1925 – 2016
Words of Remembrance for Brother George Berrian, FSC
Given by Brother Raymond Meagher, FSC
January 30, 2016
Mass of Christian Burial
De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ
A TOMBSTONE has a date of BIRTH, a date of DEATH, and a “DASH” between these two dates. That DASH represents the time we spend on earth between birth and death. We don’t choose when to be born or when to die. BUT, we do have a CHOICE – a very IMPORTANT CHOICE – about how we live our lives. God determines the quantity of our time on earth, but WE determine the quality of that time. That DASH is what MATTERS MOST!
BROTHER GEORGE BERRIAN made his DASH – HIS LIFE – COUNT! A native of the Bronx, he attended St. Jerome’s School. He was more than impressed with the Christian Brothers – with their teaching, close relationships with students, spirit of community, and their involvement in after-school activities. Those Brothers were extremely important influences on Brother George’s decision to become a Christian Brother.
Today we CELEBRATE his life! He was a unique gift to all of us from God. The two words that best characterize the life of BROTHER GEORGE are SERVICE and LOYALTY. He was a powerful force for good because he enthusiastically embraced these two important qualities – SERVICE and LOYALTY. Our world is a much better place because he was in it.
He would not want us to focus on his loss – he would tell us not to be upset because he is now at peace with God. There are so many great things that could be said about George, but he would not want us to talk about his accomplishments and achievements. I did that once at a community prayer service of affirmation, and I found out the hard way. He would want us to focus on LIFE, which he saw every day as a beautiful gift from God. As we focus on his life today, I will try to respect his wishes.
GEORGE bought COMPLETELY into what he was doing – he was more than fully committed as he used his extraordinary gifts, talents, and passion to reach out and help others. He knew what he was meant to do, and he certainly made a DIFFERENCE doing it. GEORGE’S DASH was composed of three major areas: A committed and dedicated CHRISTIAN BROTHER, a vital member of the BERRIAN family, and a LOYAL FRIEND to so many people he encountered during his lifetime.
A COMMITTED AND DEDICATED CHRISTIAN BROTHER! We celebrate a person who had dedicated himself personally and professionally for over seventy years to the Lasallian Ideals of Faith and Zeal in Christian Educational Ministry. George did the work that he was chosen to do and did it extremely well. He invested himself in becoming all that he could become, as a Brother, a professional, and, especially, as a wonderful human being, so that he could help others become all that they could become. He selflessly “reached out” to be part of God’s plan on earth.
GEORGE invested himself as a highly effective teacher in many of the Brothers’ High Schools in the New York–New Jersey area. But, he spent most of his life “reaching out” to help others at Manhattan Prep and Manhattan College, places where he had a great impact. The Prep and the College were his favorite assignments. He was a Teacher, Community Director, and Principal at the Prep for many years. He then served as a Professor, Director of the Graduate Division, and as the Dean of the School of Education at Manhattan College. He was well prepared for these assignments as a result of his graduate work at Fordham University, New York University, and then at Columbia University, where he earned his Doctorate.
As a person of vision and passion, George cared deeply about what was best for the Prep and the College. He loved his time at these two extraordinary institutions. He “touched the hearts” of his students by challenging them, supporting them and urging them on. As a former student stated, “Brother George pushed us to do our best to ensure the brightest possible future for each of us.” Another student stated, “From our first meeting when I was a freshman at the Prep to the present, as a faculty member of the College, he would pop in and out of my life, especially when I was in need of advice or encouragement. He cast a big shadow of influence not only on me, but all those that he came in contact with over the years.”
After his retirement from the College, George kept in close contact with a large number of Prep and College alumni. These former students continued to have great love and loyalty to him. The impression that he left on so many of them is evidenced by the number of students who continued to keep in contact with him and visited him over the years. He was very involved with their annual reunions.
While at the College, George was very proud to serve as a member of the Board of Directors at the Methodist Home for 12 years and on the Board of Directors of De La Salle Hall for 12 years.
He was very proud to be part of the Christian Brothers Community at Manhattan College. He was a vital member of our community. He always made himself available to drive people to and from various appointments, schools, and an infinite number of trips to airports. He was a good and wholesome Brother.
