ISSUE # 75

February 2004

24 Brooklyn Mt Rd, Hopatcong, NJ 07843; 973-398-5477;
717 Washington Ave., Chappaqua, NY 10514; 914-238-8001;
4524 Andover Way, Naples, FL 34112;
476 La Playa, Edgewater, FL 32141;


Brother Paul Ambrose Fontaine

Br. Paul Ambrose, whose life and influence stretched over most of the twentieth century, died in Florida on December 27, at the age of 90.   Although the outside world will remember him as an influential and positive force in spreading Christ’s message and the Marist spirit wherever he went, for us in the Marist world he was, and will continue to be, a larger-than-life legend that grew, and will continue to grow.   A listing of his achievements here would minimize his overall achievement: his active and dedicated life as a Marist.  The New York Times categorized him as founding president of Marist College.  But he was much more than that.

Those who have access and time may wish to reread Br. Paul’s articles written for Marists All over the years. Visit our Marists All website, check the ”List of Writers” web page for the issue number containing his articles, and then the “Past Issues” segment of Marists All web site for the articles themselves.  You may refer to the eulogy web page and the obituary web page for more complete information on Br. Paul.  Reflections from College President Dennis J. Murray and the eulogy delivered by Br. Joseph Belanger appear there.   Herein, however, we will merely cite excerpts.  (Editor)

From BR. BEN CONSIGLI (’87):  During Br. Paul Ambrose’s wake and funeral Mass,  many mourners recalled, in a very real way, how one man was able to accomplish so much during a lifetime.  It was fitting that Paul’s “final journey” took place at the college he loved so much.   People from New England, Texas, Washington, D.C., New Jersey, and New York came to pay their respects.  Other mourners, originally from Italy, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and India, recalled the man who meant so much to them.  He was “brother,” “uncle,” “friend,” “educator,” “mentor,” and “benefactor.”  I myself did not really know Paul well.  When I entered the novitiate, Paul was heading, at age 74, to Liberia to work with the bishop of Cape Palmas.  His willingness to assist in the establishment of a new Marist presence in western Africa says volumes of the man Paul was.  His wake and funeral Mass truly reflected Paul – it was a simple and dignified service.  I think Paul would want to be remembered best as a Marist Brother … simple in his faith, hard working in his responsibilities, and clear in his vision.  (153 Avenue C; Bayonne, NJ 07002; 201-823-2994;                                                                                                           

From DENNIS J. MURRAY:  In 1989 while serving in Liberia, Br. Paul contracted malaria.  I asked him to return to Marist to recuperate and make the Kieran Gate House his retirement home.  He returned to the College, but he never retired.  He continued to be a strong presence on campus and around the world until moving to Florida in 2001.  He once told a reporter, “My philosophy is, ‘you rest, you rust.’  Look at a plow.  If it’s being used every day, it’s nice and shiny.  If it sits idle for any length of time, it gathers rust.  People are the same way.”

 In his latter years, Br. Paul often told me his final wish was to be buried from this chapel.  He felt this way because the campus was his home and the Marist Brothers were his extended family.  There could be no more appropriate place to celebrate Br. Paul’s life because he was inextricably linked to this site overlooking the Hudson.

 From BR. JOSEPH BELANGER(’43):At the Commencement in 1990 Br. Paul had just returned to the campus from Africa to recuperate from a bout of malaria and the disorientation often associated with this disease.  The Commencement ceremony began on the campus green behind the Lowell Thomas Communications Center, but Br. Paul was nowhere to be found.  Part way through the Commencement speaker’s address, the infrequently used back doors of the Lowell Thomas building flung open.  There stood Br. Paul in his majestic white cassock, his gold cross gleaming in the sun, staring at the 8,000 guests.  The ceremony stopped as Br. Paul made his way to the Commencement platform.  One of the graduates asked a classmate sitting next to him, “Is that the Pope?” – and he responded, “No, stupid, that’s Marcellin Champagnat; he has returned home.” Br. Paul was always a mighty presence on this campus. (Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601; 845-575-3040;

