WORDS OF REMEMBRANCE FOR BROTHER GREGORIAN McLAUGHLIN, FSC
Given by Reverend Thomas Donaghy
March 13, 2014
Mass of Christian Burial
La Salle Hall, Beltsville, MD
As we gather this evening for the Mass of Resurrection for Brother Gregorian, I presume each one here this evening has a different outlook on life having at one time or another been in the presence of Brother Gregorian. After sixty-six years of faithful service in a De La Salle community, one sees the legitimacy in the question of why are we here. I suggest that in a joyful mode, we praise and thank the God of our Fathers who so generously bestowed on us the gift of Brother Gregorian over these many years.
As the “Dean of the Class of 1946,” he may have incurred the attention of his novice director from time to time acting as defender of his classmates. Once, when he was late for morning assignments, he was excoriated for giving bad example to his fellow Brothers. In an attempt to explain, Brother Joseph told him to kiss the floor. While in that position, Brother Joseph said, “I ought to step on your neck.” Brother Gregorian, still in floor position could not stop laughing. Brother Joseph, one could see, was struggling to keep himself under control. There are so many similar stories and events, but we don’t want to miss what would be important for Brother Gregorian this night.
Our readings tonight reflect what I saw in Brother Gregorian as a spiritual person. He was, I would suggest, a literalist. That would not be so acceptable in academe today. But for Brother Gregorian, it was his way of responding to his call to discipleship. There never was any doubt in his mind that victory in Messianic times belonged to Jesus. Brother seemed to understand fully that the greatest sign of God’s love was the gift of Christ to his people. Accordingly, one sees in Brother Gregorian’s full acceptance of his role in life as a child of God. As we see in John’s letter, Christians prepared by lives of virtue in imitation of Jesus will ultimately attain the true knowledge of God. Matthew tells us that those who care for the needs of the suffering are indeed ministering to Jesus himself.
Brother enhanced his spiritual life in absorbing the writings of St. John Baptist de La Salle, as well as institute documents. As for community life, Brother took seriously, de La Salle’s admonition, FOR IN A COMMUNITY GOD’S NAME IS INVOKED, AND THOSE WHO LIVE IN IT SHOULD BE THERE ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF SAVING THEIR SOULS BY SANCTIFYING THEMSELVES. THUS THE PLACE BECOMES THE GATE OF HEAVEN, FOR IT OPENS THE WAY THERE FOR THOSE WHO WISH TO FOLLOW IT. Did Brother have this in mind when he named De La Salle College in Washington, “Heaven on a hill.” Post war times there could be challenging, but there, an underlying ambience of communal joy seemed to grace the place. And one might cautiously say Brother Gregorian was a major contributor.
De La Salle also addressed the notion of joy, noting that “their distress shall be turned to joy. If servants of God experience trials and sadness, it is only for a time. The happiness which follows their distress will last forever.” Despite his public, joyful demeanor, Brother Gregorian suffered many periods of challenge and stress over his lifetime. Some are the normal disappointments of a family life severed by death. Other personal concerns, such as dealing with the preparation for, and teaching assignments, and, or support services in the Brothers’ schools. Still, his deep spirituality and joyful spirit carried him through.
Lent was always a special time for Brother. He looked forward with great anticipation to the Pascal Feast. One of his most favorite meditations was on the five wounds of Christ. It was the meditation for Holy Saturday suggested by St. de La Salle. Brother Gregorian used it every Holy Saturday. In his considerations, St. La Salle wrote, “THE FRUIT WHICH WE SHOULD DERIVE FROM THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE WOUNDS OF OUR DIVINE LORD IS THAT WE ABANDON SIN ENTIRELY, MORTIFY OUR PASSIONS, AND GO AGAINST OUR INCLINATIONS WHICH ARE TOO HUMAN AND TOO NATURAL.” This is what, I suggest, Brother lived to the best of his ability. This was the foundation of the spiritual direction he gave to many students and faculty in his various assignments. Today many of these gentlemen are on the cusp of paradise, happily recalling Brother’s good example, and asking after him from time to time.
One of Brother’s favorite hymns was as follows:
Mother of Christ, Mother of Christ, I do not sigh for the wealth of earth and the things that fade and flee; but Mother of Christ, Mother of Christ, this do I ask of thee: When the voyage is o’re, oh, stand on the shore, and welcome me home safe to thee.
Last week, on the shore of paradise, Our Blessed Lady had a lot of company in the persons of Brother Gregorian’s family, Christian Brothers, his former students and staff at a variety of places. And so dear Brother, as you gaze into the face of God, remember us, and we will not forget you.
Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of Br. Gregorian McLaughlin, FSC
Born Harry Cyril McLaughlin in Philadelphia, PA, on October 23, 1924
Entered the Ammendale, MD, Novitiate on April 6, 1946
Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Gregorian, on September 7, 1946
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Ammendale, MD, on August 29, 1954
Br. Gregorian died at De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ, on March 7, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
Viewing from 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738
Thursday, March 13, 2014
Viewing from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Mass of Christian Burial at 7:15 pm
La Salle Hall
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville, MD 20705
Friday, March 14, 2014
Burial in the Brothers’ cemetery at 11:oo am
Luncheon at La Salle Hall to follow
SUFFRAGES FOR OUR DECEASED BROTHER GREGORIAN
District: 100 masses
De La Salle community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass
Brother Gregorian died peacefully late in the evening at De La Salle Hall after several days in hospice care. May he rest in peace.
De La Salle College
West Catholic Boys High School
St. Francis Vocational School
Central Catholic High School
Bishop Walsh High School
Jersey City, NJ
New York University (residence: Hudson Catholic)
Central Catholic High School
St. Philip Neri School
St. John’s College High School
La Salle University (residence: De La Salle community)
La Salle Hall
De La Salle Hall
Brother Gregorian was a distant relative of my mother. During his time at St. John’s and La Salle University he often visited my family for the holidays. I can remember picking him up at the train station, hearing stories of his adventures and his love of the theater and movies. For most of my childhood, it wasn’t Christmas without Brother at the dinner table. We will miss him dearly; his laugh, his holiday cards, his joy, and his family-famous phrases that would help anyone remember the true meaning of Christmas. After what can only be considered an accomplished and fulfilled life, may he find eternal rest in paradise.