1933 – 2017
Words of Remembrance for Brother Henry Betz, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
De La Salle Hall
November 30, 2017
Given by Michael Freedman
Hello, thank you all for coming. For those of you who don’t know, I’m Henry’s nephew, Michael. And sitting over here is my wife, Sonia. We are grateful that so many of you have come to pay your respects to Henry. Henry was the oldest of four siblings, and most of his family is no longer with us, so I am also grateful to be able to speak here today for Henry. As you probably know, Henry was a man of few words, so I’ll try to be the same and keep my remarks short.
When Brother Bud asked me to deliver this reflection, I was honored, but a little nervous. I thought, how do you sum up someone’s life in a three-to-five minute speech? But, as I thought about everything Henry has done in his life, it all became very clear. Henry’s life was a life of loving service. He spent his entire life in service to others.
Henry joined the Brothers at eighteen years old and spent almost sixty-seven years helping others. The Brothers were his family; they were present, comforting him at the time of his passing, for which we are extremely grateful. I remember as a child, many of the Brothers would join Henry when he would come to visit us out on Long Island. Brother “Buck” was there a few times, and Brother Dominic was there after my grandmother’s, Henry’s mom’s, passing.
Whether Henry was assigned in the Bronx or Albany, he was always teaching and having an impact on other people in a positive way. Certainly, there were times when he “scared” the kids – Michele (Puleo O’Hare) – can vouch for that! But, once you got passed the gruff exterior, as one of the Brothers said to me earlier: “He had a kind heart and was gentle as a kitten.” And Brother Dominic fondly recalled how Henry would always reach out to the poorest or most troubled of his students and made a special effort to help them.
But Henry also had a very big impact on me personally. To the day he passed, he was always teaching my wife, Sonia, and me. He loved history – whether it was world history, or our family’s history. And even though he suffered from dementia, his ability to recall long-term memories was still sharp. We would spend our visits with Henry while he was here at De La Salle Hall speaking about the old days in Glendale, or discussing the family from Germany when our relative contacted us to help put together a family tree.
And if you indulge me for a moment, I’d like to explain how Henry had a life changing impact on me. When I was a student at Albany Law School and Henry was teaching, literally next door, at Christian Brothers Academy, I had considered dropping out at one point. Henry sat me down, and in his understanding way, listened to me and gave me some words of advice which helped convince me to stay and see it through. I did, and I’ve never forgotten that moment and kept his advice with me the rest of my life. But that was not the only time.
Most importantly, Henry planted the seed of religion in me and helped me to get on the spiritual journey I now am on. For those of you who don’t know, my dad was Jewish and my mom (Henry’s sister) was Catholic. While I was baptized as a child, my parents chose not to push me in any particular direction, but wanted me to choose for myself. I remember having many discussions with Henry about religion as I grew up. He never pushed or preached, but explained and allowed me to find my faith for myself. Well, a few years back, I saw the light and chose to be confirmed. Now I attend Church devotedly, and am actively involved in my parish and have become a member of the Knights of Columbus, trying to emulate Henry’s example of service to others. I am grateful for Henry’s influence and that God chose to speak to me through him.
In conclusion, I want to thank you all again for being here to pay your respects. While Henry is gone from us physically, he will always remain in our hearts. His impact will always be felt and fondly remembered. Rest in peace, Uncle Henry, and may God bless and keep your soul.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Brother Henry Betz, FSC
Born Henry Paul Betz in Brooklyn, NY, on January 28, 1933
Entered the Barrytown, NY, Novitiate on March 3, 1951
Received the Religious Habit and Name, Brother Bernardine Henry, on May 20, 1951
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in 1958
Died at De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ, on November 26, 2017
Thursday, November 30, 2017
Viewing from 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Mass of Christian Burial at 11:00 am
De La Salle Hall
810 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft, NJ 07738-1608
Burial following at St. Gabriel’s Cemetery, Marlboro, NJ
The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother Henry with memorial liturgies according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals entrust Brother to God’s loving care.
Brother Henry passed away suddenly and peacefully during the afternoon. May he rest in peace.
La Salle School: teacher; prefect
La Salle School: teacher
St. Mary’s School: teacher
New York, NY
St. Bernard: pro-director
Paramus Catholic High School: teacher
Christian Brothers Academy: assistant principal
New York, NY
La Salle Academy: assistant principal
New York, NY
La Salle Academy: development
St. Raymond High School: director
Christian Brothers Academy: teacher
De La Salle Hall: recuperation
Christian Brothers Academy: development
De La Salle Hall: retired