Sharing the Joy: 2004 Marist Jubilarians

Senior Jubilarians:  70th, Br. Philip McEnaney; 65th, Br. Conan Vincent Dineen, Br. Joseph Teston; 60th, Br. John Francis Colbert, Br. Alphonse Louis Dubois, Br. Edward Francis Vollmer; 55th, Br. James Gaffney, Br. James Kearney, Br. Thomas Lee, Br. Bernard Nolan, Br. Francis Ryan, Br. Francis Thomas; 50th, Br. Paul Bernard, Br. Charles Marcellin, Br. Joseph Maura, Br. Richard Shea, Br. Hugh Turley

 Junior Jubilarians: 45th, Br. John Bantz, Br. Gerard Brereton, Br. John Cherry, B. Robert Conley, Br. Ronald David, Br. Joseph DiBenedetto, Br. Francis Garza, Br. John Herrmann, Br. Richard Larose, Br. Benedict LoBalbo, Br. John McDonagh, Br. John McDonnell, Br. Raoul Molnar, Br. Michael Mullin, Br. John Nash, Br. Donald Nugent, Br. Edmund Sheehan, Br. James Stevens, Br. Michael Williams; 40th, Br. Timothy Brady, Br. Kevin Brogan, Br. Emil Denworth, Br. Michael Fisher, Br. Denis Hever, Br. Kenneth Hogan, Br. James Norton, Br. Thomas Petitte, Br. Frederick Sambor, Br. Henry Sawicki, Br. Joseph Scanlon; 30th, Br. Louis Bentivegna, Br. George Dicarluccio, Br. John Healy, Br. Armand Lamagna, Br. Lawrence Lavallee, Br. Michael Sheerin                                                                                             

Mark Your Calendar

April 9:  John O’Connell ( is again planning a gathering of the class of ’58 and is seeking those who participated in those early training years together – groups preceding and following – to join him at Esopus on Good Friday.  Contact him for details.

 April 15-18:  “Making the Whole World Marist” is the theme of the 2004 National Conference of Lay Marists.  It will be held at the Quincy Marriott Hotel in Boston.  During this weekend celebration of Marist spirituality, Marist Laity, Priests, Sisters, and Brothers from all over the country will join together for joyful liturgy, inspirational talks, entertainment, and fellowship.  Contact Gene Zirkel at 472 Village Oaks Lane, Babylon Village, NY 11702 ( or call 508-879-7223, ext.10.

 April 18:  The Sisters of St. Francis Hospital are honoring the Brothers and former Brothers of Marist College on the occasion of the hospital’s 90th anniversary at their annual Franciscan dinner on April 18 for nearly one hundred years of cooperation between the two institutions.  Br. Joseph Belanger ( is seeking ASAP all the various stories our readers may want to share about the hospital and Marist:  blood bank, teaching the nurses, first aid courses and certificates, Theater Guild, for example.  Besides being useful for the occasion, the stories would also be valuable for the Marist College and hospital archives.

 July 9,10,11:  The Tenth Marist Family Weekend will be held at Marist College for interested Marist Brothers, former Marists, spouses, widows, and friends of the Marist Family.  This year the weekend program, “Rekindling Marist Spirituality,” will be held partly in conjunction with the annual retreat of the U.S. province of the Marist Brothers at the College.  You are invited to join us for guest presentations, liturgy, and a reunion of old friends and colleagues. Br. Sean Sammon, Superior General, and Br. John Klein, Provincial, have been invited to address the participants. If interested, send by June 15th a deposit of $25 to Br. Charles Marcellin (83-53 Manton St., Briarwood, NY 11435) with commitment to attend.  Total cost of the weekend per person is $200 (per couple, $275).  Pro-rated adjustments will be made.  Details to come. Any questions, contact Vince Poisella at:

 From BILL DESCHENE ’53:  Life had gotten too tame for us on the edge of the Great Forest in Burlington, so we moved seven miles into the Great Forest and three miles from the nearest utility pole to the unorganized (I love it!) territory of Grand Falls Plantation.  The Marist relics that we brought with us include two of Br. Peter Anthony’s desks which I took from Central, a sweater knit from Br. Philip John which I still wear, the descendants of some of Br. Mickey’s mint plants, a very sensuous plaque of Notre Bonne Mere given to us by Br. Declan, and an old representation of Marcellin Champagnat. (184 Bryant Ridge Rd, Grand Falls Plantation, ME 04417)

