Brother Andrew Steffes, C.S.C. (1902-1992)

steffes1.jpgBrother Andrew was born in Springfield, IL and attended grammar schools there. He joined the Brothers at the age of 14 making his first profession in 1919.  He studied at Notre Dame for four years, earning teaching certificates in science and mathematics. His first assignment was to teach at Central Catholic High in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 1926, he was assigned to teach and work in Bengal (now Bangladesh) where he served for 46 years. In the article, “What Old Tajma Rabadab thought of Americans” printed in the mission periodical The Bengalese, in 1945, one reads about Brother Andrew that “Old Tajma Rabadab, the long-bearded Indian wise man, thinks Brother Andrew is the smartest, kindest and all-around best man he has ever met.”  The old wise man formed his opinion of Americans because of an interaction Brother Andrew had with Bengali boys. The old man overheard Brother Andrew encouraging them to honor their parents and to obey all of the laws of “the Great God in whom everyone believes.”  He served as headmaster and science teacher at two high schools. In 1940 he was made the superintendent of construction for the archdiocese of Dacca, supervising the building of new schools, chapels and infirmaries. In 1954, he helped establish the St. Joseph School of Industrial steffes2.jpgTrades in Dacca, a vocational school for young men to learn to be qualified technicians. He wrote texts for use in the school both in English and Bengali which were published by the government for all vocational schools. He loved sports and coached volleyball and softball teams. He had the capacity for hard work and lived a simple lifestyle. Brother Andrew was a source of hope and taught the dignity of labor by example. He returned to the U.S. in 1972 to serve on the staff of the Brothers’ Center at Notre Dame where he continued to work in variety of duties with other brothers in maintenance. Idle hands he never had. (Adapted from the Legacy Project created by Brother Larry Stewart, C.S.C.)

Sister M. Joseph (Catherine Margaret), CSC, (1924-2019)

sr. catherine sullivan.jpgBy the time the Saint Mary’s community had gathered for the festive Easter morning liturgy at the motherhouse, Sister Joseph had already seen the Paschal Light of the risen Christ when she died on Easter at Saint Mary’s Convent, hours before the break of day. Catherine Margaret Sullivan was born in Chicago, Illinois. Her Catholic parents were both natives of County Kerry, Ireland. Her father, Timothy Sullivan, fought in World War I.  After the war, he worked for Bowman Dairy and her mother was a homemaker. Mrs. Sullivan was in her late thirties when she died. Sister Joseph wrote: “These were really sad days for us.” Her father was so shaken by his wife’s death, that he sought help from relatives to care for his children. Eventually, it was necessary to split up the children, though they stayed in Chicago. Sister Joseph learned from her extended family how to be a generous, caring, loving and sharing person. She first met the Sisters of the Holy Cross at St. Theodore Elementary School in Chicago and wanted to be a nurse. With only an invitation to consider if she had a religious vocation, she applied to St. Mary’s Academy in Notre Dame, Indiana in 1943 for her secondary education, entering the juniorate as preparation for her admission to the convent after her third year. Sister Joseph earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, in 1962 after many summers. But since 1945 she had been a successful teacher in Catholic parochial schools in Indiana, Michigan and Illinois. In 1967, Sister Joseph earned her master’s in education and reading from Saint Francis College in Fort Wayne, Indiana and became principal at five schools in the Midwest from 1968-1988. From 1988 to 1999 she served at Most Holy Redeemer School in Evergreen Park, Illinois, as assistant principal, teacher and learning center coordinator. Sister Joseph transitioned to the motherhouse, and in September 2000 she was appointed superior at Lourdes Convent. Since 2010, Sister Joseph’s ministry of prayer sustained her community in Saint Mary’s Convent where she will be remembered for her laughter, warmth and loving heart. When Sister celebrated her golden jubilee in 1995, Archbishop Joseph Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago wrote her with encouragement from the Holy Redeemer parishioners: “Thank you for your commitment and generous response to the gospel of Jesus over these many years…. You have been a blessing to the church and to the family of Sisters of the Holy Cross.” (Adapted form a eulogy Written by ​Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC)

Sister Mary Bonavita (Kathleen) Cannon, C.S.C. (1907-1997)

sr. bonavita.jpgKathleen Cannon was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and entered the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1925.  One of the youngest missionary sisters, not only in age but in years of service, Sister Bonavita made her way to Bengal, now Bangladesh, in 1932 on the S.S. Paris sailing from Los Angeles, California.  It is reported that she “brought her cheerful nature and youthful enthusiasm to the Foreign Mission Convent in Washington, D.C. It is further reported in a brief article in a 1932 issue of mission periodical, The Bengalese, that a group “[Held] an informal reception on the 15th street docks and in the spacious lounges of the S.S. Paris, the Bonavita Club, with many a bon voyage and many flowers on her [Sister Bonavita’s] way to India.  The Bonavita Club whose members are largely drawn from the parishioners of New York’s wonderful Paulist Church, St. Paul the Apostle, was organized only a month ago when it was learned that Sister Bonavita who had taught in the Paulist School was going to Bengal.  Although the youngest of our mission clubs, the Bonavita Club has already displayed the mission activity of a veteran missionary organization.”  In a letter, written in February of 1932, Sister Bonavita and Sister Helen Xavier (Manes) write about their time at sea and in Rome, “Yes, we were terrible sailors.  Seasickness, ugh!  One night a porthole flew open and in rushed the sea.  It was at dinner and it was really comical to see the diners fall over the chairs in the hurry to get to the deck.  (Pst, we nearly fell over, too!)  In Rome the greatest event was our audience with the Holy Father [Pius XI].  Colorful Swiss Guards challenged us at the gates, we passed through mazes of audience rooms, all crowed with officials in most picturesque costumes.  When the Holy Father, such a kindly, gentle figure, came in, we knelt and kissed his ring.  He said a few words of encouragement, blessed us and our friends at home, and it was over.”  While in Bengal Sister Bonavita served at St. Anthony School in Nagari.  Returning to the States in 1935, she worked in various schools and hospitals for the next 60 years.  Sister Bonavita died at St. Catherine’s Convent, Ventura, California, in 1997 and is buried in Santa Clara Cemetery, Oxnard, California.  Ave Crux Spes Unica!

Brother Walter (John) Remlinger, C.S.C. (1889-1939)

remlinger1“Shortly after his high school days in Norwalk, Ohio, John Remlinger came to Notre Dame and entered the novitiate.  He graduated from the University in 1915 and spent six years teaching in the States.  In each of the three schools he left and enviable reputation as a scholar and a religious.  On September 30, 1921, in company with Brother Louis Gazagne, he sailed from New York for India.  Scarcely was he in the mission field when he was appointed Headmaster of Holy Cross High School in Bandura. In 1929, he was transferred to a similar position at St. Gregory High School in Dacca. At both schools he was preeminent as teacher, administrator, apostle, respected and beloved by faculty and students.  Like St. Paul, he made himself all things to all men.  In 1938 he was elected delegate from Bengal to the General Chapter of the Congregation of Holy Cross at Notre Dame. His zeal, prudence and piety were evident remlinger2.jpgduring the sessions.  But he was to see India no more.  For years he had secretly suffered from a malignant cancer.  He was confined to the Community Infirmary where he lingered for more than half a year on bed of pain, an example of radiant joy and sanctity. Those who visited him in his illness felt closer to heaven.  He died on the feast of the Assumption.  Like the Little Flower he had gone to labor in the Eternal Mission, where we fondly hope he is still mindful of Bengal” (Bulletin of the Educational Conference of the Brothers of Holy Cross, June, 1940).  In September of 1939, the following memorial was printed in missionary periodical, The Bengalese: “We are sorry of chronicle for you the death of one of remlinger3our most beloved missionaries.  With unstinted efforts, Brother Walter devoted his entire and extraordinary talents to the development of Holy Cross’s educational program in Bengal.  That he was successful, one need only ask the older missioners who worked with him in Bengal. Brother Walter fulfilled the trust his brethren placed in him.  His [last] suffering, we feel sure, will not be in vain as we pray that through his intercession with Our Divine Lord graces will be showered upon Holy Cross in Bengal.  May his dear soul rest in Peace.”

