Words of Remembrance for Brother Thomas Carney, FSC
Given by Brother William Mann, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
Christian Brothers Academy
June 22, 2021
“By faith, as ‘cooperators with Jesus Christ,’ the Brothers dedicate their whole life to the building up of the Reign of God through the service of education.”1
These words of the Rule of the Brothers of the Christian Schools capture for me what was at the core of the life of Brother Thomas Carney … whom I came to know when we were teenagers in Brooklyn at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School … a great place to learn … one that challenged students to meet, and perhaps even exceed, their potential … and where we were taught, guided, and cared for by men … who gently inspired both Tom and I to enter the Brothers.
· Brother John McMahon shares: “Tom and I met at Loughlin … in his junior year. In his senior year, he was a copy editor on the Jamesonian [school newspaper] and I was the moderator. We spent a lot of time together. He frequently took the train to Rosedale to take the copy to the printer … a long way out of his way, I think.”
There were 36 of us – 5 from Loughlin – who travelled to Narragansett on June 30, 1965 … just a few days after graduation … and I remember the Brothers who drove us to the novitiate stopping for lunch at Aunt Carrie’s Restaurant at the Rhode Island seashore … telling us that “once we get there the novice director is in charge and so let’s get you all at least one good meal before it all starts.” Of the 36, many came for a time; but only Tom and I stayed for life. As the final 2, we experienced a lot of “goodbyes”; but there were also so many wonderful companions along the way for whom Tom was always content because, as they found their happiness along other paths, he was lucky enough to find his own happiness as a Brother.
As many at this funeral know, “good teaching is [fundamentally] an act of hospitality toward the young.” It “comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher” … and is often “inspired by memorable mentors” … and Tom, at 17-years-old, was so-inspired and found the right place in the world – his vocation – as a Brother … living in community … enjoying the cherishing and the challenging2 of the minds and hearts of the students entrusted to his care.
What is often forgotten is that, after graduation from The Catholic University of America, Tom had a change of assignments before even arriving at his first one.
· Brother Joseph Schafer shares: “After Washington, Tom was supposed to go to La Salle Providence; but Tony Scotto had an agreement with Steve Dunn for him to go to De La Salle Newport. So Tony sent me to Washington to talk to Tom and see if he was interested … He liked Newport and enjoyed the ‘characters’ in our community … He was a lot of fun to live with.”
Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket – where he moved in 1972 and where he served, on an off, for 32 years – might be viewed as either “the love of his life” or “its crowning jewel.” When he lived across the hall from me in community, I clearly remember the long, long hours during which he would sit dutifully at his desk preparing lessons and marking papers, and occasionally muttering aloud in exasperation.
The students at Saints affectionately gave him the nickname of “Moose,” which he kind of liked. I vividly recall him standing there, with his arms crossed, chuckling “not bad, not bad at all.” He knew that it wasn’t malicious, and he relished that he had their attention.
· Brother Joseph Brienza shares that, in later years, some of the students here at CBA Lincroft, similarly “called him ‘the gentle giant.’ Always cool, calm, and collected. The students loved him, and yet Tom was a demanding teacher.”
· Brother Thomas Casey shares: “His work as a yearbook moderator was extraordinary. A sequence of well-composed texts is part of his legacy … When I was principal at Saints, and unexpectedly needed a vice principal for student life, Tom agreed to serve in that capacity and did so with dedication until a successor was found; and he could return to the classroom. That was his natural habitat.”
Our Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, spoke to the first Brothers about the “thrill of joy” and the “special union” of hearts to be experienced as we Brother teachers arrived, at the end of our earthly journey, in the presence of God and as we heard the voices of all those with and for whom we had toiled and labored here on earth3 … sharing the stories of the blessing we were in their regard … Well, the alumni Facebook Page of Saints bears great witness to Tom’s enduring legacy.
· “So sad to hear of Brother Thomas’ passing … heartbreaking news … he was wonderful, and I adored him … He was a great teacher and a beautiful soul … a mentor and inspiration for me … He made history interesting … I fondly remember his economics class … loved his law class … He taught me to stand up for myself and trust my ideas … He may have been a Mets fan, but … He certainly owns some of what I have become, and I am forever grateful … He was absolutely hands down one of my favorites … He will always have a place in my heart.
A “gentle giant” indeed … And what some of us believe about his allegiance to his beloved Mets was that they helped instill in him the teacher’s much needed “virtue of hope” … for which generations of students have forever been grateful.
As time went on, Tom continued to enjoy baseball (often with his brother Andy, I believe); and he spent more leisure time with golfing, bicycling, and photography. He always loved to be with people. He often just didn’t want to have to talk (unless he was telling a good story), and these pastimes allowed both.
· Brother Ralph Montedoro shares: “Thomas was a good teacher … a history buff … a golfer … a community monk….