 From BR. LEO SHEA (’52):  God’s blessings for the New Year to all of you from the seven of us at the Marist Brothers’ residence in Brownsville, Texas:  Paul Phillipp, Tom Lee, Frank Garza, Joe Scanlan, Frank Klug, Sumner Herrick, and Leo Shea.  Our community sends you greetings from our current residence in Brownsville –“on the border by the sea.”  We are moving twelve miles north of Brownsville to our newly renovated eight-bedroom ranch-style house on six acres of property.  The location won’t be as convenient to our work as at our former residence at St. Joseph Drive, but we are looking forward to a comfortable home in a peaceful setting.   The administration and Board of St. Joseph Academy had asked us Brothers to move so that a new middle school could be built where our old house sat.  The new school building will have room for the three hundred students already enrolled in our seventh and eighth grade classes.  Moving these youngsters away from the high school campus will give more room for the students in grades nine through twelve.  With the added space, the school expects the high school enrollment to increase from five hundred to eight hundred students.  Come and visit us.  Depending on the weather, you can sit by the pool or on the porch or by the fireplace. Or you might want to try a spin on our lawn mower. (3101T RR2,Henderson Rd, Los Fresnos, Texas 78566;

 From DAVID HEALY (’64):  (Thanks for forwarding the last newsletter to me here in Perth. Mom reckoned that I’d want anything with the name “Marist” attached.  How right she was!)  I  had worked in New York City from late 1999 until May of 2003.   My wife Kay and I celebrated our twenty-eight years together last October.  She stayed in Australia while I worked in New York.  The last time she came to visit me there was December 2002.  It was a Sunday morning, and driving down the Jersey Turnpike toward Newark Airport, I saw the big old Malaysian 777 coming in for a landing, and I started beeping the horn!  That was when it became obvious to me that the time had come for me to return home to Perth!  Since I’ve returned to Australia, I have been working as IT Manager at Mater Dei College, a Catholic HS of 900+ students about a 10-15 minute drive from home.

 Denis Hever has been in touch, asking for prayers regarding his brain tumor.  We have been friends since freshman year at Molloy back in ’59.  Den’s letter is on the bedroom door now where Kay and I can both see it and be constantly reminded to keep him in our thoughts and prayers. 

 I have many fond memories of Steve Minogue.  He was a real “wears his heart on his sleeve” kind of guy.  Steve and the other wonderful men who made Esopus such a fantastic place in the early to mid-sixties are never far from my mind.  I was also saddened to hear of Izzy Sabeta’s death.  I well remember the night a couple of us persuaded him to don a black raincoat, monster hands, and a gorilla mask.  We then put him into the phone box in the old student Brothers’ house in Poughkeepsie and told Tony Uanino he had a phone call!  Poor Tony never made a sound, just sank slowly to his knees! (48 Adare Way, Kingsley, Australia, WA-6026; 61-8-9409-9979;

 From RONALD (REGGIE) DISS (’60):  This past August, while visiting Rome, my daughter, son-in-law and I visited the Marist Generalate.  Gerry Brereton was most gracious and hospitable.  We had dinner with the monks and got the grand tour.  In the summer of 2002 we visited the Hermitage where we were warmly received by several monks - most notably, by Br. Gabriel who gave us an extended tour and a comprehensive lesson on the life of St. Champagnat by commenting on each of the twenty-eight stained glass panels in the chapel.  Memories of my friend Br. Edmund Jude teaching the “Life of the Founder” class during my novitiate days came sharply into focus.  It was a wonderful day.  Lily and Chris later commented on how meaningful the visit was and how it gave them a greater appreciation of things Marist and a better understanding of me and who I am.  That was great to hear!