Father James Burns, C.S.C. (1867-1940)

image1 (29)Father Burns was born in Michigan City, Indiana in 1867.  He entered Holy Cross in 1888 and was ordained in 1893, the year Father Sorin died.  For a number of years, as superior of Holy Cross College in Washington, D.C., he was instrumental not only in the development of that house of studies but in the early progress of the Catholic University, being recognized even in those years as an authority and champion of Catholic education in the United States.  As the spirit of the missions began to take hold in the country, Father Burns recognized the importance of fostering this spirit in the Congregation of Holy Cross and gave every encouragement in his power toward the crystallization of that spirit in the foundation of the mission periodical, The Bengalese. In 1927 he was selected to act as Provincial in the United States, a position he held until his election as Assistant to the Superior General in the summer of 1938.  Though the prospect of the journey to India and the difficulties of an official visitation of the mission were far from promising, Father Burns bravely faced the sacrifices involved and journeyed to India in the fall of 1935.  While in India he visited personally all of the mission stations of the Dacca territory. With paternal patience he listened to the enthusiastic outline of opportunities as painted by the “zealous tongues” of the missionaries and he returned to the States visibly impressed with the foreign mission apostolate of Holy Cross in Bengal.  The Mission Procurator and those associated with him in the apostolate of financing the mission acknowledged their heavy debt of gratitude to Father Burns for the careful consideration and seasoned guidance he offered all their plans for the furtherance of their work and the unlimited cooperation and encouragement he gave them in their work, not only by word, but especially by deed.  The last months of Father Burns’ life were days of inexpressible pain. “In dying, as in life, Father Burns remained to the end an example to be aimed at in imitation by his religious brethren.” (Adapted from a memorial by Father Francis Goodall, C.S.C., October 1940, The Bengalese)

Brother Urban (Andrew) McKeon, C.S.C. (1835-1912)

image1 (21)“Brother Urban, one of the oldest educators of the Holy Cross order, died at Notre Dame university Friday morning at 4 o’clock.  He was porter at the university for several years and during that time had many friends” (South Bend Tribune). When Brother Urban died in 1912, he was a much-revered member of the Congregation as described in 1908 in this Scholastic article.  “There is probably no city or important town in the United States which does not hold warm friends of the devoted Brother whose courtesy has committed him to the respect of all who have met him.  Not in vain was he named Urban, for urbanity was his characteristic. No hour too late, and no hour too early for him to serve the chance visitor or to dispense to the public the hospitality of the famous University” (42:26).  In another Scholastic article he is described as “…refined and gentle [of] manner, the reflection of a beautiful soul” (42:319. 1908).  In 1912, Brother Gilbert (James) Horton is quoted in the Notre Dame Alumnus. “No man ever met Brother Urban who could ever forget him.  Nature and grace combined to create in him a subtle and unusual charm.  Invested with a natural dignity of attractive personal appearance, he went his way through the world, offending none, serving all, and leaving golden memories in the hearts of those who met him.”  Brother Urban was born in Ireland and entered the Brothers of Holy Cross when he was 26. He taught in schools in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois. He was appointed the first principal of St. Columbkille school in Chicago in 1886 when Edward Hoban, future Archbishop of Cleveland, enrolled in the 4th grade.  Brother Urban was considered to be a fine teacher and a very organized and dedicated school administrator.

Father James J. French, C.S.C. (1859-1941)