· Brother Frank Byrne shares: “My favorite memories of Tom are on the golf course. Every time he’d miss a putt he’d say, ‘And the doctor tells me it’s not my eyes!’ If someone complained that they hit a bad shot because of their golf clubs, Tom would respond, ‘As they say in Ireland, it’s a poor workman who blames his tools!’ After a round of golf last summer, my brother-in-law commented that he had never seen someone throw a golf club as far as Tom could!”
· Brother Thomas Casey shares: “Of course, his unique and authentic laugh is especially memorable. Our time together at Saint Raphael Academy in the ‘70s was when he had young nieces and nephews. I’d hear stories about Breezy Point and his beloved family. I recall that Tonka toys were his go-to gift for the youngest members of his family, and we took to calling him ‘Tonka Tom.’ Trips to the Harp and Bard in Massachusetts for ‘coldies’ and Irish music, alternated with visits to the then Howard Johnson’s on George Street for ice cream sundaes.”
· Brother Daniel Aubin shares: “Tom’s love for baseball led him to accept the JV Baseball coaching job at Bishop Loughlin. Success, however, was not to be his reward. Game after game, his team would lose; but Tom never gave up. A good beer from the tap when he returned to the Brothers’ house was all he needed to lift his spirits as he recounted the games for us … He loved telling jokes or farfetched stories. I don’t know what was funnier, the jokes themselves or his chuckling after he had just told one.”
· Brother Kevin Junk shares: “Tom visited his brother Andy in Connecticut for dinner one day and returned to the community to report that he must have reached ‘that age’ because dinner conversation consisted only of medical conditions and doctors.”
· Brother Robert Ferguson shares: “He was a joy to live with and a joy to call Brother, colleague, and friend.”
Tom’s last dozen years here at CBA Lincroft were good and important years. He was happy in community and happy to be back in the classroom. His journey ended as it had begun, and a couple of days ago a former student emailed Brother Frank Byrne after hearing the news of Tom’s death.
· “Words will not do justice to the feeling I had when learning the news about Brother Tom. Easily one of the best teachers I’ve ever had, from everything from teaching style to sense of humor, he was an absolutely amazing person to have met. I’ll never forget the jokes he’d make…, and the way he knew exactly when we needed to take a break from class and simply have a conversation … Shortly after praying following the news, I felt a presence near me that was inexplicable. I know that he is resting easy….”
· Brother John McMahon, who recently got to spend a lot of time with Tom, shares that by the end: “Tom wanted only to be able to retire … play golf and take up photography again. I hope he can now do both in heaven.”
And so … Regina, Anne Marie, Mary, Peggy, Andy … and the rest of Tom’s extended family … and, consequently, our extended family … we want to express our appreciation to you for having shared Tom with us … and to let you know that we hope we are not saying “goodbye” to you today … as we all say our “goodbyes” to Tom … His delightful presence … his gentle goodness … his great kindness … his amazing wit and chuckle … will be sorely missed … I know that this September 1st – the anniversary of our habit taking – and this December 23rd – his birthday – I’ll no longer be able to send him greetings … and that already saddens me … but it also unites all of us here present, as family, in the love and loss of your brother and our brother Tom.
In a short while, he will be taking his final ride to Narragansett … that beautiful cemetery by the seashore … to be buried with so many of his Brothers and friends … And so, Tom, we bid you “farewell” … and say to you in the words of our Irish forebears:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon the fields; and until we meet again,
may you be held in the palm of God’s hand.4
21 June 2021
Christian Brothers Academy
Lincroft, New Jersey
1 The Rule of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (Rome, 2015), #6.
2 The Courage to Teach, page 21. The Courage to Teach by Parker J. Palmer (Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1998), pages 50, 10, 21, and 3.
3 Cf. Meditations by John Baptist de La Salle (Lasallian Publications, 1994), #208.3.
4 Traditional Gaelic blessing.
Please Pray for the Repose of the Soul of Brother Thomas Carney, FSC
1947 – 2021
Born Thomas John Carney in Brooklyn NY on 23 December 1947
Entered the Narragansett RI Novitiate on 30 June 1965
Received the Religious Habit and Name Thomas Clemens on 1 September 1965
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Pawtucket RI on 11 June 1973
Died at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft NJ on 16 June 2021
Monday, 21 June 2021
Viewing – 9.30am to 11.00am
Christian Brothers Academy
850 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft NJ 07738
Mass of Christian Burial – 11.00am
Christian Brothers Academy
850 Newman Springs Road
Lincroft NJ 07738
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Graveside Prayer Service and Interment – 11.00am
Christian Brothers Center – Christian Brothers Cemetery
635 Ocean Road
Narragansett RI 02882
Brother Thomas died peacefully Wednesday morning after an extended illness.
The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother Thomas with memorial liturgies according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals entrust Brother Thomas to God’s loving care.
May he rest in peace.