 Recalling Edmund Jude, it occurs to me that people frequently associate me with him.  That’s strange, because I spent most of my novitiate days – and even later when he was my boss at CCHS in Lawrence – trying to avoid him!  I think he took me on as a mission, someone who needed his watchful (lurking?) eye to stay on the straight and narrow.  He was always on my back!  But I have to admit that I “pushed his buttons.”   I remember telling him once that he needed to listen more closely during the monthly reading of the founder’s Last Will and Testament because it was written that we should love one another, and that it indicated nothing about being a “snoopervisor”!  Then I remember getting that “Jude-look,” which lasted longer than usual!  Jude wrote to me over the years and always signed his letters as “your loving, favorite snoopervisor.”   When I got married, he sent a sympathy card to Mary.  Looking back, I know he had my best interests at heart.   He did a lot for me, and I’m glad he did.  I think of him often.

As for me, I continue teaching child development, special education, and reading courses to teacher preparation students at Emory and Henry College.  I see Richard Couto on occasion when I’m in Richmond, and last summer I touched base with Dave Cooney, Rene Roy, and John McDonagh during several trips to Wheeling.  We always end up talking about our days in the novitiate, recalling with fondness the great men we knew there and how they influenced our lives.  On two occasions a group of B/brothers and spouses gathered at our home here in Rural Retreat to celebrate July 4th:  Dick Couto, John “Cookie” Maher, John Reynolds, Phil Hannigan, Pat Gallagher and their wives, and Rene Roy.  On these occasions topics of conversation generally included Edmund Jude, David, Joseph William, Frederick Charles, George Robert, Louis Viateur, Leo, Peter, and of course, Blackie.  (511 North Main Street, Rural Retreat, VA 24368; 540-680-5539;

 Kudos! Doing good quietly does not necessarily mean placing one’s achievements under the bushel basket.  Take a look at the U.S. News & World Report for January 5, 2004, page 76.  The full-page article titled “A Market for Wellness” highlights BILL REGER    (’61), Health Advocate!  Bill has achieved national attention, not as exercise physiologist and professor at West Virginia University, but as a marketing expert in developing a model public-health media campaign.  For your own health, check it out! (Editor)

From ART (BR. FRANCIS JEROME) DEVLIN (’45): After forty-six years of    silence, I feel apologetic to those dear friends who would have liked to continue a warm friendship over the years.   Well, here’s some of the story!  I left the Congregation in 1958 after ten years of wonderful teaching: four at Cardinal Hayes, four at Central Catholic in Wheeling, and finally, two more back at Hayes.  These were some of the best years of my life; and I will never forget them, nor the Brothers with whom I lived and taught and from whom I learned so much. 

 With degrees in mathematics I gravitated toward the field of computer technology.  I joined a contractor company in November 1958, working to automate the air traffic control system for the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA).  I developed software while working in Mount Kisco, not far from the College.  It was there that I met my future wife Helen.  In ’60, I joined the Socony Mobil Computing Laboratory in New York City.  In that position I found the mathematics more challenging and the software training and development invaluable.  In April ’61 I joined the FAA and moved to an experimental testing facility near Atlantic City, NJ.  That was the start of my thirty-year government career.  In 1964 I relocated to the Washington, DC, headquarters of the FAA.  By the end of my government career, I had worked for the FAA, the U.S. Marine Corps as a civilian, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  After “retiring,” I did a little consulting with small firms working with the government.  Computer technology is an incredibly interesting and evolving field renewing itself every few years. 

 On the family side, Helen and I married in 1961 in White Plains.  Helen, who has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, was into computer programming and systems analysis before I was.   We are so similar in background, religion, social class, education, and career paths!  We had five daughters and one son.  Unfortunately, we lost our son and one daughter at birth but have two great intercessors in heaven.  Three of our daughters have married and have given us seven grandchildren, an eighth being due in April.

 During all these years, the influence of the Marist Brothers, devotion to our Lady, and lingering fond memories of so many of the monks and former monks have remained strong with me.  I am so happy to be reunited with Marists All after so long.  In addition, I have been relatively active at church:  Eucharistic minister at Fairfax Hospital for some twenty-five years, local parish committee work, and as a ten-year member of the board of governors of Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School in northern Virginia.  We spend the winter months in our condominium in Deerfield Beach, Florida.  I cherish all things Marist and would love to relive the past in e-mail or snail mail with any of the Marists All readers.  The ’45 group are mostly saints now.  The rest of us will have to try harder.  Let me hear from you.  (4501 Rachael Manor Drive, Fairfax, VA 22032-3629; 703-764-3799; winter, to 3/15: Ocean Harbor Condominium 800 SE 20th Ave. Apt 404; Deerfield Beach, FL 33441-5143; 954-481-8479;

From BILL BYRNE (’52): In scrolling through the obituaries at the Marists All web  site, I looked in vain for a few of the Brothers with whom I shared community life. I have found that reminiscence is a place where I spend some spare time as I get on in years.  I would like to share some of those reminiscences.

