Eulogy given by
Br. James Wallace, FSC
On behalf of the De La Salle Christian Brothers and Brother Christopher’s family especially Joe and Irene Kuntz, Bernadette Kuntz, Maire Kilcoyne, Don and Anne De Napoli, I extend a sincere thank you to Father Schweigart and Fr Young. for being with us today and for leading us in the celebration of Br. Christopher’s life.
Brother Christopher loved a celebration! Whether it was a gathering of the Dardis clan, celebrating a Brother’s birthday or celebrating a significant Lasallian feast day, Chris just loved to celebrate. Essentially he was a rather quiet man. He didn’t draw attention to himself but he loved to be with people.
Some people think of life itself as a big celebration. God creates us so that He can share His love with each of us in a celebration of life. Sometimes the celebration is cut short and sometimes it seems to go on for a very long time. But God has invited all of us to the celebration of life by creating us. He wants us to enjoy every moment of this celebration by sharing our love with others. In this way we prepare ourselves for the final part of our celebration, being with Him in Heaven.
It was probably a chilly mid-October day in 1919 when Christopher Dardis Sr. got home from work in New York City to have his wife Julia present him with a son, their second, whom they called Donald Christopher. Church bells didn’t ring that day but you can well imagine the number of sidecar toasts that were made and the big dinner that the relatives and friends put together to celebrate the arrival of this new-born son. This was young Christopher’s initiation into the world of celebration in the tradition of the Dardis family. Chris went on to celebrate life for 92 ½ years.
In the course of time, young Christopher decided to share the gift of love that God had bestowed on him by becoming a De La Salle Christian Brother, devoting his life to teaching young people. Beginning in 1940, he spent some thirty years teaching high school students at CBA, Albany, St. Augustine’s, Brooklyn, and Cardinal Spellman, New York; as well as serving as principal of St. Nicholas of Tolentine in the Bronx and St. Joseph’s in West New York, New Jersey, and as Supervisor of Lasallian Schools in the District of New York. As if these responsibilities were not enough to keep him busy, Bro. Christopher also taught Driver Education and coached the varsity baseball and football teams.
In 1970, he joined the faculty of Manhattan College as a teacher and Director of Graduate Education. It was that same year, 1970, that Bro. Christopher made one of his greatest contributions to Manhattan College: He hired Pat Crimmins who began as an office worker, served as Bro. Christopher’s secretary, and now 42 years later serves as the secretary to the Vice Presidents for Finance and Facilities Management. Bro. Christopher went on to spend thirty-three years here at Manhattan, serving as Chair of the Department of Education, teaching, and heading up the Center for Teaching where he mentored faculty who were new to the College. All told, Br. Christopher spent over 60 years as a high school teacher, school administrator, college professor and college department chair.
As most of you know, we have 930 Lasallian schools in 82 countries including some on each of six continents. For all Lasallian schools, we have six characteristics or qualities that should be evident. One is RESPECT FOR EACH STUDENT AS AN INDIVIDUAL. Such respect includes a concern for spiritual needs; it also includes a concern for academic needs.
Br. Christopher often said that if De La Salle were alive today, he would be a strong advocate of teachers adapting to student academic needs by teaching to learning styles. Each month he would share with me a journal he subscribed to called “College Teaching” which regularly included articles and essays on topics such as cooperative learning, teaching non-linear visual learners, and how to support kinesthetic learners in the classroom. As Bro. Christopher used to say, “If students do not learn the way we teach them, then we must teach them the way they learn.” Such teaching would include a variety of instructional approaches that would accommodate students with different learning preferences.
Br. Christopher was a great Brother. He was a man of prayer, a dedicated teacher, one who found joy in helping others. He was, in the words of Br. Henry Chaya – now teaching at Bethlehem University in Palestine – “a kind gentleman, a good friend, and an inspiration to me in dealing with my vision problems.” Br. John Guasconi, formerly of Manhattan College, puts it this way: “Br. Christopher was a role model for me: energetic, involved, open to listening, prayer-filled, loyal to family and friends.” To Bro. Ralph Bucci, currently at La Salle University in Philadelphia, Br. Christopher was “a spirited, energetic Brother – even into his 93rd year. He lived a long life and contributed to the life of the Brothers in innumerable ways. I am privileged to have lived with him.”
In 2005, Br. Christopher wrote to me in South Africa that he had a recently deceased relative whose will stated that Bro. Christopher was to receive a certain percentage of money that was left over in his account. “If I can procure permission from the Br. Provincial to send some money to you in Johannesburg,” he asked me, “could La Salle College use it for something special?” It so happened that at the time, a group of students and faculty wished to start a small band but the school could not afford the instruments nor the salary of a band director. Br. Christopher’s offer was most certainly providential. Two months later, the small band performed the first of many concerts and became the second Lasallian school in Africa to have a school band, the first being St. Joseph School in Addis Ababa. So … if any of you here now visit Johannesburg, be sure to let La Salle College know ahead of time so they can schedule a concert while you are there.
At 5:15 AM last Friday, March 23, the church bells did not ring. In fact, the beeping and the clanging of the machines around Bro. Christopher’s bed at De la Salle Hall went silent. However, the celebration in Heaven at that moment was extraordinary. Brother Christopher Dardis had begun the biggest celebration he’d ever experienced. There were his parents Julia and Christopher, St. John Baptist de La Salle, Brothers Luke Salm, Christian Hynes, Joseph Murphy, Austin Barry, Timothy Burris, and so many other De La Salle Brothers who went before him. There may not have been any sidecars but who needed them when God stretched out His hand and said: “Welcome home, Br. Christopher Dardis. Thank you for a job well done. Now enjoy the Kingdom of Heaven for all eternity!”
Br. Christopher, we don’t say goodbye today. We say thank you for letting us be a part of your celebration for 92 ½ years. And we thank God for allowing us to share you with Him.
Br. Christopher, your life has given enormous honor to God, to St. La Salle and to our Institute. May you rest in peace, AMEN.
LIVE JESUS IN OUR HEARTS
Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of
Br. Christopher Dardis, FSC
Born Donald Christopher Dardis in New York City, NY on October 15, 1919
Entered the Barrytown Juniorate on June 28, 1933, and Novitiate on June 26, 1936
Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Christopher Victor, on September 7, 1936
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Oakdale, Long Island, NY in 1944
Brother Christopher died at de La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ, on March 23, 2012
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Viewing from 1:30 – 3:00 pm
De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1608
Monday, March 26, 2012
Viewing from 3:00 – 5:00 pm and 7:00 – 9:00 pm
Chapel of St. Benildus
Christian Brothers Center
4415 Post Road
Bronx, NY 10471-3499
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am
Burial at Gate of Heaven Cemetery (Christian Brothers’ Plot)
SUFFRAGES FOR OUR DECEASED BROTHER CHRISTOPHER
District: 100 masses
De La Salle Hall community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass
Brother Christopher died peacefully at De La Salle Hall after a brief illness. May he rest in peace.
Tour of Duty
Christian Brothers Academy
St. Augustine School
director and teacher
St. Nicholas of Tolentine School
West New York, NJ
St. Joseph of the Palisades School
New York, NY
Cardinal Spellman H S
consultant for Archdiocese of NY
community Supervisor of Schools
director of Department of Education
De La Salle Hall