Adolph L. Labonté, F.M.S., a Marist missioner for 27 years, died
May 19, 2001 at Calvary Hospital in the Bronx. He was 75.
Labonté served in Sarawak, China, and Papua New Guinea, from
1961 to 1986. In 1988 he joined the Marists in Liberia, but returned
to the United States in 1990 because of poor health.
that time, he was assigned to the Marist Brothers' Retreat House in
Esopus where he did cooking for the retreats and property maintenance.
was stationed at Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx from 1954 to
1961 and 1986 to 1988.
in Tulsa, Oklahoma, he moved with his family to Manchester, New Hampshire.
He entered the Marist Brothers in 1940 in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts,
and completed the novitiate in Poughkeepsie, making first vows five
years later and final vows in 1950. He graduated from Marist College
funeral Mass was offered May 22 at Mount St. Michael Academy. Burial
was in the Marist Brothers' cemetery in Esopus.
article appeared in the Catholic New York 24 May 2001
portions of the eulogy given by Brother Thomas Simmons)
Adolphe Leo (44) earned his degree from Marian College in 1948.
He cooked for a year before going to teach in Lowell. Then he taught
in Lawrence for four years before moving to the Mount to be a prefect
for boarding students. Adolphe loved small children the most. He kept
a close eye out for the young ones who rarely received family visits.
He would take them to the movies or to the Bronx Zoo.
years after his novitiate the Lord and Champagnat called Adolphe to
the foreign missions. For 30 years he labored happily as a missionary.
Adolphe answered Yes to anything asked of him, even before
the entire question had been completed. I trusted my superiors
about anything they thought I could handle, and I went to work. I would
do it again. Adolphe worked in classrooms that were no more than
mud-floor huts. He sloshed through many monsoon seasons. Malaria laid
his body low, but not his spirit and dedication. They say he was forever
smiling, and his students were noted as always being happy. Adolphe
worked in exotic places, like Ipoh, Malaysia; Sibu, Sirawak; Papua,
New Guinea; Borneo; and back to Sibu, Sarawak, where he was the schools
principal and the director of his community. He was also with the American
missionaries in Liberia several times.
his return to the States Adolphe took up residence in Esopus. He was
the man for all seasons during his twelve-year stint of duty there.
His love for work for the good of his congregation knew no limits. Work
was always for the good of tomorrow and for those who would follow.
Adolphe gave work dignity. Whatever needed to be done, whatever it takes
to get the job done, lets do it right now was his attitude.
say applesauce pancakes would bring to some folks instant
smiles and a recognition of Adolphe. Adolphe created this recipe. Lets
put some meat on these kids, he would say. Lets give
the retreatants and their staff a hearty breakfast. Applesauce is cheap
enough. Thats Adolphes thinking about the well-being
of his kids even high school and college kids. Should a former
retreatant return, he would want to know if Adolphe still made those
it came time to look at his mortality, Adolphe would simply say, Just
put me there in Esopus West. I want to be with my friends. Adolphes
battle with cancer started about 18 months ago. Through his numerous
trips to Albany and his many surgeries, Adolphe kept his cool while
instantaneously agreeing with whatever his doctors thought best for
him. His only lament was the loss of time away from his lawn-mowing
tractor or from his chance to work in the kitchen and be near his kids.
When he was told that his cancer had the upper hand, his immediate response
was, I have lived my life as a Marist Brother as best I could.
I have absolutely no regrets and I am ready for Esopus West as God bids.
My number has been called, as I have always known it would be. And so
Adolphe was told that Brother Provincial thought it best for him to
move to the Mount and then to Calvary Hospital, he once again answered
Yes before the provincials thought was fully expressed.
Not once did Adolphe complain about his condition or about the care
he received along his journey. Adolphe was in the hospital at Calvary
for fifteen days before continuing his journey beyond time on May 19th,
a Saturday, Marys day.
BERNIE (Bernard Aloysius) GARRETT (44): I read with sadness of
the death of Brother Adolph Leo in the last issue. We were in the same
group of 44; there are not many of that group still alive. Had
I known of Adolphs death earlier I would have attended the Mass
and the interment. Keep up the good work and keep the publication coming.