Words of Remembrance for Brother William Farias, FSC
Given by Brother Dennis Lee, FSC, Visitor/Provincial
Mass of Christian Burial
La Salle Academy Brothers’ Community Chapel
March 13, 2021
Good morning. How good it is that we are all here to remember and to celebrate Bro. Good. Thank you, Tom and the entire family for the gift of Bill to our Institute and to our world. He was so devoted to his family members.
I met Bill when we each appeared at Narragansett as high school seniors. We were both shy teenagers and were on a “come and see” experience of the life of actual novice Brothers that weekend. Much of the weekend was on a schedule, but we had some free time on Saturday afternoon – and the two of us bonded over ping-pong. Bill, the tennis player, never let on that he knew how to go for the kill as we politely lobbed the ball back and forth – for three hours!
On June 28, 1967, twenty 17 year-olds showed up to start our 14 month program in becoming Brothers. As I observed so many new faces, there was Bill. Apparently, we had not scared one another off from entering the Brothers. So began our 50+ years of friendship and brotherhood. Imagine leaving home at 17 for a life that was barely known! What a sense of adventure and courage Bill possessed.
After Narragansett, we became Scholastics in Washington DC for two years. Most of our classes were on the grounds where we lived but Bill and I enrolled in Sociology 101 at Catholic University. Please do not ask me about his attendance record, but that course of studies was an indicator of just how important people have always been to Bill. He drew energy from people and he shared his positivity with them. As Jim Martino has observed, “Bill always tried to find the best in each person and to encourage them to do and be their best.”
For the next four decades, from Albany to Pawtucket to Providence, my contact with Bill was minimal but his impact on his students was profound so let me let his students do the talking:
“Brother Good, the best way I describe you and how much you meant to so many is that you were like a teacher in a movie, plain and simple. You truly cared, became a role model, and impacted people’s lives. I know from being your student that I quickly realized that I need listen to this guy and what he has to say about life and I’m sure I’m not the only one. I’ve used some of your anecdotes with my own daughters and can’t thank you enough for being such an influence in my life. Rest well my friend, the world is a better place to have had you and we will miss you sir!”
“His laugh, his mischievous grin, his sensitivity, the way he got quiet and put one finger over his lips when a student said something important and profound in class… I will forever be indebted to this brother who taught me what it means to be a Lasallian and to be a good human being.”
“This one goes out to Brother William but everyone really knows him as Brother Good because that’s what he is. Brother Good doesn’t have an unkind bone in him. His kindness and wisdom are awe inspiring. It’s tough to pick a singular moment that affected me because everything he did affected me. Taking time away from the curriculum to use his own life experiences in teaching a valuable lesson. And more than just being a teacher, he was a friend. Brother Good is the kind of person who gives you hope for humanity.”
I reconnected with Bill about 17 years ago around the same time that he was diagnosed with a terminal lung disorder. Coughing and lack of sleep and catching his breath became issues that he could not avoid. He went from teaching full-time to part-time to less time – and then to retirement ten years ago. Remarkably, this amazing teacher did not go angrily into retirement. He was aware of his situation.
With this self-awareness and with courage, Bill joined the AA family. He embraced his addiction, which led to his healthy living and it provided him with a life-giving ministry in accompanying many folks who were addressing their own addictions.
Bill wore a cross around his neck for as long as I can remember. It was never flashy and he did not flaunt it, but it was a steady reminder of a man rooted in Jesus. As his health declined over time, he knew that he was not going to live forever but there were some things on his bucket list that he hoped to check off. One was going to the birthplace of Jesus: Bethlehem. He joined a group of Brothers making that pilgrimage and it was a profound moment for him. Others wondered if he could manage the long flight and the hills. The adventuresome Bill did fine. We all know that Bill was fun-loving too. Bob Hazard shared with me a tale of Bill while on a boat on the Sea of Galilee. Bob, could you recount that story? [Bob Hazard told the story of Bill spontaneously standing and joining in a Jewish dance with strangers.]
Also on that bucket list, our adventuresome Bill was interested in seeing our teacher training college in Kenya. The flight was longer than the one to Bethlehem but there were no hills in Nairobi. He became a rock star with the young Brothers and college students he met. I was amazed at how he threw caution to the wind: Coming face to face with baby elephants and giraffes – and meeting students who lived in the worst slums. He took it all in with awe and wonder.
Over the past four years, in conversations with Bill, I have continually marveled at his sincere gratitude and joy for each new day and his stunning embrace of this disease that had such an impact on him.
God bless the family and the hospice staff who provided him with support and comfort during these final months. And who would have known the significance that Ginger would provide? Ginger was a constant companion – a loving, energetic, appreciative canine. While Bill’s energies necessarily waned, his loving and appreciative nature shone strong till the end.
It was courage that brought a shy teen to the Brothers. It was courage that brought 22 year-old Bill to work with court-adjudicated youth; courage that enabled Bill to embrace AA; courage to become an international traveler: and courage to face the reality of this debilitating lung disorder. As one of his students has given testimony, he “taught me how to face struggle and pain with humor, dignity, and good old Portuguese grit.” Amen!
We believe that God has looked upon this courageous joy-maker and said to him the words in Matthew 25: “Well-done good and faithful servant. Now enter into the joy of your Lord.” And our Founder, John Baptist de La Salle, comforts us with his words, on the back of our booklet, “What a consolation for those who have procured the salvation of others, to see in heaven a great number whom they have helped attain so great a happiness.” Enjoy your heavenly reward, Bro. Very Good.
Please Pray for the Repose of the Soul of
Brother William T. Farias, FSC
1950 – 2021
Born William Thomas Farias in Fall River MA on 1 March 1950
Entered the Narragansett RI Novitiate on 1 September 1967
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Albany NY in 1975
Died at HopeHealth Hulitar Hospice Center in Providence RI on 27 February 2021
Saturday, 13 March 2021
private Mass of Christian Burial
private Interment following
Christian Brothers Center – Christian Brothers Cemetery – Narragansett RI
Brother William’s obituary can be found here.
Brother William died peacefully on Saturday morning after a brief respite in hospice care.
The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother William with memorial liturgies according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals entrust Brother William to God’s loving care.
May he rest in peace.
De La Salle College (scholasticate)
La Salle Academy Community (studies)
La Salle School
Saint Raphael Academy
La Salle Academy
North Providence RI
Charles Henry Community (resident)
North Providence RI
Step Brother’s residence (resident)