 My shock after graduating from the then Marian College in ’56 came in the form of a year’s assignment to the print shop at the college.  The print shop occupied a corner of the old gymnasium adjacent to the laundry.  In a weird congruity, Raphael Martin and I grew up on the same Manhattan block, entered the congregation together, and shared the same appointment fate that summer:  he in the laundry and I in the print shop.  Harry Henke and Jim O’Brien, appointed chefs, rounded out the “left behinds” from our graduating class.  Humble, thoughtful and diehard Boston Red Sox fan Br. Louis Richard, tailor extraordinaire, joined us as one of the five young monks assigned to those various manual tasks.  I believe, at least in my case, that Br. Paul Ambrose felt that a little more seasoning was needed before traveling beyond the walls.

 I found myself working in an unfamiliar setting, one for which I was almost totally unprepared.   To make matters worse, Br. Tarcisius (Tarcy) had set his sights on someone else as his assistant but was instead saddled with me.  He was resigned but pretty vocal about his disappointment. Gradually, though, I think Tarcy came to appreciate my good will, if not my ability, to master the printing trade. For a little man of scarcely five feet, he certainly could get your attention.  I used to bristle at his retelling of my latest printing gaffe at the community dinner table.  Later, I came to understand that as a working monk, he had little in common with the Brothers who were educators and that this was his way of sharing the things in his life with them.  Those failings on my part came as close to juicy tidbits as he could muster.  But even though he didn’t hide the fact that Br. Robert Ryan was his most talented printer’s apprentice, Tarcy eventually came to hold a warm place in his big heart for me and my sheer determination.

 From inside the college, there were ongoing printing demands that Tarcy met with good grace and great efficiency.  He spent a good deal of time producing the warp and woof of college materials:  catalogs, announcements, letterheads, and the Province’s notifications.  Br. Cyril Richard’s Marist Monthly took up a large part of his time and certainly was the legacy of their combined devotion to the Blessed Mother.  I never knew him to miss a deadline in anything he was asked to do, which sometimes meant long hours in front of what I always considered a temperamental hot lead linotype. 

 All in all, Tarcy’s life was one spent out of the limelight, away from the camera -- nonexistent in the very publications he was responsible for publishing.  He entered the Brothers in 1925, served with little heralded distinction for fifty-eight years and died March 10, 1983.  He taught me much about the printing trade and much more about humble service.  Rest in peace, boss! (154 West Church St., Clarkston, MI 48346; 248-625-6555)

From GEORGE CONBOY (’58): After twenty-seven years in Tucson, I am going up the road about 130 miles just northwest of Phoenix.  This will put me close to a daughter in Goodyear and a son in Avondale and only 150 miles from a son in Flagstaff.  I have recently retired from nineteen years of hospice work, but I am very bored, so I will probably go back to it after I move. 

 I have enjoyed seeing Rich Foy’s beautiful collection of Esopus photos (  I started as a sophomore in Esopus in 1954.   I visit there every chance I get.  One of my best friends, Br. Philip Gilmary (Alfred LaCroix) is buried in the first corner grave as you walk from the main house.  Al was a classmate loved by all his Brothers.  I love to walk up and down the rows of the cemetery remembering those who made my life happy for twelve years.  I will never forget any of them.  When I arrived at the juniorate, there were only two graves in the far corner.  It amazes me that I knew most of the Brothers who are buried there.  (

 From JOHN O’CONNELL (’58):  A few words on Bill Reffelt.  Bill had left us while at  the College, in June of ’60, end of our first year there, driven home by Br. Joe Damian, his former Master of Juniors. Bill was a teacher all the way, starting in a parochial school after graduating from St. Michael’s in Vermont.  He moved on to public high school teaching and retired after thirty years.  He often talked of the satisfaction he got from making a difference with the kids, the students he had taught.   Bill also taught at the community college for a few years after he “retired.”

