1932 – 2018
Words of Remembrance for Brother Anthony Baird, FSC
Delivered by Brother Joseph F. Mahon, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
La Salle Hall, Beltsville, MD
November 29, 2018
In Father Jack’s homily we heard a beautiful tribute to Anthony from the perspective of a student. And that is the most important perspective. St. John Baptist de La Salle has a wonderful image in one of his meditations. He envisions Brothers – Anthony, for example – standing before God to give an account of their life and ministry. Former students who have died, give testimony to God about their teachers – “these men are servants of the great God, who have proclaimed to us the way of salvation.” De La Salle wrote “ . . . . .then they will represent the good you have done among them . . . what glory there will be . . . when your zeal and devotion to procure the salvation of children will be made public before all people!” With De La Salle I imagine that tributes such as Father Jack’s have been proclaimed in heaven since last Thursday.
I offer briefly the perspective of a colleague and confrere. My association with Anthony goes back 50-some years when we both served at Bishop O’Connell High School. We later lived together in community in Ardmore at St. Colman’s Parish, while he served at St. Gabriel’s Hall and I at Archbishop Carroll High School. Eventually I moved to the community on the Carroll campus. After that our association was a fraternal friendship, a mutual loving concern and support for each other and for the ministries we served – a friendship that strengthened and supported me in my vocation. Reflecting these past few days on those early years and the later years, two qualities, virtues of Anthony’s kept recurring – authenticity is one, obedience the other.
At Bishop O’Connell High School, Anthony served primarily as a counselor, though he also taught Biology. In the classroom he was a no-nonsense teacher. He did not hesitate to confront misbehavior in class or anywhere in the school. Even though he was then somewhat slimmer than in later years – I used to remind him of his svelte days – he was a larger than life personality. Students jumped at his bellowed reprimands. But this in no way affected his effectiveness as a counselor. It seemed that the students that he gave the hardest time to were the ones who came to seek his advice and help with their personal issues. This is in some sense counter-intuitive. I believe the students saw in Anthony an authenticity that helped them to recognize that everything he did was out of love for them and intended to help them to follow the right path. If they needed correction, they got it. If they needed a hug, they got it. It has often been said that students can tell the phony from the genuine. To them Anthony was the genuine. I think of the stories in the Gospels when the evangelists say that the ordinary people, the crowds, loved to listen to Jesus because he spoke with authority. This was not the authority of the boss or someone to be feared. The crowds sensed the genuineness of Jesus as a person, that He was someone who cared deeply for them. I think that Anthony’s effectiveness with young people over the years is because he spoke to them, like Jesus, with authority – in Audubon, Cumberland, Arlington, downtown Philadelphia, West Philadelphia.
As many of us have experienced, Anthony did not hesitate to speak his mind. Occasionally this got him into trouble. I think that this might have been a factor in at least a couple of his unexpected transfers to a new assignment. Anthony was obedient. He went where he was sent and he did very well the assignments he was given – the substance of his vow of obedience. As described in the Rule of the Brothers, the Holy Spirit moved Anthony to identify his will with that of Jesus, who did not come to do his own will but that of the Father who sent him “so that none of these little ones would be lost.”
Another expression of Anthony’s sense of obedience was his preference for the educational service of the poor – so important to St. John Baptist de La Salle. Thirty-one years of his professional ministry were in the St. Gabriel’s System – the Hall and Delsit – and at West Catholic. He liked the challenge of working with urban youth – those who had gotten into trouble and needed help in finding a way out; those striving to stay out of trouble and learning to make good decisions. Anthony did not want any of these little ones to be lost.
It is our faith that Anthony heard these words from His Brother Jesus responding to the testimony of his students: Come, you who are blessed by my Father, your heritage is the Kingdom of Heaven . . . for whatever you did for these least brothers and sisters of mine you did for me.
Enjoy your peace and rest, my brother.
Live Jesus in our hearts! Forever!
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Brother Anthony Baird, FSC
Born Anthony Michael Baird, Jr. in Philadelphia, PA on July 21, 1932
Entered the Ammendale, MD Novitiate on June 15, 1953
Received the Religious Habit and Name Brother Frederick Anthony on September 7, 1953
Pronounced Perpetual Vows at Ocean Rest in Ocean City, NJ on August 27, 1959
Died at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft, NJ on November 22, 2018
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Viewing from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
De La Salle Hall, Lincroft, NJ
Thursday, November 29, 2018
Viewing from 9:30 am to 10:30 am
Mass of Christian Burial @ 10:30 am
La Salle Hall, Beltsville, MD
The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother Anthony with memorial liturgies according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals entrust Brother Anthony to God’s loving care.
Brother Anthony passed away peacefully Thanksgiving Day evening at De La Salle Hall.
May he rest in peace.
Elkins Park, PA: scholasticate
La Salle High School: teacher
Saint Gabriel’s Hall: prefect
Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School: teacher, counselor
Saint Gabriel’s Hall: teacher, principal
La Salle College residence: studies (2nd semester)
De La Salle in Towne: principal, director
West Catholic High School: counselor
Saint Benilde Community: retired
La Salle Hall: retired
De La Salle Hall: retired