Homily on the occasion of the Mass of Christian Burial for Brother Robert Fagan, FSC


RobertFaganDeacon Joseph Prioli, Homilist


We had basketball here last night. The game went on, the game goes on, even though a very important part of our sports program was absent, for maybe the first time in eighteen years.


Brother Robert wouldn’t have it any other way.

He is a man who loved life, as a precious gift from a loving God. He had, it turns out, not quite sixtyfour years to enjoy this life, and to bear fruit for God’s kingdom. He used that time well.

His published obituary says it better than I could:

Brother Robert spent endless time in service to students and faculty at Christian Brothers Academy who needed some physical help. More than that, his personal charisma gave a lift to his patients so that Br. Robert left them cheered in body and mind. He will be remembered as a fine friend to all his grateful patients.

And so we miss him. And we will miss him time and again as we go on. And his death affects us… we have known so much loss, especially in the last year or so. But we believe that “all the ties of love and affection that bind as as one in this life, do not unravel with death.” We believe that every loss we suffer in God’s Name and under His love, will be restored to us.

This is the hope and promise that we live under as Christians. This is the great
comfort of our Catholic Faith. That this life, as good as it is, is only part of what our
God has planned for us.

Our “Dove” has flown home, called by the Father to the place prepared for him. We, too, are called. We are called to honor Robert’s memory. We are called to pray for him. We are called to live faithfully: to enjoy God’s gifts in this world, and to build up God’s kingdom within ourselves, and in our community.

We remember his bike, his Yankees hat, his sunglasses. We remember his calm
confidence, his focused care of our athletes, and his enthusiastic support for our
teams. We remember a colleague, a dear friend, a Brother.

And we remember that all of this is lived and done in God’s Name, and in His Holy Presence.


Eulogy given by Br. Robert Bimonte, FSC

Robert Michael Fagan:
• athlete trainer and exercise fanatic,
• lover of country music,
• biologist, nature lover and bird watcher
• huge fan of science fiction and horror films,
• a man of genuine faith but a questioner of ecclesial norms and personnel


Robert Richard Bimonte:
• can just about lift a five pound weight on a good day,
• prefers the Metropolitan Opera to the Grand ol’ Opry,
• failed biology–- and would rather watch paint dry than to stand in the woods for hours on end looking for a red crested chickadee,
• can’t stand science fiction or horror films,
• and the one thing that my good friend could never fathom — educational adviser to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

To most people, it would seem that the only thing we had in common was our first name. Indeed, if anyone needs proof of the old adage that “Opposites attract” – you’re looking at it!

Opposites indeed, but somehow or other, from the day I arrived at the Brothers Residence at Good Shepherd in upper Manhattan, a bond was formed between these two Roberts that turned into the most wonderful friendship that lasted thirty-three years.

When these two opposites first met, Rob was teaching 5th grade at Good Shepherd School in upper Manhattan. He was one of four fifth grade teachers in the school – and fourth grade parents fought, even offered bribes – to get their children into Rob’s class because he was without a doubt, the most creative teacher in the school.

Over the past twenty years, I have observed teachers coast-to-coast, and I can tell you unequivocally, that Robert Fagan is and was one of the finest teachers I have ever seen. And that is not the bias of friendship talking! He implemented every current educational theory – hands-on instruction, differentiated learning, backward design – before they even had names. He was an amazing teacher who knew what kids needed and spent untold hours preparing and preparing and preparing to ensure that his students would have the very best educational experience and develop a life-long love of learning – just like their teacher. He never stopped learning! And he made an indelible impression on his students who would return years after graduating to let him know that they never forgot what he taught them.

In community, he was the voice of reason, the leader of the charge when work needed to be done, and a wonderful storyteller who night after night would delight us at dinner with the antics of his students – whom he lovingly called Bobby’s Bozo’s – and Bozettes!

