Words of Remembrance for Brother Arthur Bangs, FSC
1932 – 2021
Given by Brother Michael McGinniss, FSC
December 16, 2021
De La Salle Chapel, La Salle University
“Keep the Rule, and the Rule will keep you.” Brother Arthur Bangs certainly heard that saying often in his career as a Brother of the Christian Schools. Most Brothers formed before the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960’s would understand it to suggest at least two contrasting approaches to life, or perhaps scripts to follow. The first script would be: keep the Rule, do not deviate, even in the smallest things. The second script looks, from the outside, somewhat like the first: live following the Rule, but live it like a school for faithfulness—faithfulness to yourself and your desire to seek God, faithfulness to the Brothers, with whom you vow to seek God in community, faithfulness to the ministry of teaching, and in particular to your students. Brother Art Bangs lived his life as Brother of the Christian Schools following the second script—and we can see evidence of that choice throughout his life.
Art was faithful to the routines of the Brothers’ life: regular at community prayer and mass (and accompanying the singing at the keyboard); a person of simple tastes and attire; a man who enjoyed community activities, like after-dinner scrabble competitions with Daniel Burke, Patrick Ellis, and Emery Mollenhauer. Truth be told: he enjoyed scrabble but enjoyed it even more when he triumphed over his competitors, all Brothers famous for their talents as professors of English and great wordsmiths. He took pride in talking about the successes of his students–pride that would show as he told stories of Central Catholics’ debate team, which he coached, dominating competitors, like St Justin’s. Those who knew him better realized that he could and did tell that story often. Those who knew him better also realized that his musical talents exceeded his simplified style of accompaniment of community hymn-signing. Jim Black, Brother Art’s nephew’s Facebook page illustrates some of Art’s musical range in a video of Art playing some peppy arrangements of Christmas favorites.
Art, like his Brother contemporaries—earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Theology at La Salle University in 1953 and 1954. Then he went “out to community” to teach at Central Catholic Pittsburgh, O’Connell Arlington, Virginia, St. John’s Washington, DC ; then he went to graduate studies for a doctorate in counseling at Catholic University. After CUA, he started a career at La Salle College, later University, which lasted for nearly 49 years, including three years at La Salle’s Fribourg Program in Switzerland and a semester-long Brothers’ renewal program. Throughout most of his La Salle career, he split duties as a counselor in the Counseling Center and professor in the Education Department, eventually becoming identified with the department’s course in Educational Psychology.
Left out is any indication of how Art may have felt about those moves from one high school to another–how he may have felt about having to pick up and leave a place where he experienced success and re-establish himself in a new school, amid new colleagues and among unfamiliar students. If Art had such frustrations, he kept them to himself, did his job, did it well, and let the results speak for themselves. His influence on his students and the respect of his colleagues testify that he was really following the Rule as a school of faithfulness. In interviews for La Salle publications Art commented that he “got a great fix from teaching” and that “working with young people was the honor of his life”—testimony to his great faithfulness to teaching and students.
Joe Rodgers, one of Art’s students in the later years of Art’s teaching at the University, posted on Facebook: “I was so sad to hear about the passing of my friend and beloved professor, Brother Arthur Bangs. I met Brother Arthur during my freshman year . . .later I had him for Educational Psychology . . .
We remained in touch and I was able to see him one last time this past summer. I learned so much about adolescent development from (him) . . .He always affirmed his students and reminded me each day that I am a winner. I now tell this to my students who may need some extra encouragement. . .”
Dr. Siobahn Conaty, a professor in La Salle’s Art History department shared this to Brother Ed Koronkiewicz:
“He was such a kind and funny presence on campus. He was one of the first Brothers I met as a new faculty member 19 years ago — he introduced himself in the hallway of Olney/Hayman, and I have enjoyed our moments checking in, talking about art, and his quick humor since then. Please extend my condolences to the community.”
Only someone who had moved to living the Rule as a school for fidelity could elicit such endearing and warm words of appreciation.
Brother Art also left behind evidence of even bigger faithfulness when we look at his close relationships to his family of origin. Art gave himself generously to his family—as a loving uncle to his five nephews and nieces, and as a great-uncle to their fifteen children.
