Br. Michael O'Reilly


Given by Brother Dominic Viggiani, FSC
October 1, 2013
Mass of Christian Burial
La Salle Manor, Scarborough, Ontario CANADA

“For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.”

When Daniel O’Reilly was born in Eganville, Ontario, in 1915, the world was engulfed in the Great War, begun only a year before. This year would see Canadian troops at Vimy Ridge and Ypres, in what would be defining moments for our nation. By the time Daniel left God’s country to join the junior novitiate in Aurora, the world had already changed much. The Great Depression was at its peak; Mackenzie King was elected to his first term of office; Pius XI was Pope; and fascism was taking hold of much of Europe. It was at this time that young Daniel would decide to commit himself to the life of a Brother of the Christian Schools, a life dedicated
to the education of the young. Even by the standards of the day, this was a hard life – one filled with the ardours of the classroom and a fairly austere community life. Almost eight decades later, Brother Michael or Mike Junior, as he was affectionately known, would leave this world to meet his Lord and Saviour this past Sunday morning.

Right after his initial religious formation, Brother Michael began his teaching ministry at the Brothers ‘ juniorate in Aurora in 1935. Later his tour of duty would find him in Montreal, Renfrew, Pembroke, and Toronto. In 1979, Brother Michael returned to De La Salle “Oaklands” in Toronto to live out his retirement from school work. This was, of course, thirty four years ago. Mike was an avid reader, so I dare say he must have come across Ashley Montagu’s words: “The idea is to die young as late as possible.” Ever since I came to know him, Brother Michael was the epitome of youth and energy. This is indeed how he is remembered, even today, by many alumni from his years at De La Salle where he taught from 1944 until 1956.

I had the good fortune to live with Mike for many years in his retirement at “Oaklands”. I always found him to be interesting and interested in all the affairs of the District and the school. With his long experience in school work and community life, Brother Michael continued to have a positive influence on matters by offering his considerable wisdom and insights. In my early days as principal, I found my many discussions with Mike, which usually took place late in the evening in the coffee room, to be of great help. Although I have been reminded that Mike was a rather stern director and principal in his younger days, he became much easier-going once the burden of responsibility was removed from his shoulders. Anyone who knew Mike was aware of his sharp wit and good sense of humour. I can recall to this day how much I laughed when Mike recounted an automobile accident he had on the Queen Elizabeth Way when he was on his way one weekend to visit his senior friends in Mississauga. It seems that a car ran into Mike’s. Mike stopped to see the damage and exchange information with the other driver at which he asked the young man what he did to stop when Mike wasn’t there.

When the time came for Mike to need more care than a regular community could give, Mike announced that it was a good idea for him to go to the Manor. And so since 2001, Brother Michael would call La Salle Manor his home.

There is a great deal we could learn from reflecting on Brother Michael’s long life. But there are two points in particular which are good for us to consider here. First, for a man who came from a very different generation, Mike demonstrated a sense of flexibility and a kind of roll-with-the-waves attitude to the vast array of changes he saw in his lifetime in the world around him and in his own religious family. Often I would be looking through a book from the community library and would see Mike’s copious and thoughtful notes in the column as he would be reflecting on whatever he was reading. He did the same in his office book. Faithful to the spirit of the Institute, Brother Michel sought to go beyond an understanding of the truths of our faith in a general way. In discussions with him, it was evident though that he was attached to the basics of religious life and took his prayer life quite seriously. He valued the importance of continuing one’s spiritual formation and plain hard-work. He spoke with great admiration of the many older Brothers he knew and how they worked hard, and how much they were willing to sacrifice in the early days of the District.

The second characteristic of Brother Michael can be best described in Cardinal Newman’s words written long ago now. It is a characteristic that should apply to all Brothers of the Christian Schools and is one which Mike embodied so well. I quote: “The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast – all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make everyone at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort and has no ears for slander or gossip and is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets everything for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes. He observes the maxim of the ancient sage that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to become our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted by insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries. He is patient, forbearing and resigned. He submits to pain because it is inevitable, to bereavement because it is irreparable, and to death because it is his destiny.”

In an age when even in religious life we seem ready to dispense with the value of living a hidden and unassuming life, it is good to know that in his life Mike was aware that it is only through embracing the cross that we can win the crown of glory. We would do well to imitate his good example. I suppose in his own way Mike understood, as we are reminded in St. Luke’s gospel, that our Lord forgave the good thief on the cross and promised him paradise. And that our God does not so much demand retribution but offers mercy so that we can be washed clean in one embrace. Brother Michael’s time to be made clean has now come.

As Catholics, as believers, we pray for Brother Michael and all those gone before us since we believe in the communion of saints. And that between us and them there is still a flow of life between us. We remain in each other’s hearts. So as we say our farewell to a faithful son of John Baptist de La Salle, we thank God for all that Brother Michael contributed for so long to so many. May the road rise to meet him. May the wind be at his back. May the sun of heaven warm his face. And its gentle rains fall soft upon him. Mike, until we meet again …
May he rest in peace.

Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of  Br. Michael O’Reilly, FSC

Born Daniel Benedict O’Reilly in Eganville, Ontario, CANADA, on August 26, 1915

Entered the Aurora Juniorate on September 3, 1928, and Aurora Novitiate on July 6, 1931

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Michael, on August 29, 1931

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Aurora, Ontario, CANADA on August 25, 1940

Br. Michael died at La Salle Manor in Scarborough, Ontario, CANADA, on September 28, 2013


Monday, September 30, 2013

Viewing from 2:00 – 7:00 pm; prayer service at 7:00 pm

La Salle Manor
61 Fairfax Crescent
Scarborough, Ontario, CANADA  M1L 1Z7

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 am

Burial at Holy Cross Cemetery, Toronto, Ontario CANADA


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

Brother Michael passed away peacefully at La Salle Manor after a brief illness.  May he rest in peace.


Aurora, Ontario

Toronto, Ontario
De La Salle College “Oaklands”

Montreal, Quebec
St. Ann’s School

Montreal, Quebec
D’Arcy McGee School

Riviera du Loup, Quebec

Toronto, Ontario
De La Salle College “Oaklands”

teacher and director
Renfrew, Ontario
Bishop Ryan High School

second novitiate

teacher and director
Renfrew, Ontario
Bishop Ryan High School

teacher and director
Pembroke, Ontario
St. Colomba High School

Foster, Quebec

Montreal, Quebec
Cardinal Newman High School

Toronto, Ontario
De La Salle Collegiate “Oaklands”

Scarborough, Ontario
La Salle Manor

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