image1 (27)Father French was the vice-president of the University of Notre Dame from 1893-1905. And he was assistant superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross for 20 years until 1926.  He came to Notre Dame from Cincinnati, Ohio and entered the novitiate in 1878. In 1879 he witnessed the disastrous fire which completely destroyed the young University, and many hours he devoted to clearing bricks for the reconstruction of the new Main Building.  He spent his first years in the Congregation at St. Joseph College in Cincinnati where he taught all day and studied theology with Father Peter J. Hurth – who would become an archbishop – at night. Ordained in 1883, he was appointed superior of St. Joseph College for the next five years.  He was then appointed the superior of the preparatory seminary at Notre Dame. In 1893, he was appointed the Vice-President and Director of Studies at the University of Notre Dame and became known as a fine orator. In 1905, he returned to St. Joseph College as its President for one year.  In 1906, he was appointed assistant superior general and, for the second time, the superior at the preparatory seminary. It is during this time that he became known as a champion of the foreign mission apostolate. It was the General Chapter that appointed him Mission Promoter. The earliest predecessor of The Bengalese, under the name of the Bengal Witness, was published by him.  In 1912, the Mission Band of Holy Cross was reorganized to preach missions and retreats throughout the United States.  Father French was selected to establish, develop and direct the new effort. He tirelessly labored in this ministry for the next 18 years.  Because of failing health, he left the Mission Band and served as chaplain of St. Joseph Hospital in South Bend from 1931-1939 where he was beloved by thousands of the city’s sick because of his ministrations at all hours of the day and night.  Prior to his death, he resided at the community house on the campus of the University of Notre Dame. (Complied from information in “The Golden Jubilee of a Friend” The Bengalese, June 1933 [no author] and an obituary in the South Bend Tribune, March 1941)

Brother Borromeo (Thomas) Malley, C.S.C. (1913-1994)

unnamed (21)Born in 1913 in Chicago, Thomas Malley entered the Holy Cross Brothers in 1931 making final vows in 1936.  His first assignment was to take care of the power plant at Sacred Heart College in Watertown, Wisconsin. Two years later, he went to the University of Portland where he took on the role of purchasing agent.  In 1937 he was assigned to the University of Notre Dame as director of utilities for 41 years, and for nearly 50 years he was chief of the Notre Dame fire department. Father (now Bishop) Daniel Jenky gave the eulogy at his funeral mass.  Here are parts of what he said: “A ‘patriarch,’ according to the dictionary definition, could be described as ‘a venerable old man’ or ‘a revered senior member of a community’ or ‘a respected elder.’ Well, in our Holy Cross family here at Notre Dame, Brother Borromeo rather aptly and completely fulfilled this role…. He was immensely proud that he was Fire Chief for so many years.  If for 41 years Brother efficiently kept the fires burning at Notre Dame, he was equally adept for nearly 50 years in putting them out anywhere else on campus. He was given his job in 1939, and by 1940 he had built, from the chassis up, Notre Dame’s first completely motorized fire apparatus…. Brother Borromeo was a wonderful person, a good and faithful brother, a man of religious poverty, and a great friend to an awful lot of people.  Borromeo without a lot of fuss or dramatics, lived a life entirely for God and neighbor. He expressed his love and devotion to Our Lady by caring so well and so long for her school.” Father Edmund Joyce, C.S.C. gave the homily. Here is an excerpt: “My first official contact with Brother occurred in 1951 soon after I was named vice president of business affairs. Foreseeing the building boom which would soon be on, Brother Borromeo strongly urged that we utilize our excess steam capacity to generate our own electricity.  While this required a large capital expense to get started, image2 (3)we did indeed save millions of dollars by generating our own electrical power…. I had hundreds of business contacts with Brother Borromeo over the next three decades and was continually impressed with his common sense, his rare ability to deal with architects, engineers, contractors, fire chiefs and other professionals on a friendly but business-like basis.” In an article printed in “It’s Notre Dame Fact…” by Phil Loranger, he wrote: “[Brother Borromeo] became only the third man since 1870 to hold the title of director of utilities, a post that made him manager of the tiny, ill-equipped university rail system [ND & W Railroad].  In his nearly 60 years as head of the line, Borromeo never missed the opportunity to improve the track, cars or equipment. The 65-ton, 400-horsepower diesel engine No. 5332, still resplendent in its blue and gold colors, was his proudest contribution…. [T]here was a time when the ND & W had tracks that led to the old ice house and the university stock pens where hogs and steers were unloaded. During World War II, military trains were a common sight on the tracks and until 1962, when the last passenger trains brought Fighting Irish fans to the campus for drop off, as many as five trains would be birthed on the tracks. It was Borromeo and his staff who would lay out more than 5,000 yards of hose to provide water and fuel for the steam and diesel engines while the passengers watched the Irish football team play in the stadium.”  “For all of his consummate professionalism in his duties at the university what Brother Borromeo will be remembered for by most of us was that he was first and foremost a true religious—faithful to his God and his vows” (Father Joyce).

