Words of Remembrance for Brother Louis Rommel, FSC

Given by Brother Peter Furlong, FSC and Brother Brian Carty, FSC
October 23, 2014
Mass of Christian Burial
De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ

Brother Peter Furlong delivered the following words at the Mass:

It is my privilege to say a few words about a fine Brother, Brother Louis Rommel. In preparing this, I went around to a number of people at La Salle Institute, staff and teachers, and asked them to give me a few adjectives that would summarize Louis.

Here are some of the answers.

Brother Lewis was kind, gentle, and soft-spoken. He was firm and fair with the students. He was passionate about teaching. He was very effective with the parents of the boys. He was a good listener. He was respectful of you and brought a sense of peace to you.

I met Louie when he was assigned to La Salle Institute with Brother Celsus John and me in 1971. He came to establish a middle school at La Salle to help the enrollment. I remember that he went around the Capital District to talk with many principals in both public and private elementary schools in order to get ideas on how to be an effective principal at La Salle Institute.

The first year the middle school opened, La Salle enrolled 25 seventh grade students and 18 eighth grade students. Within a decade, Louie became known as such an effective principal that the middle school grew close to 200 students. In 1990, at the request of parents, La Salle opened a sixth grade and it quickly rose to around 40 students.

In a typical day, Louie would be around the school and checking up on classes as well as handling any discipline problems. He did not like study periods for the middle school and he instituted a new program where each grade would be involved with physical activity of some sort after lunch. He instituted a sports night for the boys and filled the gym with cheering parents.

One teacher in the school who had a son that was the smallest boy in the whole school told me this story. She said that Louie approached her in the early spring to tell her that he was changing the trip for the middle school boys from one amusement park to another because her son would not be able to take the rides in the one that they usually attended.

Another activity that Louie loved was going on ski trips with the cadets in the winter. He also loved skiing with Brothers Basil Dzikas and Celsus John Brown. We listened to wonderful anecdotes from Louie, especially about Celsus.

Louie retired as principal in 1993. In his days of declining health, I used to help him with his daily procedures after his first recuperation at De La Salle Hall. One day he told me that he wanted to return to De La Salle Hall because he knew he needed much more care than he could receive at La Salle Institute. So, by his own choice, he lived his final years peacefully under in caring hands of the De La Salle Hall staff.

Brother Brian Carty posted the following message on his Facebook page after hearing of the death of Brother Louis. Brother Brian delivered this reflection at the Mass:

As my generation ages, we increasingly have to deal not only with change, but with loss of friends and colleagues as well. Surprisingly, for me the loss is less and less an experience of sadness but a delightful remembrance of the time we shared and the laughs we had together.

I have shared before that I was so fortunate to have received a vocation to join the De La Salle Christian Brothers back in the “old days”, largely a result of my experience of having the

Brothers as my teachers from the 4th grade on. I joined the Brothers because I had great teachers and mentors who were role models. I wanted to be like them. I entered the Novitiate in 1961, just before all of the changes that were to be called the sixties burst upon the scene. Much of my early training had been steeped in tradition, Latin being the language of the liturgy. Like many young folks my age, we were not quite ready to deal with all the changes but often embraced change without thinking. I was able to embrace the changes and the freedom with a loving and respectful eye on tradition as well. For the Brothers who were my role models, it was an even more difficult time. The saying about old dogs and new tricks certainly was apt.

I received word today that one of those great role models, my 8th grade teacher at Sacred Heart School in The Highbridge section of the Bronx, Brother Louis, had passed away. He was 86 years old. In those days there were three 8th grade classes in the Boys’ School, each one with close to 60 students in the class. Brother Louis had 8-1, the class with the wise guys and those in need of structure. He was a big man whose very presence commanded respect so he rarely if ever had any discipline problems. That is why he had those of us who seemed to have a little more spirit! He was formal at first but as we got to know him better, we found that he had a good sense of humor and was able to laugh at some of our antics. We also knew not to cross boundaries; respect at all times. He was always fair, a great quality for any teacher who wants to be effective. He had no favorites. We all liked him. We liked him a lot.

After I graduated from College in 1966, I was assigned to the Monsignor Kelly School, an assignment that profoundly shaped and changed my life. During the tumultuous times of the late sixties, I found myself being asked to become the Principal of the Kelly School at the ripe old age of 25! Even more of a shock was when our Provincial called me to tell me that Brother Louis, my 8th grade mentor, was joining the faculty as a teacher. When he arrived in the Brothers’ community we sat down and signed a pact. We both agreed to tell no stories. I would shut my mouth and he would do the same. We became good friends and it was clear that as a teacher he was even better than when I had him in class.

Monsignor Kelly School was a joint project of the Brothers and the Archdiocese of New York. It was a middle school for academically talented boys from Manhattan and the South Bronx. Innovation and experimentation with curriculum was fostered. For many of the students it was their first experience with racial and ethnic diversity. The boys at Kelly loved Louis as a teacher and he was even more patient with their antics. He was not afraid of changing and rolled with the punches yet stayed true to the best of the traditions. He even pulled off some pranks on me. He went so far as to organize a sit down strike with the kids to make a point for his History/Current Events class that caught me off guard, and I fell for it! Some present said that I lost my cool. I guess my Irish side emerged! However, every student who was there remembers that event. Clearly, it was good pedagogy! We always talked about that event whenever we met and we laughed. He really got me.

As more of the members of “the greatest generation” such as Brother Louis pass on, I hope and pray that some of the other-directed fidelity and commitment that seemed to be an essential part of their character is not lost on the millennials. YOLO meant to them that since they only lived once, it was their obligation to make the world a better place and not just to be self-centered and self-absorbed. Those Brothers and mentors who influenced me and impacted my life continue to live on and impact the lives of the students whom I teach and mentor. They continue to live through me. I am so proud to be able to share them and their humble greatness with a new generation of children.

Thank you, Brother Louis. You made a difference, a true son of Saint La Salle.

Live Jesus and God in Our Hearts – Forever!

Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of Br. Louis Rommel, FSC

Born Charles Lewis Rommel in New York, NY on October 15, 1928

Entered the Barrytown, NY, Novitiate on June 27, 1946

Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Louis Edward, on September 7, 1946

Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Hillside, Troy, NY, in 1953



Br. Louis died at De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ, on October 19, 2014




Thursday, October 23, 2014

Viewing beginning at 10:00 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



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

Brother Louis died peacefully in his room at De La Salle Hall during the early morning while in palliative care.  May he rest in peace.


teacher (sub-director 1956-1958)
New York, NY
Sacred Heart School

teacher and sub-director
New York, NY
Good Shepherd School

Bronx, NY
Immaculate Conception School

Bronx, NY
Residence at St. Augustine Community

teacher and director
Bronx, NY
Sacred Heart School

New York, NY
Monsignor Kelly School

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

New York, NY
Monsignor Kelly School

principal of junior-middle school
Troy, NY
La Salle Institute

Troy, NY
La Salle Institute

Lincroft, NJ
De La Salle Hall

Troy, NY
La Salle Institute

Lincroft, NJ
De La Salle Hall