The Catholic University of America (scholasticate)
De La Salle Academy
Saint Raphael Academy
La Salle Military Academy
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School
Santa Fe NM
Sangre de Cristo Retreat Center (renewal – 1st semester)
Saint Raphael Academy
Christian Brothers Academy
De La Salle Hall (resident)
To had a great sense of humor. A great person and religious, He was a friend to all and a very dedicated teacher to his students. You will be missed Tom. RIP St. John-Baptist de LaSalle. Pray for us. Live Jesus in our hearts.Forever!
I began with Tom as a junior in Loughlin. We worked together in the school newspaper, the Jamesonian, he as copy editor and I as moderator. He asked me to be his sponsor and I reminded him that his brother Andy, who was then a brother should do the job, if he wanted to. Tom asked Andy. Tom was a gifted teacher. I’m sure he brought his love of history, as well as his wit and humor to the classroom, as he also did to community. I’m sure his outgoing personality and his long tenure at St Ray’s helped activate the alumni.
He loved photography and his many yearbooks display his art. I had the blessing of being with him at the CBA community, Lincroft the last 3 years, and I had the blessing of being with him daily during his days at our nursing home, De La Salle Hall, Lincroft during his final days. He was both determined and at the same time I saw him learning to let go more and more. It is wonderful to see how many have responded to the news of his passing on the CBA site. I hope he is able to take in all the good he has done in his ministry.
I was saddened to hear of Tom’s passing. I was with him in the Novitiate and Scholasticate and again for many years at St. Raphael Academy. We had many great times together…lots of laughs and much sports talk. Tom played an awesome first base in softball…many years ago, of course. He was always a person you could depend on. He was consistent and a straight-shooter in all he did. And though of a conservative bent in many ways, he did join me, Ed Cook and Vic Pantesco in a row across Long Island Sound to Fire Island in the late 60’s when we were at Oakdale for the summer…probably the dumbest thing any of the four of us has ever done. A good man and Brother has gone home. May he be filled with joy and may he know eternal peace.
I AM A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY OF BROTHER TOM AND HAVE BEEN PRIVILEDGED TO BE ABLE TO SHARE AND BE PRESENT FOR MANY OF THE FAMILY OCCASIONS. I’ll never forget the time we were together at Brother Tom’s sister’s (Ann) home and he was giving his opinion to me and I said
Br Tom why are you so abrupt with me — and he said BECAUSE I CAN AND STARTED LAUGHING
BECAUSE HE GOT ME. We then had a very deep discussion about PRE-CANA. MY HUSBAND AND I LED THE PROGRAM AT ST. MARTIN OF TOURS IN AMITYVILLE FOR OVER FIFTEEN YEARS.
MY HEART IS SAD BUT I FEEL CERTAIN BR. TOM KNOWS THE MANY ACCOLADES COMING IN FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY.
GOD LOVES YOU BR. TOM.
AND MY DEEPEST REGRETS TO THE ENTIRE FAMILY.
Sincerely ANN ANSELMO
I am sorry to hear about Tom. He was always jovial and gracious. His smile was infectious.
He was loved by his Brothers and his students.
May God grant him light, refreshment, and peace forever.
Tom was a lifelong friend and never missed sending my husband Doug and me an anniversary card on June 18. I don’t know how he had the time to do that given this size of his family. He had honored us in 1995 by reading at our wedding ceremony in Central Falls, RI. When I did not hear from him this year, I feared something was amiss, and my brother Michael (Saints Class of 1978) sadly conveyed the news of his death yesterday, having seen it in the Saints alumni newsletter. We had hoped he would recover enough to visit us in South Burlington VT this summer and I am so saddened that I cannot connect with him in person again. I had not seen him for several years, although we continued to write to each other.
I did not have Tom as a classroom teacher at Saint Raphael Academy, but he moderated Student Council with great efficiency. Tom helped me practice my Saints graduation speech so many times that by the time I delivered it at graduation in June 1979, I had memorized it. He had me write lots of reminder notes in the margins of the ten pages to slow down or smile. The sparkle in his eyes and his diligence always inspired me. He once told me that he liked who he was best when we were together. As many have already accurately conveyed, Tom loved to share jokes and humorous stories and always was spot on in their delivery. The very best part of listening to him though was his own hearty laugh that was sure to punctuate the punch line. And he was a good sport, having joined me and a group of Boston friends in several 150 mile bike rides to raise money for multiple sclerosis in the early 90s. I would like to think that his developing passion for bike riding added a few years to his life, but not enough. I was hoping for many more years of his loving friendship.
While I deeply regret not having attended his services, I am comforted in reading Brother Bill Mann’s eulogy and the comments from friends and family – thank you for sharing your reflections. I will miss Tom Carney dearly! All my love, Tom (in honor of the way he signed off for forty plus years!)
Tom was one of the good guys. My years living and working with him at St. Ray’s are filled with joyous memories. RIP dear Brother Thomas. 🙏