Reflection by: Brother Louis DeThomasis, FSC

“I have called you by name, you are mine.”
Isaiah 43:1

I first met Brother Stephen in the winter of 1957 at the Novitiate in Barrytown. I was a student at LaSalle Military Academy, and Brother Joseph Finnegan, then Headmaster, took four of us who were interested in the life of the Brothers to visit the Novitiate.

During our visit there, I learned that this young Brother Stephen was called by two different names. His close Novice friends called him “Augie” which reflected his newly acquired religious name, August Stephen, while the more properly disposed Novices always called him, of course, Brother Stephen.

However, twelve years later in 1969 after I had completed my Novitiate, I was assigned to LaSalle Academy in Providence, Rhode Island. It was there that I once again met Augie, or more correctly, Brother Stephen. He was introduced to me by the Principal, Brother Tim Rapa with these words: “Louie, this is George. He is the Vice Principal. He will show you how to be a good Brother at the “Great LaSalle”. (Stephen, Augie, and now— how could it be— that same person is “George”? Really now, “George”!)

However, that wasn’t the most amazing conundrum regarding Brother Stephen’s name—or more precisely “names”. When I met his parents at a Community family gathering, can you imagine what I thought when I heard his mother and father hug him, and with much glee shout out, “Jackie, how are you?” I thought to myself, “Could it be that his parents confused him with another of their sons?” No, that was not possible for he was their only child. It was then that I learned that they called him “Jackie” since John was the legal name they gave him at birth.

As I reflect on his life now that he is in the loving embrace of the Lord forever, I think of the Isaiah passage, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” I wonder if the Lord is confused as to who He has welcomed into His Kingdom? Should the Lord call him, John, Jackie, August, Augie, George or Stephen?

Maybe I can help and give some clarity to this situation.

Lord, no matter who or what he was called throughout his life—

I remember him and call him:

HONEST AND REAL. He never pretended to have the attributes of what was expected of a supposedly perfect and scrupulous Brother. He never portrayed himself as anyone but an authentic person with flaws and shortcomings. He lived his life trying to be caring and good to others with the faults that he readily knew he had. Yet, he could never hide his goodness and affection that he shared with all his students and persons he encountered.

I remember him and call him:

TEACHER. Yes, throughout his many years of service in high schools and universities, he was often asked to serve in administrative positions. He clearly was an organized and efficient administrator; however, his greatest interests and joys were clearly in the classroom, teaching the young people entrusted to his care. He was a teacher, through and through. Whether he was teaching academically gifted bright students or the challenged students, he gave them 100% of his attention and commitment. Throughout these many years, I have met many of his former students. All of them acknowledged that he was demanding; yet, his caring and dedication for their success were always evident to them.

I remember him and call him:

MISCHIEVOUS. Yes, that’s right—mischievous! He had an incredible wit and sense of humor that made him at times a bit rebelliously playful; and yet, he was good natured, kindhearted and gracious. Indeed, a very unlikely combination of qualities that would be difficult for most anyone to pull-off. He did!

I remember him and call him:

BROTHER. If devoting your life to serving others as best you can, with all of your good attributes and simultaneously, with all your personal challenges, then I call that person “Brother.” He certainly was BROTHER!

Lord, don’t be confused as to what to call John, Jackie, August, Augie, George, Stephen. He is BROTHER. (Please Lord, don’t call him by any other names—it will only confuse even your angels!)

May Jesus Live in Our Hearts as he now lives in our Brother Stephen’s heart—FOREVER.

Yes, we have heard the Lord tell our Brother Stephen—

“I have called you by name, you are mine.”

Honestly, I really am curious. I do wonder what name the Lord calls him!

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Brother A. Stephen Rusyn

1939 -2020

Born John Joseph Rusyn in Brooklyn NY on 15 February 1939

Entered the Barrytown NY Novitiate on 16 February 1957

Received the Religious Habit and Name August Stephen on 14 May 1957

Pronounced Perpetual Vows at Manhattan College in Riverdale NY on 1 September 1964

Died at Lake Winona Manor in Winona MN on 17 November 2020


A private interment will take place at Christian Brothers Center Cemetery – Narragansett RI

A Memorial Mass will be celebrated on a date yet to be determined.

Brother Stephen died peacefully on Tuesday after a brief respite in hospice care.

The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother Stephen with memorial liturgies according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals entrust Brother Stephen to God’s loving care.

May he rest in peace.


Washington DC
De La Salle College (scholasticate)

Providence RI
La Salle Academy

Oakdale NY
La Salle Military Academy

Providence RI
La Salle Academy

Pawtucket RI
Saint Raphael Academy

Newport RI
Salve Regina College

Winona MN
Saint Mary’s College of Minnesota

Providence RI
Providence College, CCRI, and Bryant College

Sacramento CA
Christian Brothers High School

Winona MN
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota