ISSUE # 90
Greg Ballerino r.i.p.
From JOE BOUCHARD (’63): I have been meaning to write for Marists All for many years now. I have enjoyed reading about those connected with the Brothers and saddened to hear about the passing of “Ted” Gray who was a member of my group.
After leaving the Brothers in 1972, I continued with my teaching career, got married to my wonderful wife Mary, and together we had four children. We moved to Massachusetts in 1978 where I had been teaching social studies in the Cohasset public schools. I retired in June 2006, after thirty-nine years of teaching. I remained in contact with many of the Brothers over the years because of my involvement at Camp Marist as activities director. In 2004, I was privileged and honored to become an affiliated member of the congregation.
This past February the Marist Brothers began looking for someone to fill the leadership role of “executive director” at Camp Marist. I had worked at the camp for over forty years and having just retired from teaching, I decided to apply for the position. With the support of the Board of Directors and many of the Brothers, I began my new role here at Camp Marist. Many of you remember coming to camp while in training in order to open and close the property before and after the season. Some of you worked here during the summers when the camp was entirely staffed by Brothers. Many of you helped in the construction of the buildings, including the beautiful Our Lady of Fatima chapel. I remember working with Brother Peter Hilary as a novice putting an addition on the Arts and Crafts building.
Today the cost of maintaining and repairing these buildings is very high. We no longer have the Brothers who were able to do the work required to maintain these buildings. As a result, we have had to hire outside people to maintain the camp, which has been very expensive. Needless to say, keeping up with the maintenance of the property and buildings has been difficult and part of the challenge that I face as executive director. We are asking for your help by making a small donation to preserve the beauty of this wonderful camp and, in the spirit of Champagnat, of “making Jesus known and loved by all.”
Also, four years ago we began a tradition of inviting alumni and past staff for a “Work and Play Weekend” during the Memorial Day weekend in May. It has turned out to be a huge success. Volunteers help us clean up, paint, and prepare the camp by day and reminisce and relax with some fun camp activities in the evening. There are work projects for all skill levels including simple repairs, raking, gardening, cleaning, painting and some skilled labor projects. We provide great food, great company, work projects, comfortable accommodations, and beautiful Ossipee Lake. Joining us on our work weekend would be another way in which you could help us.
This past summer was one of our best ever. We had 519 campers (both boys and girls), 120 more than we had last season. We started an aggressive recruiting program in the fall and continued it through the spring. We always knew that we had an excellent product in Camp Marist. It was a matter of getting that message out there with a vigorous marketing plan. We had campers from more than ten different countries with an excellent international staff from all parts of the world. It is truly remarkable that with all this diversity, everyone really gets along and respects each other’s culture.
Another way in which you can help is in the area of marketing Camp Marist. Some of you have camp-age children or grandchildren. Many of you also have access to parishes. Brochures and DVD’s on the marketing of Camp Marist are available. Please contact us: Camp Marist, 22 Abel Blvd, Effingham, NH 03882; 603-539-4552; www.campmarist.org. (90 Old Ham St.; Pembrook, MA 02359)
From BILL NEU (’58): A surprise October phone call from Ed Smith instantly turned the clock back fifty years: Esopus, Camp Sunset, swimming in the Hudson. Names and faces of old friends and Brothers slowly began to surface. What a wonderful phone call. All those thoughts of the Prep that came and went over the years raised many unanswered questions. Now there's a chance to get some answers with the added bonus of a chance to renew old friendships. Ed told me of OBbWAT and about how “Oke” O'Connell and George Conboy were searching out old "prepsters." Soon after I spoke with Ed, George and Oke called. It was simply great to hear from them. I can't wait for the Esopus reunion next year.
About me... In a nutshell, my meanderings over the past fifty years were limited. I left Tyngsboro after a brief stay. I got a job in New York with Consolidated Edison in 1959 and retired from the Company in 1998 with 38 and a 1/2 years of service. During that time I spent two years in the Army, married, and raised five sons. I attended night school and finally got an associate degree in business (my fourth attempt at college). I achieved a Coast Guard Captain's license for charter fishing (six-pack license), divorced, and have been happily re-married for eighteen years.
