0213-patrick-ellisGiven by
Br. Emery Mollenhauer, FSC

It is our entrances and exits that attract fierce attention.  With Brother Patrick Ellis, we have a cornucopia of accomplishments, lasting memories of the precious, the incommunicable past,
and of the makings of a legend.  We gather this evening to recall this very able, talented, kind man, especially as the man who was a wonderful teacher and who, particularly in his role as President here, orchestrated the direction of La Salle College and University for fifteen years.  To focus our limited time, I will center my remarks on Pat’s life and the making of his legend, especially as president here.

Eldest of the four children of Elizabeth Everett and Harry James Ellis, Pat or Jimmy lived his first seventeen years in the Hamden section of Baltimore.  His precociousness emerged early; for example, in the fifth grade he allowed himself to offer unsolicited corrections to his School Sister of Notre Dame teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas School.  With the bonus of a scholarship, he later attended our Calvert Hall College High School which his father had also attended.  Besides being active in drama and debate, he garnered the graduation prize for physics, “mind you’.  Then, HJ Ellis became Brother Felician Patrick, and in 1951, graduated “summa cum laude” and Phi Beta Kappa from the Catholic University of America.

With consummate distinction, Pat then taught seven years at West Catholic High School, an interlude that he cherished throughout his life.  After receiving the Master’s and Doctorate from The University of Pennsylvania, he had a year of Lasallian studies at our Motherhouse in Rome, Italy.  In 1960, he began his collegiate career here, and within a couple of years was awarded the then recently inaugurated Lindback Award for distinguished teaching and became our first Honors Program Director.  For two years in the early 60’s, he interrupted his life here to serve as Principal and Director of the high school in Miami for Cuban refugees.

His obvious talents, which were never veiled and were further unfurled, served very well when he became Director of Development, or, as he put it, “official beggar”.  These successful experiences and his native savoir faire led with almost mathematical inevitability to his becoming the twenty-sixth president of the then La Salle College in January, 1977.  Like his ready tongue and vivid language, Pat’s administrative ability and energy constitute the staple of myth.  While leading the then college into university status, he regularly responded to mail with awesome dispatch.  Though I have tried to avoid begin romantically inclusive, I might recall also that the Connelly Library, new resident halls, the Belfield property, including the President’s house, and an additional forty acres were added to our array of assets in those years.  Amid the weighty matters he attended to, he found the time through his Christmas card sketches to relate the story of Christmas to his apostolate.

In 1992, Pat left La Salle for the exceptional honor of becoming the President of the Catholic University of America.  For many years in its educational, business, and civic orbits, he never merely “swelled the crowd”.  Whatever he participated in, he helped run.  Then, in 1998, Pat decided to return to Baltimore, the home of his “next of kin” as he put it when referring to his beloved mother.  For five years, at the turn of the century, he then served as Director of Development for the District of Baltimore.  As a result of a virus almost five years ago, he moved from Baltimore to our convalescent center in Lincroft, New Jersey, where, confined to a wheelchair, he died rather suddenly nine days ago.

Stunning though his active life was, for most of us, it was the blizzard of his rhetoric that captivated.  His style could mesmerize, so that occasionally the sparkle eclipsed the substance.  Even in the parody which spatters some of my lines here, the allusiveness, the metaphors, and the coding, could beguile.

Although “rickshaw wages” served his personal needs, Pat moved easily among “corporate types.”  Often there were “good mingles” even though “every mendicant in town” was there.  Yet, after barreling his Caprice through “arteries and capillaries,” he would “by way of exception” look forward to testing his “absorptive powers” and to enjoying a “smidgeon of dessert.”  Never dull, Pat was at home with those “IQ’s off the graph,” as well as with “dim bulbs.”

Yet, it is not so much his distinguished accomplishments that we are thankful to the Lord for, it is his leadership style, his rhetoric, and the authenticity of Christian Brotherhood which our memories will retain . . . (and that includes his being one of the performers many years ago in the Masque’s “Knickerbocker Holiday.”  Incidentally, a number of Board members came to hear him sing, “I Am the One Indispensable Man.”)

He was a leader who very much encouraged harmony, a man of creative instincts, unembarrassed in extending his hand to beg money or his arm to attract a good student, and a man who was an advocate for and influence in Catholic education, and who also was a forceful presence on Boards of Trustees and accreditation associations.  At the same time, his manner could disarm.  How many university presidents are there who can make official occasions chummier through their baritone regaling of audience with a repertoire that included the National Anthem, operatic arias, and more folksy tunes, such as “Who Threw the Overalls in Mrs. Murphy’s Chowder.”

We gather here tonight, then, to celebrate and to thank the Lord for having had Pat in our lives.  That did make a difference.  He was an authentic Christian, Christian Brother, civic leader, family, and community man.  A truly great man, he left the vivid air signed with his honor.

Surely, we now have an especially effective advocate in the paradise hereafter.

May he rest in peace.


Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of
Br. Patrick Ellis, FSC

Born Harry James Ellis, Jr. in Baltimore, MD, on November 17, 1928

Entered the Ammendale, MD, Novitiate on June 12, 1946

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Felician Patrick, on September 7, 1946

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Ocean City, NJ on August 28, 1953.

Br. Patrick died at De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ, on February 21, 2013


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Viewing from 2:00 – 4:00 pm

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

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Viewing in the De La Salle Chapel
from 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Mass of Christian Burial at 8:00 pm

La Salle University
1900 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19141-1199

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Viewing from 10:00 – 11:30 am
Prayer Service in the Chapel at 11:30 am

La Salle Hall
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville, MD 20705-1202

Followed by burial in the Brothers’ cemetery Luncheon to follow


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

Brother Patrick died peacefully at De La Salle Hall after a brief illness. May he rest in peace.


Washington, D.C.
De La Salle College

Philadelphia, PA
West Catholic Boys H S

second novitiate

Philadelphia, PA
West Catholic Boys H S

assistant professor
Philadelphia, PA
La Salle College

Miami, FL
La Salle – Immaculata H S

Philadelphia, PA
La Salle University

professor and director of development
Philadelphia, PA
La Salle University

Philadelphia, PA
La Salle University

Washington, D.C.
The Catholic University of America

Baltimore, MD
Calvert Hall residence

District director of development
Baltimore, MD
Calvert Hall residence

Baltimore, MD
Calvert Hall residence

Lincroft, NJ
De La Salle Hall


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