Brother Ambrose (John) McCarthy (1905-1935)

Killed in An Automobile Accident*

From the writings of Brother Ernest Ryan, CSC.

Brother Ambrose died on All Souls Day, November 2, just a few months after being appointed manager of the Association of Saint Joseph. Thirty-one years of age he had pronounced his final vows on August 16 after having given every evidence of a most successful religious life.  He possessed a keen, well-disciplined mind, able to brush away every interference with the business at hand, and he inspired confidence and respect.

His body lay in the Postulate Chapel overnight before removal to Notre Dame for burial in the Community Cemetery.  Postulants watched, a group being relieved each hour; and all, perhaps, learning more during their vigil than they will from any other experience of the Postulate days.  Death had struck swiftly; they had seen Brother at Night Prayer and in the morning were told of his death.  “Let us be convinced,” said Father Dever’s (John A), beginning a Mass of the repose of Brother’s soul, “of the absolute certainty of death.”

But the impact of even sudden death is softened in the religious life. Brother Ambrose attended Mass and received Holy Communion every day of the short five years he had as a Brother. Every day, too, he had prayed at least three hours in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament; every week he had made the Way of the Cross and a Holy Hour; every summer he had made an eight-day retreat.  And shortly before his death he had attended the 40 hours at the College.  God gave him five years of preparation; thousands each year do not receive five minutes.  Death to the good religious is the crowning experience of life.

*Brother Ambrose met death in an auto accident on the Milwaukee Highway east of Watertown, Wisconsin.  Before coming to Watertown, he was stationed at Holy Cross College, New Orleans, Louisiana. His religious name was changed in 1934 from Sulpicius to Ambrose.

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