1112-gabriel-healyEulogy by Charlie Hayes

I have to start by saying how humbled I am to have been asked by Brother Bud to say a few words about our friend, brother, brother-in-law, uncle, and great uncle, Brother Gabriel Healy. There are many people in this room who knew him a lot longer than I did. Right now I can imagine Gabe looking down and saying, “Don’t worry about how they knew me. Talk about how you knew me.” So, let me do that.

By the time I met Gabe in the fall of 1977, he had been educated by:

  • St. Jerome’s in the Bronx—1934-1942
  • St. Joseph’s in Barrytown—1943-1946 Religious Habit—took the name Andrian Gabriel
  • Catholic University—1947-1950
  • Manhattan College—1950-1952, BA Degree
  • St. John’s University—1952-1956, MA Latin
  • Manhattan College—1970, MA Theology
  • And the Chicago Theological Institute—1986-1987

No wonder he was so smart!

He began his teaching and administrative career at:

  • Ascension School, New York—1950-1957
  • St. Joseph’s of the Palisades—1958-1964
  • Cardinal Spellman—1964-1967
  • Manhattan College—1968
  • Christian Brothers Academy, Albany—1969-1973
  • Sacred Heart, Yonkers—1973-1977

That brings us to September of 1977, when I had the very good fortune to cross paths with Brother Gabe here at CBA, Lincroft.

He was 48 at the time, and he had more energy than most of us students. I was a 17 year old junior, and I remember thinking about Gabe when I met him, “This guy is different.” He was Assistant Principal in charge of students, which meant, of course, that he was the guy you had to go see when you got in trouble. He was great at that job, not because he scared the hell out of you once you were in trouble. He did do that. But because, he somehow intuitively knew when a kid was drifting toward trouble. He would be there to guide him back onto the right path.

At some point in the middle of my senior year, after we’d known each other for a while, he stopped me one morning in the hall as I was once again hurrying to make the homeroom bell. “Charlie, you shouldn’t always be cutting it so close,” he said as we were passing each other. I said, “Ok, Brother, but you know I’ve never missed a day of school here.” He stopped me, got right up close, and looked me right in the eyes in that way that he would and said, “Your mother is very worried about you.” I didn’t know it at the time but Brother Gabe, my mother, and I would end up having something in common.

Coincidentally, Brother Gabe and I ended up leaving CBA, Lincroft, around the same time. He went to Blessed Sacrament for a year, and then was back and forth between Manhattan College and CBA, Lincroft, with high level administrative jobs, including the role of Auxiliary Visitor, and Director of Formation for the La Salle Provincialate here in Lincroft from 1990 to 1996.

It was during this time that Gabe began to get more active as a retreat leader, which was another thing he was great at. I was privileged to attend a few retreats led by Brother Gabe over the years, including one in the spring of 1979 when I was a senior here at CBA. If I’m not mistaken, it was Brother Gabe who initiated the senior retreat program here that still exists almost 35 years later.

I went to college, got a job in New York, and got married in 1986. In 1989 I reached a low point in my life both personally and professionally. A year later in 1990, our paths crossed again, and that’s when I began really to get to know Gabe.

We bumped into each other at a meeting of the fellowship of which we were both members. Although it had been eleven years since I’d last seen him, it was as if our relationship had not been interrupted. We made arrangements to see each other again, and soon I began picking him up at his Fleming Hall office here on the campus, and taking him to a lunch time meeting of our fellowship over in the Highlands. We did that at least once a week for over a year, and it was during those car rides that Brother Gabe helped save my life.

I had wrecked my marriage, jeopardized my job, and was on the verge of being financially and spiritually bankrupt. At a time when I was tender and fragile, Brother Gabe was my shelter in a storm. He would patiently listen to my endless questions and my frustration that all my problems were not being solved overnight. On more than one occasion he would say to me, “Charlie, as long as you are in the process of making yourself available for God’s presence, underneath all that chaos in your life is a steady current of your getting better.” And I believed him.

Less than two years later, my wife and I got back together after a two year separation. A year and a half later, the first of our three blessedly healthy children was born. Today we are a happy, healthy family, grounded in faith—a faith imparted to us by Brother Gabe. Who knows what kind of path I might have gone down had Brother Gabe not been there back in the early ‘90’s to guide me back to the right path. And I am just one of hundreds of lives that were touched and helped by Gabe.

In the years that followed our reconnection, we continued to see each other, although, gradually, not as often. When Gabe moved here from Manhattan College in 2006, we started to see each other more often again. During my visits with him here, I got to see how loved he was, not only by his fellow residents, but also by the staff here at De La Salle Hall. From the custodial staff to the CNA’s, and the nurses, to the kitchen staff and social coordinators, right up to the Directors, this place is tremendous. The sincere interest and genuine compassion in the care that is given here are wonderful.

During that time, I also got to meet Gabe’s sister Mary, her husband Frank, and some of their kids. I learned what a great brother, brother-in-law, and uncle that Gabe was. In fact, a few months ago, in the middle of August, I came to visit on a day when Mary and Frank had come down from Albany with their daughters, Emily and Bernadette. The staff was having a barbeque picnic outside, under the tent here, and it was a beautiful summer day. My son Michael and I had the honor of sitting with Gabe and his family. It happened to the day before Gabe’s 83rd birthday. I sat and listened to Gabe’s nieces tell stories about how Uncle Gabe used to gather up all the kids and take them on day trips and what fun they had. As the stories kept flowing, I watched Gabe smile as he looked around at his family. He was so happy that day! That’s how I like to remember him.

Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of
Br. Gabriel Healy, FSC

Born James Edward Healy in New York City, NY, on August 16, 1929

Entered the Barrytown Juniorate on June 30, 1943, and Novitiate on June 29, 1946

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Andrian Gabriel, on September 7, 1946

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Oakdale, Long Island, NY, in 1954

Brother Gabriel died at De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ, on November 30, 2012


Saturday, December 8, 2012

Viewing from 9:00 – 11:00 am
Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 am

De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1608

Burial at St. Gabriel’s Cemetery, Marlboro, NJ
Lunch to follow at De La Salle Hall


District: 100 masses
De La Salle Hall community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass

Brother Gabriel died peacefully after several days in palliative care at De La Salle Hall. May he rest in peace.

Tour of Duty

New York, NY
Ascension School

New York, NY
Good Shepherd School

West New York, NJ
St. Joseph of the Palisades High School

New York, NY
Cardinal Spellman High School

theology studies
Bronx, NY
Manhattan College

Albany, NY
Christian Brothers Academy

Yonkers, NY
Sacred Heart High School

assistant principal
Lincroft, NJ
Christian Brothers Academy

formation program
Staten Island, NY
Blessed Sacrament

campus minister
Bronx, NY
Manhattan College

auxiliary visitor, director of formation
Lincroft, NJ
La Salle Provincialate

retreat work
Bronx, NY
Christian Brothers Center

community director
Lincroft, NJ
Christian Brothers Academy

retreat work
Bronx, NY
Manhattan College

recuperation / retired
Lincroft, NJ
De La Salle Hall

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