Brother Bernard Knezich, FSC0713-bernard-knezich


Eulogy given by Br. Joseph Schafer, FSC

Father Toole, Edith, relatives, friends and former students of Brother Bernard, and my fellow Christian Brothers, it is an honor and a privilege for me to share a few thoughts on the life of our beloved Brother Bernard Knezich.

I have chosen the theme of life’s journey to describe Bernard. We all know that he loved to travel but that is not the journey I am talking about here. We will trace a bit of Bernard’s journey as he followed his vocation as a De La Salle Christian Brother as a teacher, missionary, development director, community director, film critic, and devoted friend to so many people.

Bernard’s journey began in Amsterdam, NY, as the second youngest of nine children. He remained devoted to his family his whole life and visited his older brothers and sisters when they were infirm and helped to decorate their graves each May. Jimmy K, as some called him, could dance and carry a tune, but a life in show business was not his calling. God had other plans for him. He joined the US Army and did his military service. His Army chaplain had a brother who was a Christian Brother, and this led Jimmy to the Novitiate in Barrytown, NY, where he was given the name Brother Bernard Loreto. Bernard then journeyed to Catholic University in Washington, DC, to earn a degree in English literature.
Bernard’s journey then led him to his beloved classroom where he distinguished himself as a creative teacher. La Salle Academy, Second Street, La Salle Institute, Troy, St. Joseph School, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Bethlehem University in Palestine, Christian Brothers Academy, Albany, and finally back to La Salle Institute, Troy, were the many places where he journeyed. He loved to be in the classroom, and I often suspected that he saw it as his “stage” where he performed his teaching. Gregarious by nature, Bernard made friends wherever he went. He not only made friends, but he also kept them. How many of us here received birthday cards, Christmas cards, get well cards, and especially post cards, from the many places that he travelled?

Bethlehem University held a special place in his heart. Working in fund raising for the university was one of the few times he was not in the classroom. Bernard loved being in the Holy Land and delighted in helping to decorate the Brothers’ house there, and he did the same at Second Street, Addis Ababa, CBA and La Salle Institute. The Brothers in Bethlehem enjoyed teasing Bernard about the trip they made with him to Beersheba. He must have looked suspicious to the Israeli guards (or maybe it was his metal hips which set off the metal detector), but they led him to a booth where he was strip-searched. Of course the story has been embellished over time, but if the Brothers wanted to get a reaction from Bernard, all they had to do was offer him a return trip to Beersheba.

In 1979 Bernard and I were together at La Salle, Second Street. That was the year he celebrated his 25th Anniversary as a Christian Brother. He asked me to be in charge of his celebration. Of course that meant that he was in charge and I did what he told me to do. It was a fine day with a beautiful Mass and dinner. Later that night, Bernard, Steve McCabe and I sat down with a nightcap to discuss the day. Steve announced that he had the “quote of the day.” As people were coming into the church before the Mass began, Bernard had Brother Eugene O’Gara play a selection of his favorite Broadway show tunes on the organ. Steve McCabe reported that he heard Brother Stephen Sullivan, President of Manhattan College, who was sitting behind him, blurt out “My God … I Gotta Be Me!!!”

Yes, we all recognize that Bernard was unique. He had a zest for life and he lived it to the full. On his life journey, he encouraged others to do the same, his family, his confreres, his students and his former students. The last trip Bernard and I took together was from here in Troy to visit the Brothers in Buffalo. Of course, when you go to Buffalo, you visit Niagara Falls. Imagine, world traveler that he was, Bernard had never been to the Falls before. When we got there, one of the first things he did was pull out his cell phone and call his sister Edith. “Edith, guess where I am! Niagara Falls! He had to share his joy with his sister.

Having known Bernard all of these years, I still have some questions:

Where did he get the eye for tasteful decorating? Whether it was a whole house or just a dining room table for a birthday, he did a great job.

How did he learn about picture framing? Every house he has ever lived in still has pictures that he framed. A few years ago he read Henri Nouwen’s book where Henri describes seeing the famous painting of the prodigal son. Bernard had to have a copy and the final result proved too big for his room, so it now hangs in the Brothers’ chapel here in Troy.

How did he get himself appointed as film critic for the Legion of Decency in New York? Of course, this meant free tickets and private screenings to almost all the new movies. I guess we will all have to wait for the answers to these questions.

Brother John Gavin, a good friend of Bernard, told me that Bernard said just recently that his travelling days were over. He was wrong, for on Sunday Bernard made his last journey home to God, to be with Jesus, his family and his Brothers and friends.

Rest in Peace, Bernard, and may Jesus live in your heart forever!

Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of Br. Bernard Knezich, FSC

Born James Francis Knezich in Syracuse, NY, on January 3, 1930

Entered the Barrytown, NY, Novitiate on February 14, 1954

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Bernard Loreto, on May 14, 1954

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Barrytown, NY, in 1960

Br. Bernard died in the Brothers’ Community at La Salle Institute, Troy, NY, on July 7, 2013


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Viewing from 4:00 – 7:00 pm

La Salle Institute School Chapel
174 Williams Road
Troy, NY 12180

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mass of Christian Burial at 10:00 am

St. Michael Church
175 Williams Road
Troy, NY 12180
(directly across the street from La Salle Institute)

followed by burial at St. Agnes Cemetery,
Menands, NY (Brothers’ section)


District: 50 masses
La Salle Institute community: 
30 masses
Each community in the District: 
1 mass


New York, NY
La Salle Academy

Troy, NY
La Salle Institute

Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA
St. Joseph School

renewal (Fall session)
Santa Fe, NM
Sangre de Cristo Center

New York, NY
La Salle Academy

teacher and director
New York, NY
La Salle Academy

Bethlehem, PALESTINE
Bethlehem University

faculty and director
Bethlehem, PALESTINE
Bethlehem University

teacher and director
Albany, NY
Christian Brothers Academy

Troy, NY
La Salle Institute

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