My wife and I are retired. We live on a fifty-two acre farm in rural Farmville, Virginia, with two horses, eight cows, five cats, and currently five Irish wolf hounds which we show and occasionally breed. Talk about Green Acres! I thank God every day for these blessings. We are both in good health and plan to take retirement seriously in about four years, “Lord willing and the creek don't rise.”
I can't wait to see or hear from my old friends. I'll definitely be in touch in the coming months. I’m so glad to be off the missing list. (9776 Five Forks Rd, Farmville Va. 23901; 434-223-7544 (home); 434-603-1707 (cell).
From PAT KEILTY (’65): I have just had a wonderful trip down memory lane checking out the various profession group pictures. Please remember in each issue to ask your readers to send more pictures to the website. Particularly, I am interested in the 1965 novice group from Esopus. Unfortunately, all of my pictures are packed away in storage in Lakeland, FL, while Anne and I live in Germany. (email@example.com)
From BR. RENE ROY (’60): Eight years ago when I returned from Rwanda, I thought I had submitted my last Rwanda File entry, but after my recent visit to Rwanda in June and July, and casually eating ice cream in an in-town mall in Kigali, I knew it was time to reopen the file and let the rest of the world know what marvelous changes are taking place in the country where over a million people were slaughtered in a hundred days from April till July 1994.
In contrast to my 1995 arrival at the then Kanombe Airport, whose windows and floors bore the marks of heavy artillery, and the building itself, carefully guarded by the military, the totally renovated Kigali International Airport is now “military-free” and is staffed by friendly and helpful civilians.
The drive from the airport to the City Center is now a beautiful wide boulevard with manicured grass, palm trees, and flowers adorning the median separating the four-lane boulevard. Entering the city, and circling the breath-taking beauty of the “round-point,” a large rotary totally cultivated with shrubs and hedges and dominated by a central working fountain, I noticed many new, tall, modern buildings already completed, including the Union Trade Center, an “in-town mall” with its open terrace overlooking this glorious traffic circle, and many more under construction, two of them being parking garages. Kigali is coming of AGE!
New, clearly identifiable taxis were all over the place, now running on fixed schedules. Helmeted drivers conducted helmeted passengers on “motos”…motorcycle taxis, weaving in and out of traffic to hurry their passengers to their destinations.
Thousands of workers are engaged in construction from one end of Rwanda to the other. Roads, schools, banks, office buildings, homes, resorts with swimming pools, restaurants, and hotels (some five star!) are being built to accommodate Rwanda’s now nine million people and resurgent tourist population. Kigali itself has expanded from 250,000 in 1999 to 1.2 million people now. New Dawn Tours offers complete packages.
Consumer goods are everywhere now, and in the huge supermarket in the UTC, one can buy everything from food to vacuum cleaners to weightlifting and exercise equipment! The well-dressed business people walk the streets and ride the elevators no differently than they would on Fifth Avenue.
During the Liberation Day ceremonies in Kigali’s Amahoro (Peace) Stadium, the 30,000 assembled there, as well as millions watching TV Rwanda, heard His Excellency, President Paul Kagame, attribute Rwanda’s progress to hard work on the part of everyone, for the security the country has maintained for the past thirteen years, and for a vision of the future which is exciting and inspiring. His goals are to eliminate poverty, extend education, improve infrastructure, attract investment, and ultimately make Rwanda the Shining Star of East Africa, if not all of Africa. He declared that, “we are not building these new buildings to see them destroyed by us in the future. No, we are building them to last.” That means peace and reconciliation must continue; justice and compassion must be served. I would add that Rwanda’s strong leadership in the person of President Kagame has been a major factor in its success.
A strategic plan entitled “Vision 2020” is underway, including the above goals as well as the construction of a new international airport and a huge commercial center like that in Dubai, which will add to Rwanda’s economic growth
In addition, Rwanda and Burundi, its neighbor to the south, have recently joined the East African Community, which means a large increase in trade with neighboring Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. Already the impact of these Anglophone countries is being felt in Rwanda with the decree that English MUST be taught in every school and that courses more and more should be taught in English.
It was very affirming to meet my former students and speak to them in English, hearing that many of them actually became English teachers, using my notes as their texts, even to the point of teaching their students the songs I taught them. During one long automobile ride with some of them, we sang by heart song after song from our English classes 8-9-10 years ago!
