped many find newness, vitality, and sacredness in life. He was a good listener and enjoyed getting to know people, learning about their lives and thoughts and was generous in his encouragement of their hopes and dreams. He loved his family and was a great blessing to us. He was a loving friend and companion to his wife, Laraine, for over forty years and a gentle, playful, and devoted father to his daughter, Moira.

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