Words of Remembrance for Brother Peter Henderson, FSC


Brother Joseph Wilkowski, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
Cullen Center for the Performing Arts
Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute
Buffalo, New York
March 8, 2021

Brother Peter Henderson, affectionately known as “Big Pete,” was the epitome of what it means to be a Christian Brother. His life was a personal exemplar of living our Rule. The prophet Danial says, “They who instruct many unto justice shall shine as stars for all eternity.” As an astrophysicist, Peter would be delighted to discover a new star in the night sky.

Our lives as Christian Brothers rest on three pillars: Faith, Service, and Community. I will take each one in turn.

Faith. Peter had a deep prayer life. He could be found in the chapel well before morning and evening prayers, meditating. Even when it was just the two of us at home, he insisted on morning and evening prayer . . .“ wherever two or three are gathered, there I am”.

During the day he would stare out his window, contemplating the universe he had so eagerly studied. He had perfect attendance at the 7:30 a.m. Mass in school, where he met Rosanne Urbanski, our school nurse. If an eighty-five year old man could fall in love, he did. There were other significant people in his life, and he had a heart big enough for them all.

He insisted on going to the 7:30 Sunday Mass at St. Rose, through rain, sleet, or snow. There were times he had to climb a mountain left by the plow to get to the sidewalk. Father Joe, the pastor, and George, the head usher, would express their concern to me whenever Peter did not show up for Mass.

Few knew that he was writing a commentary on the four Gospels. Peter wrote that, as a scientist, he realized that he could not prove that God exists. However, by choosing that there is a God meant to him that the universe makes sense.

Service. Brother Peter’s curriculum vitae could fill a book. In his lifetime, he taught grammar school students, delinquents at Lincoln Hall, young Brothers in Washington, the immigrant poor at Second Street, Palestinian men and women in Bethlehem, and of course, his beloved students at Manhattan College. There are many Ph.D.s in physics who owe him their inspiration. He was known as a Renaissance man at Manhattan, not only teaching physics but also helping to pioneer a cross-disciplinary course in humanities. In his doctoral work in astrophysics, he was one of the first graduate students to work at the Green Banks National Observatory in West Virginia. At sixty-five, he retired from Manhattan College. Well, he re-tired, exchanging those old Goodyears for Michelins and shuffling off to Buffalo where Brother Tom welcomed him with open arms. Although a Ph.D. in science, he insisted on teaching religion. Oh, he did teach a bit of physics, introducing the AP course to SJCI. He reluctantly hung up the chalk at eighty when his aphasia caught up with him.

Community. I would like to offer a few snapshots of Peter’s devotion to his Brothers. In the morning, with his trademark tea, he would wish the Brothers well as they went off to work. In the evening, he would welcome us back for prayer and dinner, asking how the day went. He was disappointed when one of us couldn’t be there.

Mitch Albom wrote “Tuesdays with Morrie”. I could write “Lunches with Peter”. For several years, my schedule allowed me to have lunch at noon, joining Peter in the TV room. If the Mets won the day before, he would be watching the replay. If they lost, it was “The Price is Right” as a prelude to the noon news.

He loved being around other Brothers, faithful to convocations and district days. We thought he would be disappointed when he went to De La Salle Hall. Not so. He met so many old friends that he literally left Brother Chris holding the bags at the door.

Peter had great artistic talent. We are sitting below one of his most visible pieces. In his later years, his interest in art flowed into his love for jigsaw puzzles, spending hours each day solving them. He kept me scouring the local stores and haunting Amazon to keep up… and nothing fewer than 1000 pieces, please! At lunch, he wouldn’t let me leave until I put one or two pieces in. We were told that he died in his chair. I suspect that he died with his puzzles.

He loved sports. He would watch football, pro or college, and golf. His favorite was not Tiger Woods, but Jordan Spieth. He also enjoyed watching St. Joe’s football from the skybox and baseball from his room. At night, he could be found wearing his trademark black beret watching the PBS news. Peter contended that there were only two things a Brother needed to learn, to ski and to play golf.

A famous educator once wrote, “I think that I am a teacher because I am interested in souls.” That is Brother Peter Henderson. Brother Peter Henderson taught the world by his example, what is really important–the touching of souls. We are all blessed to have been in his classroom.

May Peter’s soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of
Brother Peter Henderson, FSC

1932 – 2021

Born Peter John Henderson in New York NY on 1 July 1932
Entered the Barrytown NY Novitiate on 28 June 1950
Received the Religious Habit and Name Anselm Peter on 7 September 1950
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Barrytown NY in 1957
Died at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft NJ on 27 February 2021


Sunday, 7 March 2021

Visitation – 4.00pm to 7.00pm
Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute · The Deacon Richard Winter ’38 Memorial Chapel
845 Kenmore Avenue · Buffalo NY 14223

Monday, 8 March 2021

Mass of Christian Burial – 4.00pm
Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute · Cullen Center for the Performing Arts
845 Kenmore Avenue · Buffalo NY 14223

Due to limited seating, the Mass of Christian Burial will be livestreamed.

Click here to access ZOOM livestream.

Tuesday, 9 March 2021

Interment – 9.00am
Mount Olivet West Cemetery
4000 Elmwood Avenue · Kenmore NY 14217

Brother Peter died suddenly Saturday morning.

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

Messages of condolence may be sent to:

Susan Schulz (niece of Brother Peter)
6300 7 Lakes West · West End NC 27376-9346

May he rest in peace.


Washington DC
The Catholic University of America and
College Park MD
University of Maryland (scholasticate)

New York NY
La Salle Academy

New York NY
Manhattan College High School

Lincolndale NY
Lincoln Hall

Washington DC
De La Salle College

Riverdale NY
Manhattan College

Bethlehem Palestine
Bethlehem University

Riverdale NY
Manhattan College

Buffalo NY
Saint Joseph’s Collegiate Institute

Lincroft NJ
De La Salle Hall (resident)