Education is KEY to the success of Rwanda’s “Vision 2020” and has been a major concern of mine since returning to the USA. Thanks to many of my readers and friends, I’ve been able to send over more than $70,000 to help students there complete their secondary and university educations. As one would guess, this is too much work for one already engrossed in the huge responsibility as president of Central Catholic High School, so I’m in the process, along with my Rwandan colleagues and Rwandan businesses, to establish a Foundation with an endowment of a million dollars whose interest will annually pay school fees for those who qualify. We hope to have it in operation by next January.
Rwanda is not perfect; there is still a long way to go. But the optimism and energy of people of all ages, the work ethic, the ability to accept the past (there are several genocide memorials around the country which keep the memory alive, with the main very impressive one in Kigali) and yet move on to the future, and the momentum gained in the past thirteen years all point to a very bright future, one that would hardly have seemed possible even eight years ago. I would encourage the readers of this file to see for themselves what marvels are taking place today in Rwanda. You will find the same amenities you are accustomed to here or in any European country, as well as polite, polished, gentle and warm Rwandans ready to guide and help in any way. Go whenever, but if you want to wait a bit longer, I’ll be returning in 2010 as part of my 50th jubilee celebration and again in 2020 to see the realization of “Vision 2020”
This is Rene, and this is The Rwanda File. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From ED JENNINGS (’65): Thanks to Pat Keilty for mentioning the Singing Brothers in the last issue of Marists All. His contribution pushed me to finally write.
In the late sixties, as scholastics entered and graduated from Marist College, the Singing Brothers group had a variety of members. During the 1966-67 school year, the group had the opportunity to play at many Marist high schools and at Marist College. Pat mentioned a few members of this group. I’ll try for the complete list: Vinny Buonora, John Ritchdorff, Al Senes, Tom Nolan, Jim Carger, Al Smith, Joe Hager, Jack Lee, Ray Armstrong, and me.
I continued to play the guitar through the mid 1980’s and then stopped. A couple of years ago someone handed me a guitar at a gathering given by Don Gillespie, a great friend and juniorate buddy, and I caught the bug again. Now I’m trying to play a little each day, and I’m enjoying the old folk and blues songs more than ever.
My wife, Rosemary, and I are still working hard. I’ve been at Archbishop Molloy High School for the last thirty-one years, mostly as a math teacher and department chair, and for the last few years as assistant principal. It has been a great pleasure to be associated with many wonderful lay teachers and Marist Brothers, many of whom are lifelong friends. (242-15 90th Avenue; Bellerose, NY 11426)
From JOSEPH (EUGENE MICHAEL) HORAN ('50): Each time I read Marists All my mind reflects back to the many years spent as a Marist Brother. With each issue incidents pop into my mind that reflect the closeness we achieved over the years. What would our lives have been were we not given the good fortune to be at least called to be part of this wonderful group? Times have changed; we have changed; and our lives have been impacted with many responsibilities. Throughout all this, somehow, I have held on to my Marist life and faith, as well as the friendships that were part of this life. Reading the brief letters in Marists All, the message is the same. This is a part of our life that has become the springboard for everything we have accomplished.
To date, I have lost several of my classmates as well as specific Brothers that I am indebted to. As I read about them, I am brought back to the impact they have had on my life. I recall so many incidents where we shared our joys and sorrows. We united as a family and shared accordingly. Reading about their lives has brought these memories to the forefront and I cherish them. I pray each day for my fellow Marists. I'm thankful for having been associated with them.
After retiring as a superintendent of schools, my wife and I moved to San Antonio, FL. It is located about forty miles north on I-75 from Tampa. We live in a deeded community. It is a lively community with many activities -- travel clubs, golf courses, activities that range from book reading to live dancing lessons. We have included ourselves in these activities and as such stay quite active. Because of my background, I have been elected the president of our HOA organization for the past six years. I enjoy this work even though it requires many hours each week.
My wife, Dolores, and I traveled to Turkey in April. We spent three weeks on a land and ship tour. We had done much research before going and with only fourteen tourists, we had time to explore and enjoy. Last year we did a re-position cruise that started in Copenhagen and touched various countries such as England, Scotland, Ireland (north and south), Iceland, Newfoundland (St. John's), New York and finally, Ft. Lauderdale. Travel is an integral part of our lifestyle. (352-588-0179; email@example.com)
From ROGER R. FERNANDEZ (’54): I live with my wife Lucille in Glendale, in the outskirts of Los Angeles, CA. I have seven children and six grandchildren, the youngest being only three months old.