Father Michael A. Mathis, C.S.C. (1885-1960)

image1 (26).jpgBorn in South Bend, Michael Mathis entered Holy Cross in 1901 and was ordained in 1921.  In 1920, he received a doctorate in Holy Scripture form Catholic University. It was about this time that he became interested in the Holy Cross foreign missions and began his plans for a new seminary in Washington, D.C. which would train men especially for India.  In 1924, he became the first superior of the Foreign Mission Seminary, and he also inaugurated The Bengalese, a magazine specially interested in promoting Holy Cross foreign mission.  Simultaneously, he became a co-founder, together with Dr. Anna Dengle, of women’s religious organization, the Medical Missionaries, whose object was to spread the Catholic religion among the poor and sick women of India.  In 1939, he became a faculty member at Notre Dame, and two years was appointed chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital until retirement in 1959. He was considered by all to be a wonderful chaplain.

Sister ​M. Agatha Ann (Mary Agatha) Farrell, C.S.C. 1923-2019

image1 (28)Three days before her 21st birthday, Mary Agatha Farrell applied to the Sisters of the Holy Cross.  She was a civil service secretary working for the War Department in Los Angeles, California, in the last year of World War II. In response to a question about her motivation “for leaving the world,” she replied only, “I feel I have a vocation.”  In 2001, she was less cryptic filling out another form, this time explaining why she wanted to apply for a sabbatical for spiritual renewal: “After 56 years as a Sister of the Holy Cross, having worked every year in a school, hospital, or parish, this opportunity would be a ‘first.’” As Sister M. Agatha Ann, she began her ministry in 1947 in elementary education in Catholic parochial schools throughout California and Utah, moving from the classroom to the principal’s office. From 1970 to 1975, while serving as principal, she earned her California license to direct day care-nursery schools. From 1975 to 1977, Sister Agatha Ann was director of personnel in the Department of Education for the Archdiocese of San Francisco. During those years she also worked in special education in public schools in the Daly City School District. Anyone who saw her doing business over the phone would have thought it all looked easy as she spoke with a broad smile. She had wonderful organizational skills, enjoyed being with people and was a good listener. It’s no wonder that Sister Agatha Ann transitioned to pastoral care in 1977 at Holy Cross Hospital, Salt Lake City, Utah. Though she was there only a year, she returned to pastoral care and chaplaincy from 1991 to 1999 at Providence St. Elizabeth Care Center, North Hollywood, California.  In the intervening years, from 1978 to 1990, Sister Agatha Ann ministered in several parishes working with the elderly in Southern California and in the Seattle area. Sister Agatha Ann was also a religious superior in her Congregation but was unpretentious in the role, whether as a local convent superior, a postulant formation assistant or regional councilor. Many times, she was also filling other positions beyond the local convent. At the time of Pope John Paul II’s visit to the United States in 1987, she was asked by a reporter in Tenino, Washington, about priestly ordination for women. She was never known as a firebrand, but with a shrug, she reluctantly offered the following viewpoint to The Olympian: “Here at St. Peter’s Mission, we minister as best we can as a group of women in the church. We can do that in so many ways. I would have no objection to women being ordained nor would I have any objection to a married clergy.” Sister retired first to Saint Catherine by the Sea Convent, Ventura, California in 2002, moving in 2011 to Saint Mary’s Convent, Notre Dame, Indiana, where she died. Her older sister, Sister Estelle Marie (Farrell), survives her at Saint Mary’s. Their fine Catholic parents, Louisa Hutson and Jeremiah Farrell, raised seven children in Los Angeles at Saint Agnes Parish, where they were taught by Holy Cross sisters. (Written by ​Sister Catherine Osimo, CSC.)