Words of Remembrance for Brother Thomas Bondra, FSC
Given by Brother Donald Dimitroff, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
La Salle Hall, Beltsville, MD
May 31, 2017
Tom Bondra was a good friend of mine. We lived in community together for approximately seventeen (17) years at Seton-La Salle, Calvert Hall, and La Salle Hall.
I thought of our Brother Thomas as unique and special. Tom was an excellent teacher of English Literature. His tastes in literature varied widely. The writings of Walt Whitman, the subject of his dissertation, were his favorite. Tom was an expert on the grand Arthurian legends; he taught a college level course on vampire literature; he loved all of the Harry Potter stories; he was an avid fan of the Game of Thrones series. Tom regularly watched the latest Doctor Who episode. He would be reading the newest teen-angst apoplectic trilogy, or glued to the TV when a major tennis tournament was on, especially if Raphael Nadal was playing. He regularly watched the reruns of Start Trek and Star Trek the Next Generation. Tom loved his Kindle, sitting for hours reading a book, listening to music or playing Scrabble. He was a fan of Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins, but his favorite player was Peter Bondra of the Washington Capitals. Another passion of Tom’s was playing cards with the community on Friday nights. Tom was an excellent card player, as long as less than five cards were dealt!
Tom was an English major and I was a computer scientist/mathematician. Despite the great differences in our backgrounds, Tom and I shared many interests. We both liked books, science fiction, and movies in general. Tom was always generous with what he owned. He freely put his Amazon account on our big screen TV and shared his movies with the community, often paying for the movies that the community watched on Saturday night. Brothers would often thank me for showing a movie, but it was really Tom’s generosity that made the Saturday night movies possible.
Tom loved playing Scrabble. He played it almost every day on his Kindle. He sometimes played Scrabble with me in our game room. As an English teacher, he liked to stretch his knowledge of words and it appealed to me, as I always looked at the game mathematically, considering all the different combinations of letters. I loaned Tom a book of mine, “Word Freak”, which was about Scrabble.
Tom did not drive, so I would take him on regular trips to the stores such as “MovieStop” and Daedalus Book Warehouse. Tom would easily spend an hour at each store, browsing through all the used movies and discount books. Each trip often meant that he would return with a handful of movies and/or a half-dozen books.
Tom was an avid reader of the New York Times Book Section. That was his source for interesting selection of eclectic books that he would buy. For example, he pointed me to the book, “The Infinity of Lists” by Umberto Eco. That book was a treatise on the human quest to understand the vastness of creation. It contained paintings, poetry, and prose of many famous
artists and writers, as each of them tried to convey the concept of infinity. Tom knew that scientists and mathematicians also deal with such topics and knew that I would be interested in such a book.
I think this reach for the infinite, for what is beyond our lives, also greatly explains why Tom was so greatly interested in science fiction. When showing movies to the community on a Saturday night, if it was a science fiction or fantasy movie, most likely the suggestion had come from Tom.
Community prayer was especially important to Tom. He generously served as our prayer leader throughout his time here in our community. Tom told me more than once how important that duty was for him. He treated his job as prayer leader very seriously. Prayer was a very serious personal matter for Tom.
So I would like to end this talk with some quotes from his favorite poet: Walt Whitman, and from Whitman’s poem, “Song of the Open Road”. You may be familiar with of these lines as they are part of a popular commercial.
Song of the Open Road
[by Walt Whitman]
This first quote is from the start of verse 1:
Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.
and from the end of verse 5:
All seems beautiful to me,
I can repeat over to men and women,
You have done such good to me, I would do the same to you,
I will recruit for myself and you as I go,
I will scatter myself among men and women as I go,
I will toss a new gladness and roughness among them,
Whoever denies me, it shall not trouble me,
Whoever accepts me, he or she shall be blessed, and shall bless me.
and one line near the end of the poem, verse 17:
Will you give me yourself? Will you come travel with me?
So I wish you, Tom, the best on your continued journey through the infinite, through prayer, and to God.
Tom, you will be greatly missed.
Thanks for inviting me down those open roads.
Peace to you always.
Some day we all shall meet again on that open road.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Brother Thomas Bondra, FSC
Born Thomas Joseph Bondra in Reading, PA, on June 23, 1949
Entered the Ammendale, MD, Novitiate on June 15, 1967
Received the Religious Habit on August 31, 1967
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Jersey City, NJ, on May 14, 1977
Died at Riverview Medical Center, Red Bank, NJ, on May 22, 2017
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
La Salle Hall
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville, MD 20705-1202
Brother Thomas chose cremation
Guests will be received from 9:30 am – 10:30 am
Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 am
Burial in Brothers’ Cemetery following
Lunch at the Brothers’ Community after the burial
SUFFRAGES FOR OUR DECEASED BROTHER THOMAS:
District: 50 masses
La Salle Hall community: 30 masses
Each community in the District: 1 mass
Brother Thomas died peacefully during the late evening. May he rest in peace.
Elkins Park, PA
Jersey City, NJ
Hudson Catholic High School
Central Catholic High School
St. John’s College
Seton-La Salle High School
Seton-La Salle High School Community
La Salle College High School
Calvert Hall College High School
Carnegie Mellon University
(Central Catholic Cmty.)
La Salle Hall
De La Salle Hall
Tom was a beautiful soul.
Well said, Kevin. We will miss you, Tom!
Well said, Kevin. We will miss you, Tom.
Br. Bondra was a kind and engaging teacher, rest in peace!
I just came across this and was saddened to learn that Br. Bondra had passed. He was my sophomore year English teacher at Calvert Hall in 1991 and also oversaw the McMullin Scholars Program, of which I was a member. Br. Bondra always believed in me and pushed me when he knew that I needed it. I remember an assignment that he gave to our class one day to write a poem using imagery. I procrastinated and wrote a lackluster poem in the car, on the way to school, the morning that it was due. Br. Bondra asked to read my poem as soon as I entered the classroom as the other students were filing in. After he read it, he looked at me and said, “What is this? This isn’t you.” I felt like I had let him down and was disappointed in myself. During class that day, I wrote another poem and handed it to him at the end of class. He read it, smiled, looked up at me and said, “this is what I was expecting.” He helped me correct some of the punctuation and told me that he would submit it for consideration to the school’s annual literary magazine. I felt very proud when I found out that it had been selected for publication, and I know that Br. Bondra was proud as well. Thank you, Br. Bondra for helping me to become a better version of myself.