Personally, he contributed greatly to my life during our time together. He affirmed me and challenged me. He was a wonderful role-model. I learned a lot from George. He was also an outstanding writer and editor. He made me look like a genius after helping me with my dissertation and annual Christmas messages. He gave me first-class advice that proved to be remarkably helpful in some situations.
George was also a vital member of the De La Salle Hall Community. He treasured the friendships he had here with the Administrators, Nurses, Doctors, Staff Members, Brothers, and his Social Worker. He loved to communicate and be connected with each of you. I’m sure you enjoyed his wonderful sense of humor. He loved you all for putting up with him on his good days, and especially, on his bad days.
A VITAL MEMBER OF THE BERRIAN FAMILY! His family was his world! His caring, devotion, and dedication to his Mom were extraordinary. He visited her every day when she was in the Methodist Home and took her on vacations when she was able to travel. YOU were his world! He celebrated and prayed for each of you daily. He was so proud of all of you! You all fed his heart! He deeply loved and appreciated all of you! He was always there for you! He looked at your pictures every day and pointed them out to all his guests – how proud he was of his brothers Eddie and Tom, their wives, his nieces, nephews, grand-nieces and grand-nephews. He would want YOU to continue his legacy of love.
A LOYAL FRIEND! GEORGE did a lot of what he would call small things in a quiet way, but they made a HUGE DIFFERENCE in the lives of others. He never lost his vocation. After retirement, he continued to listen and discover the call of God and how he could continue to make a difference in SERVING others. The best way to capture this part of GEORGE’S DASH is to share with you the thoughts and feelings of Ann Clohessy, former Administrative Secretary to several presidents of Manhattan College.
“His kindness and generosity were unforgettable. My husband was very sick for a long time. George would take him to radiation treatments and to Doctor’s appointments. George is the kind of person who does things quietly – you never heard him talk about the things he did. His humility, kindness, and thoughtfulness are unsurmountable. His love and devotion to his mother, to Bernadette and Jack Kelleher, when Bernadette was dying of ALS, and to countless others whom I am sure no one knows about were extraordinary. With George, all you had to do was ask and he was there for you. By the way, you know he would kill me for saying this. Flowery epitaphs are not his style. He did what he did without much ado or flare. He just did it.”
BROTHER GEORGE has left us after his 90 years here on earth for a better world. His DASH is complete, but it is not his final goodbye. His love for all of us is truly timeless. He leaves us with some amazing memories, special moments, and some insightful views on life. We all have great memories of our times together with him. He was SPECIAL! He was a “genuine human presence” in our lives. He is now reunited with his Mom, Dad, his brother Tom and the rest of the Berrian Family. They were waiting for him with joy!
George would want us to take something home from this experience. I believe he would want each of us to make our DASH on earth COUNT! He would want us to be more loving, more sensitive, more supportive, and more willing to help others in need. He showed us the way! Let’s make a positive difference in this world as he did. Let’s make our DASH COUNT!
Please pray for the happy repose of the soul of Brother George Berrian, FSC
Born George Robert Berrian in New York, NY on September 12, 1925
Entered the Barrytown, NY, Juniorate on September 1, 1939, and Novitiate on June, 23, 1943
Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Cosmas George, on September 7, 1943
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Oakdale, NY, in 1950
Br. George died at De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ, on January 26, 2016
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Viewing from 1:00 pm
Mass of Christian Burial at 2:00 pm
De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1608
Private Burial on Monday at St. Gabriel’s Cemetery, Marlboro, NJ
SUFFRAGES FOR OUR DECEASED BROTHER GEORGE:
District: 100 masses
De La Salle Hall community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass
Brother George died peacefully in his room after about a week in hospice care. May he rest in peace.
New York, NY
St. Augustine School
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School
teacher; head-history department
Manhattan College Prep
teacher; head-history dept.
St. Joseph Collegiate Institute
New York, NY
De La Salle High School
North Arlington, NJ
Queen of Peace High School
Manhattan College Prep
director; principal; part time
director of graduate division of Manhattan College
Manhattan College Prep
director; full time study
Manhattan College Prep Community
full time study
Manhattan College Community
dean of education
Manhattan College Community
De La Salle Hall