Sister M. Rose Bernard (Bernadette) Gehring, C.S.C. (1894-1938)
“The main altar in St. Patrick church [South Bend, Indiana] was a gift from Mr. John Gehring and his only child, Bernadette, in honor of Mary Collmer, Mr. Gehring’s first wife and Bernadette’s mother. Mary died in 1918 and Mr. Gehring then married Louise Oberle Decker. Bernadette was born in South Bend and attended St. Mary’s school, St. Joseph Academy and received her B.A. from Notre Dame University. She entered the Congregation of Holy Cross on Jan. 2, 1920 and made her final profession August 15, 1925. Answering the call to go to India and serve the poor, she volunteered but first spent two years in Washington D.C. studying at the Holy Cross Foreign Mission Seminary. In 1927 she [was among the first four Holy Cross Sisters to serve in] Bengal, India. During her 11 years, Sister, with the help of others including Rev. Timothy J. Crowley, C.S.C., who was Bishop of Dacca, founded a native religious sisterhood called the Associates of Mary. [‘From the start Sister’s ability in forming these Indian nuns was evident. With no outward show of severity there was a closeness of convent discipline that was enviable’]”(The Bengalese, September 1938). “Given the primitive living conditions of the day what the Sisters accomplished in education and nursing is truly amazing. In 1938 Sister contracted a tropical disease and died on the anniversary of her profession, August 15, 1938.]’ She is buried in St. John Baptist Cemetery [beside Sister Jarlath, C.S.C.] in Toomiliah, Bengal (Bangladesh)” (St. Patrick’s Church 150 years, nd). An account of her last days is taken from a letter written by Father Lawrence Graner [who would become Archbishop of Dacca]. “[S]he had been doing well and was taken with a slight fever and this developed into a severe pain in her head. None thought it was serious, though Sister was in dreadful pain. Morphine injections gave her little relief. As she was constantly asking for the Sacraments, Father [Walter] Marks finally anointed her, though even then we thought the pain would pass at any time. By Saturday evening her pulse was almost gone.” Her condition remained the same on Saturday and Sunday. “Monday I [Father Graner] said Mass there and Sister was able to understand me and to open her mouth sufficiently to receive Holy Communion. But she was evidently falling into a comma.” She died two days later on the feast of the Assumption. (The Bengalese, October 1939) (Bottom photo from the Archives of the Sisters of the Holy Cross courtesy of Sisters Timothea Kingston and Joanne Becker).
Brother Leopold (Joseph) Kaul, C.S.C. (1836-1935)
Pictured standing next to his priest brother and his two sisters Brother Leopold was born in Baden, Germany. He was a violinist of rare merit, but, he had no wish to display his talents. Fortunately, he had brought his violin with him, but kept it concealed in his trunk. It was the practice of superiors in those days to search through all the belongings of a candidate. The superior found the violin and reported this to Father Sorin. Brother Leopold was called to Sorin’s office. Could he play the violin? Somewhat reluctantly, he admitted the fact. How well could he play? In his modesty, he declined to say. But Father Sorin had ways of finding out. And the result was that Brother Leopold was set up as a professor of violin. Over the next 40 plus years, he estimated that he taught over 600 Notre Dame musicians: violin, flute, cello, piano and voice. During these early years he also worked as the printer for the Ave Maria. Years later, when he had grown too feeble to be a professor, his desire to continue working was gratified by an appointment as the “candy-man” for the students. Known as Brother Leeps, he sold lemonade and cakes and cookies laying aside a tidy penny for the University. His “store” suffered many movings-about, but for two generations of Notre Dame students, “Leeps” meant largely “lemonade and fours.” The “fours” referred to a chocolate covered cookie, topped by a walnut. There were other confections, indicated by numbers of one, two, three, four, on up to sixteen, but “fours” was the popular number. His lemonade was mixed in great wooden tubs, and it was a hearty drink to students who were threatened with expulsion if they attempted anything stronger. For a nickel, the students of Father Cavanaugh’s regime could get a large glass of lemonade and two “fours.” Brother Leopold spent nearly 80 years as a man of prayer and work. As a tiny, shrunken old man he kept laboring to the very end. In the last ten years of his life, when he lived in the Community House [now Columba Hall], he would trudge along with his wheel-barrow, gathering twigs and branches that littered the grounds. He was forever busy. His humility was traditional and all his life he thought himself only the lowest of the lowly. “But one has only to look into the child-like simplicity of his face, into those faded, sightless blue eyes to catch a glimpse of an effulgence far from mundane.” (A compilation of many memories from many sources as found in Aiden’s Extracts).
Fr. Christopher J. O’Toole, C.S.C. (1906-1986)
Christopher O’Toole was born in 1906 in Alpena, Michigan. He professed Final Vows in the Congregation in 1928 and was ordained a priest in 1933. After advanced studies in philosophy, he served as Novice Master, Superior of Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., and Assistant Provincial of the U.S. Province. At the 1950 General Chapter, he was elected Superior General. O’Toole oversaw the moving of the Congregation’s General Administration to Rome, opening the new facility, which included both the Generalate and an international House of Formation in 1954. In 1955 Father Moreau’s cause for sainthood was introduced in Rome. Also during his tenure as Superior General, the Congregation opened missions in Ghana (1957) and Uganda (1958) in Africa. He also opened a school in northern Italy in an effort to recruit vocations. O’Toole’s years in office witnessed a steady growth in the Congregation to more than 3,000 brothers and priests by 1962. After leaving office, Fr. O’Toole served as Superior of the District of Texas and then as the first Provincial Superior of the Southern Province (Austin, Texas) when it was established in 1968. In later years, he was a hospital chaplain and campus minister at Cardinal Newman College in St. Louis, Missouri. Father O’Toole died 1986.