In the last Marists All I was touched by Bill Deschene’s account about his famous crew cut as well as the walk on the railroad tracks. I was one of those Brothers from “far away” who accompanied him, though I must confess that I was worried about crossing the Hudson River on the railroad bridge, which looked very “shaky” from a distance, instead of on the beautiful and solid main bridge we used when we usually went walking to Esopus.
Like him, I remember the Brothers from the Philippines, Germany, China, and Spain. The Brothers from Spain and Germany came mainly from the Marist center, St. Francis Xavier, in Grugliasco, near Turin, Italy, where we completed the juniorate. We then went to nearby Bairo-Torre for the postulate and novitiate. After the novitiate, the Superior General would send us to the scholasticate in different parts of the world. Most of us hoped to be chosen to report to study in Poughkeepsie. Very few did. I was very fortunate and studied four years at Marist College. So did Brothers Xavier Urrutia, Agustín, Ángel, Gregory and the other German Brothers whose names Bill mentions in his article. After our scholastic studies, the Superior General would send us to teach in different Marist schools around the world. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
And so it was that Brothers Xavier Urrutia and Agustín received the order to go to South Africa from Brother Léonidas in his last year as Superior General. I received mine to report there as well but from Brother Charles Raphael the day after he was elected Superior General during the General Chapter held in Grugliasco, Italy, in October 1958. If my memory serves me right, it was also at that international meeting of the Marists that Brother Paul Ambrose was named Assistant General. He was the one who informed me after the Te Deum Mass: “the New Superior General has something important to tell you. Go to his office tomorrow morning…” Unfortunately, that occasion turned out to be the last time I saw him and talked to him. As far as I am concerned, he ranks among the great.
I consider it a pleasant, perhaps even providential, coincidence that Bill Deschene’s letter and mine appeared in the same Marists All issue of August 2007 recalling an incident that occurred in June of 1955 at the College. I do not remember, however, if that was the same occasion when we decided to say the rosary in different languages. That is, one of us would start in German, let’s say. Then we all had to answer in our own language. The mixture of all those sounds was so funny that we burst into laughter and had to start the rosary anew; only this time, we had to say it all in English. (1369 Bruce Avenue, Glendale, CA 91202)
From RON PASQUARIELLO (’57): I just got a phone call from Joe Crews, Greg Ballerino's partner of fourteen years. Greg died on Sept 29 at 4:15 pm surrounded by Joe, Celeste (Greg's daughter), and Martha (Greg's ex-wife).
Greg had found out in April that he had CLL Leukemia and underwent chemotherapy treatments from then until last week, when he contracted a bacterial infection from which he did not recover. Greg and I were always close--in the juniorate, at Marist College, and in our early years in the field. Since we were always in contact, I remember how devastated I was when he left the Brothers. And I am devastated once more by his early departure. Greg and I stayed in touch over the years but really reconnected about fifteen years ago when I moved to San Francisco. He came up from San Diego to visit me a number of times. We were planning to get together as soon as Greg got stronger. Greg and I were in almost weekly contact by phone and e-mail since April. He had an incredible will to live and an overwhelming faith in the healing power of the universe and what it had in store for him. While undergoing chemo treatments, he would take out his Buddhist prayer beads and chant a healing mantra. He read Rumi and Hafitz during these last months. He would tell me, through his pain, about his ecstatic feeling of oneness with everything.
Greg lived an incredibly full life. I lost track of all the ventures he pursued, professionally and artistically. I am sure most of us remember him as a talented piano and organ player from his Marist days. He was also a songwriter (wrote and recorded an album of hymns), an entertainer, a therapist, a teacher, a financial advisor, and most recently, an award winning art photographer. He was good at everything he attempted.
So what do you say when the earth has lost such a treasure? Perhaps that he has gone off to enhance another universe with his goodness.