 His wife Elaine was an exceptional partner, especially through that last year before he succumbed to cancer.   She put up with the re-entry into his life of his former b/Brothers because of the joy he had in seeing us all again and reminiscing.  We had some great moments with him I wouldn’t have traded for the world and am so grateful to Elaine for sharing him with us, all on his good days, those Fridays right after his chemo, days when he was the strongest.

 Vin Poisella, Bill Shannon and I were at the wake.  While there I also met Paul Stengel, “Binsky” and Jack Meehan.  The funeral service the next day was great, especially with  Jack Meehan resplendent in kilt and bagpipes.  Bill’s daughter, Krissy, fell on the altar steps after the reading, which she had struggled through, landing squarely on her behind.  We all took that as a sign from Bill that things were all right and that we were just taking this all too seriously.  Krissy got back to the pew, crying and laughing at the same time.  Son Jimmy made his Mom and Dad proud with a terrific eulogy, with humor:  Jimmy said he had asked Bill one day working in the yard why he had left the Brothers, expecting a long and involved explanation.  Bill responded profoundly:  “I got bored!”  (15 High Street, Boothbay Harbor, ME 04538;

From Brother James Kearney  I write to the many readers of Marists All to inform them of the death of Jack Craven (formerly Brother Timothy Joseph) on January 30, 2004. Jack had a major stroke at work about two weeks previous to that. He was 75 years old.

For the past few years Jack had been serving at the request of the Bishop of the Diocese of Boise as full time Director of Education Ministries supervising a staff of nine people who coordinate adult education, youth ministry, child and family education and school programs

After Jack withdrew from the Marist Brothers he worked for twenty-five years with the Boise (Idaho) public school system as a teacher, counselor, vice-principal, principal and director of curriculum/instruction. Right after his retirement he worked as assistant principal for curriculum and staff development at Bishop Kelly High School, the diocese's sole Catholic secondary school. He continued at this work until beginning his work as Director of Educational Ministries.

Jack and I corresponded and talked a few times every year. I was always struck by two things: his keen interest in all things Marist and something I have always known about him, the great dedication and love he gave to whatever he put his hand, whether it was family or work.

Jack is survived by his wife, Joan (3202 Wagon Wheel Road, Boise, Idaho 83702) and five step- children.

Jack's last correspondence with me (December 14, 2003) included a photo of Joan, Jack himself, and Max, his youngest step-child who has Down Syndrome. They were in Dublin, Ireland last summer for the Special Olympics at which Max won a silver medal for swimming.

I will close by taking a few paragraphs from Jack's December 2003 letter. (Joan gave me permission to quote from it.) His thoughts, I believe, speak well of his (and our) Marist roots.

"As for myself, I am mid-way through my 75th year and, all things being considered, am still able to function animated by the "love of work" ethic that was instilled in us by Brother Henry Charles, Brother Paul Ambrose and other fine men.

"During the twenty-five years I spent with the public schools I had numerous roles to play and many occasions to enter the district's schools in order to deal with issues. You have no idea how often I used our Marist schools and our monks as the standard in making comparisons and ultimate judgments. We both know that our schools were not always perfect but, even in those instances, I would submit that they were darn good!.

"Later, when I retired from the public sector and was asked to join the staff at Bishop Kelly High School as assistant principal for curriculum and staff development, I made the same comparisons. Always, always, I came to the same conclusion; namely, no one can run schools like our monks!!.

"All my professional values have their roots in my experiences as a Marist - for this I will always be grateful. I did not start this letter with the intent to write the foregoing. just seemed timely to do so. Over time, I have come to believe that the Spirit of Champagnat lives on in many of us that chose to walk another road. I will carry that belief to my grave."

 N.B. May 1st is our deadline for contributions to appear in the next issue. (Editor)

Marist College Heritage Professors began service before 1970 and spent 25+ years teaching at Marist. They were honored at a special luncheon at the beginning of Alumni Weekend, October 2004
  Click on photos to see enlargement.