Back in the 70’s, Good Shepherd was a unique and wonderful place. Our community was made up of only young Brothers; I think the oldest person was 35. So, this was where the New York District would place its aspirants and postulants for their initial community experience. And it was here that I and many other young Brothers (besides myself) discovered a friend, a role model and a mentor in Robert Fagan.

He intuitively knew that we were anxious, full of questions and trying hard to hide our inexperience. Rather than assuming the role of “older brother” with all of the answers, Rob treated each and every one of us as equals and accepted us just as we were. We didn’t have to jump through any formation hoops or meet any arbitrary bench marks; Rob accepted us and yes, loved us – just as we were. If I had to name the one trait I most admired in him it was precisely that: he accepted everyone and judged no one.

Caring about people – both young and old — just came naturally to him. Whether it was an awkward fifth grader on the verge of adolescence, an uncertain young Brother, his own aging parents whom he took such good care of, or the Brothers at De La Salle Hall – Rob reached out and cared for all of them with the utmost respect. He never made anyone feel “less than.” After spending time with him, people walked taller, felt better about themselves and knew that they had been in the presence of a great and holy man. I know that was the experience of the Brothers at De La Salle Hall who looked forward to his visits, and I am sure the same is true for the student athletes he worked with each day here at CBA.

Robert Fagan was a quiet man, an intensely private person – but for those of us who were fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the person behind that façade, we saw the most beautiful human being. We all know that he was not someone who could easily express affection, but if he let you in even a crack, you knew – beyond the shadow of a doubt – that he would care about you forever. And you knew you were in if you had a nickname. He loved to give nicknames – and he had the uncanny ability to bestow nicknames that hit the mark. Some people had multiple nicknames, but one person in his life had one and only one very important nickname, and that was “Big Brother.” Gabe, he so admired you and your accomplishments and held you in the highest regard. His eyes lit up whenever he spoke to me about you: “My ‘Big Brother’ with the Ph.D.” He loved you deeply – even if he could never say the words.

If my good friend Robert Fagan had one flaw, it was his inability to accept compliments or allow people to tell him how good he was or how much he meant to them. I tried for thirty three years, and every time I’d start, he would just talk over me and say “yeah, yeah yeah,” and change the subject.

If I have any consolation today, it’s that I can finally tell him and this time, get to the period without interruption.

Rob, you gave me the greatest gift that any human being can give to another person. You believed in me and you taught me to hold on to my dreams. I would never be where I am today if it weren’t for you. Thank you for your steadfast encouragement. Thank you for giving me so many memories of the great fun we had together. Most importantly, thank you for letting me in – letting me see and experience and enjoy the most remarkable person I have ever known.

Thank you for touching mine and countless other hearts with your gentleness and love. Thank you for being my Brother

Rest in peace, my friend. Your race is won.

Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of
Br. Robert Fagan, FSC

Born Robert Michael Fagan on July 10, 1946

Entered the Barrytown Juniorate in June, 1960, and Novitiate in June, 1964

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Robert Keith on September 1, 1964

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in New York, in 1978.

Brother Robert died at Riverview Hospital in Red Bank, NJ on January 13, 2010


Friday, January 15, 2010

Viewing from 12:00 – 8:00 pm
Christian Brothers Academy
Brothers Residence Chapel
854 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1698

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Viewing from 12:00 – 8:00 pm
Alumni Hall
Christian Brothers Academy
850 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1698

Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am
McKay Gymnasium



District: 50 masses
Christian Brothers Academy community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass

Brother Robert is the brother of Brother Gabriel Fagan, FSC of the St. Mutien community at La Salle University in Philadelphia, PA.
Brother Robert passed away at Riverview Hospital in Red Bank, NJ after a short illness. May he rest in peace.

Tour of Duty

New York, NY
Good Shepherd School

study at Univ. of Minnesota
Winona, MN
St. Mary’s College (residence)

Athletic Trainer
Lincroft, NJ
Christian Brothers Academy

May the soul of Brother Robert, and all the souls of the faithful departed, rest in peace.