From JOHN O’CONNELL (’58): Greg Ballerino '57 joined George Conboy, Bernie Ortueste, Richie Shaw and me, all novice group of '58, at Kevin Finn's ('60) in Newport Beach, CA, at a “mini-gathering" which he repeatedly said proved cathartic for him. That was back in March of 2005 (right after we had spent a couple of days with Ron Pasquariello just north of San Francisco in Cotati). Those of you who have been part of our Esopus "gatherings" have seen the many photos taken during that trip, many of them Greg's. He graced us with his presence and his photography skills at the 2006 gathering, including a great portrait group photo of a good number of us there.
He was unable to join us last April as he prepared for an exhibition of his phenomenal "photo-art" nature works, and only two weeks later, after complaining of sudden pain in his stomach area, was diagnosed with cancer.
His last several emails catalogued his back-and-forth reactions to chemotherapy, including some indications of occasional remission always with an upbeat “dealing with it" kind of message. In an email to us on July 4th, he offered this prayer and well-wishes to all his B/brothers:
"I keep you -- all the OB/bWAT Marist family -- those who are healthy and those who are out-of-balance with their health. I hold you in the center of the life-giving SOURCE, the SOURCE of love and healing energy. I breathe into the center to open space in each of you. I breathe out energy from the SOURCE that is all around us, in us, above us, under us to fill the openness and space with all that you need to touch your heart, restore and heal your body and nurture your soul. As always in friendship and support, Greg Ballerino"
Rest in peace, brother Greg Ballerino. (15 High Street, Boothbay Harbor, ME; 207-633-0644; oBbWAT@aol.com.
From LEO BYRON (’57): Those who knew Greg, or “Dickie Bal” (from the Prep days), have lost a very dear friend. He was a very special human being. At the 2006 gathering, warm and humorous memories were recalled. On one of our two-week vacations, we visited each other’s homes, I had him believing that our "mighty Merrimac River" was so much larger than the Hudson River. The look on his face when he saw the Merrimac was hilarious. I am sure going to miss our emails and phone calls. The world has lost, and heaven has gained, one of God's finest creations. See you down the road, Dickie. Our prayers are with you. (20 Valley Rd, Boxford, MA 01921; 978-273-0868; email@example.com.)
From JOE CREWS: Greg and I were partners for over fourteen years, and Greg moved to my place in Fallbrook ten years ago after Celeste moved out of town for a promotion in Denver, leaving Greg's nest empty. Greg was very happy here in rural Fallbrook. After moving here, photography became his avid interest, and he took over 10,000 photographs of just these few acres. I am an amateur landscaper and botanical gardener, but Greg was the one whose spirit communicated with all living things here, plant and critter. He photographed hummingbirds, rabbits, roadrunners, hawks, quail (our specially revered guests), and made the best shots I have ever seen of a giant Western rattlesnake. We honored their visits also. But most of all, he photographed exotic weeds, flowers, plants and all manner of things which I had never seen until I saw his photographs. Greg had this uncanny ability to communicate with all life forms. (3212 Sage Road; Fallbrook, CA 92028; 960-728-9035; firstname.lastname@example.org)
From LARRY WHARTENBY (’57): One of my clearest memories of Greg Ballerino is of him playing the piano. He had a talent for style and accuracy that I could only admire and hope to someday imitate. I had just written him recently, telling him how I remembered his interpretation of a particular song of Eddie Duchin. I came across a simplified version in a music book recently, and as I started to try to play it, I found myself imitating the version he had played often back in Esopus. I remember the year we spent together with John Reul in Lévis, Québec; the times we skied together; played hockey together (getting killed by those ferocious Canadians). I remember how the three of us traveled to Quebec City in a train compartment for two and their telling me the next day how much sleep I had deprived them of by my snoring! The light of his kindness and the sound of his music will always be with us. (Lawrence_Whartenby@msn.com)
From ARTIE LAVIGNE (’55)(and Anne Marie): Recently, I shared with friends a poem written in the '80's when I was exploring eastern religions. Perhaps the Buddhist part of Greg would have liked it, and so I share it here in his memory. (email@example.com)
I ask release that
I may be
What keeps me
there but seldom here
Discover now what
You are father;
you are mother
From JAMES P. FRIEL (’52): To Greg Ballerino - 10/19/07
We met in Esopus by the roiling Hudson River traveling its route from Canada to lower New York. In the old days, it would freeze over, and trucks would deliver produce by driving across the river.
We came from all over the country flowing, like the Hudson, to one warm spot, lest we too freeze over in the winter and forget the good times, the bad times, the in-between times, as Marist Brothers, around the world.
You were special, Greg, just like the river. You flowed, a smooth ointment, healing sores, promising better things to come, working day by day, getting those bricks in order, to reach a higher place.
Water, of course, is a baptism. We become new, born again. So we gathered by the river where some of us had studied in the past, and we found our roots, burrowed in a room with a fireplace, in a kitchen that seated ten or fifteen, in a dining room that held us all.
If Greg caught a fish, he would pat it on the head and toss it back into the water, to freedom. He was that kind of person; is that kind of person. So easily the water flowed through him. Did he learn it from the Hudson? The water was a healing ointment he shared with us all.
A moist day is a good beginning. The sun rises up to greet us all, a signal that all is well.
Time, of course, interrupts. The body announces a curfew. Greg recedes like a tired river,
He is here. The body has to go when it is tired. The spirit remains. The fish are at play in the water. We know their joy, having known Greg. Until we meet again…. And each day we also are at play. Au voir (firstname.lastname@example.org)
From Rich Shaw (’58): "Thank you for your prayers and sending healing energy my way. I hold all of you in the center of the ONE LIFE SOURCE of life, love and healing energy to bring you whatever relief you need to maintain your health, nurture your heart and soul. As always in friendship and support, Greg Ballerino.” These words from Greg at the end of an update email on his condition and progress dated August 30, 2007, only thirty days before his death, seem to me to embody the spirit of our special friend as he battled the leukemia flowing thru his blood and bone marrow. Unknown at the time, a bacterial infection was soon to take hold and take him from us. Nevertheless, we his Marist family, his wife Martha, daughter Celeste, his longtime friend Joe Crews, and his many friends and neighbors were to him, the center of his life source. He reached out in love to us all during his life, and I'm sure from his eternity. I'm not sure I knew this, but in a struggle to find the words to express what I felt at Greg's "Celebration of Life" at his home in Fallbrook, California, on Sunday October 21st, I read and reread all the email and messages and tried to recall my memories of him. But then, suddenly, there it was, in Greg's own words of August 30th. The words summarize who he was...someone who wanted us all to share with one another the life source of life, love, and healing energy. (email@example.com)
Memory test for all MaristsAll persons. This photo taken in the Tyngsboro Juniorate in 1945 appeared in a recent issue of a publication put out by the Marist Brothers in Rome. Some readers may to be able to identify everyone pictured, but old age has stumped me, so I need help from you Marist Alls out there. If you identify any of the persons, please send me your information at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will republish the photo with as many names as we can scrounge up. To see an enlargement, click on the thumbnail at the right. Give me the name as you remember it, and the position from the left in one of the rows.
From the Editor: Echoing over the years are the words of Champagnat: “Do good quietly.” In these ninety issues of Marists All, the stories contain a continuation of what we have referred to as an “apostolate.” Young men with big hearts grew up. They still find ways of doing good things. One special way that I have noticed is the reaching out to each other quietly when there is a need. The need, sometimes, is just a quick note or email or telephone call.
I received a call from Charlie Kennedy (‘58). He asked that I mention that he wanted so much to hear from those who remember him from a half century ago. Please drop him a note. It would be very important to him: 80-08 45th Avenue, Room 315; Elmhurst, NY 11373-3545.
Several of our readers have sent monetary contributions to cover expenses related to sending out our quarterly Marists All: Rosemarie and Ray Blanchard (’47), Eugene Luttrell (’63), Pat Gallagher (’53), Ed Jennings (’65). Contributions should be sent to Gus Nolan, in his name.
For those who remember Andrew Molloy and who would like to honor him, a gift may be sent to Marist College as a contribution to the Memorial Scholarship in Chemistry in his honor. Gifts may be made online at http://www.marist.edu/alumni/molloygift or sent to College Advancement, at Marist College.
Those who would like to include written material in the next Marists All should have it sent to Vince Poisella before February 1st. Changes of address or phone numbers should be sent to Rob Schmid. Addresses are on the front page of this issue. Thank you.