Brothers in the local De La Salle Community know first-hand of great-uncle Art from his accounts of his niece Eileen Black, her sister Moira, and brother Jimmy. I can recall specifically one conversation in Eileen’s early La Salle years in which I inadvertently mentioned her having a really nice guy as boyfriend—and did Art quiz me hard on just how nice! And in an act of selflessness that few could contemplate and fewer equal, Brother became a kidney donor to his younger brother. Such a generous act could only come from within a very deep faithfulness and trust in the goodness of God and love for his brother.
In his final years, when Art must have realized that he was “slipping,” as euphemism has it, he lived his final act of fidelity. For someone who didn’t just play scrabble but competed as though he had the dictionary memorized, the loss of memory must have been a cruel torture. Art gave himself up to assignments to our retirement communities, La Salle Hall in Ammendale, and then De La Salle Hall in Lincroft. To the outsider, he was acceding to the directions of the Brother Provincial. But those who knew him realized that Art was doing something deeper, something like Jesus foretold for Peter in John’s gospel: you will give yourself over to those who will bind you and lead you where you would not want to go.
Brother Art—thank you for following the Rule of the Brothers as you did for 72 years, and for learning the lessons of deep fidelity that such following teaches. May the angels and saints welcome you to your final assignment where your searching will at last be fulfilled at the side of Jesus, the real object of your fidelity.
May the soul of Brother Arthur and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts. Forever!
By His Classmate and Friend, Brother Colman Coogan, FSC
It is an honor to be asked to offer these reflections on Brother Arthur whom I have known for seventy-two years dating from our first meeting at the Ammendale Novitiate in June 1949.
Brother Arthur was not just my brother in the religious life but my friend as well. One writer describing friendship has said, “Friendship with a man is friendship with virtue, and does not admit assumptions of superiority”. The regard existing between Arthur and me was all of that and more.
Throughout his life Brother Arthur held his parents in the highest regard. As the oldest child, he tried to do his part by contributing to the family by cutting grass, working in a pharmacy either behind the soda fountain or delivering prescriptions. Later, after his mother saw musical talent in her son, she had him take lessons in piano, clarinet and sax. Often he filled in as a community organist. He proved his love for family as seen in later life when his brother came down with a kidney disease Art donated a kidney to him thus prolong a life that would have otherwise perished.
We saw him as one gifted with superior intelligence, a high achiever, always on the honor roll, Dean’s List, summa cum laude, Ph.D. As an undergrad, he majored in Latin and Greek under Brother Jude Sapone, a master in that field. Arthur enjoyed teaching these classics during his years in Virginia and Pittsburgh. As a joke on himself, he used to laugh because a student he had in a single Math class told him, “You know Brother you are better at math than you are in Latin!”. Serving as coach and Forensics moderator, he helped his students win many prizes; three of these students later visited him at Ammendale much to his delight.
Tenured in La Salle University’s Education Department, Brother taught Ed. Psych for years, later serving in the Counseling Department. A trusted professional, Arthur served the University for nearly forty-five years.
As years progressed, Brother Arthur became a victim of Alzheimer’s Syndrome under which, year by year, his reason became clouded to the point where he had to resign his beloved career. Eventually, moving to assisted living and nursing care, he lost all but the memory of his beloved family, community membership, and some musical talents.
He marveled that he was back at Ammendale where he started; blessing God for the security, care, and life-chosen atmosphere that became his life. It was there that we met again to reflect many times over how special our lives together had been.
As we pay our last respects to Brother Arthur, it is comforting to realize how in death, all of his imperfections have been removed and that he will spend eternity clothed in his resurrected body, in the full passion of his great attributes, even growing in love and understanding for the life he lived.
Above all, faith has coalesced into the reality of seeing forever the grandeur of God and Jesus who has come to take him “to where I am”. May he now live on again in peace and joy. Dear Arthur and friend, Auf Wiedersehen, Requiescat in pace.
Live, Jesus, in our hearts. Forever!
Please Pray for the Repose of the Soul of Brother Arthur Bangs, FSC
Born Arthur Joseph Bangs in Philadelphia PA on 5 January 1932
Died at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft NJ on 11 December 2021
Entered the Ammendale MD Novitiate in 13 June 1949
Received the Religious Habit and Name Daniel Richard on 9 September 1949 Pronounced Perpetual Vows at Ocean Rest in Ocean City NJ on 18 August 1957
Tuesday, 14 December 2021
Private Visitation & Evening Prayer of Remembrance for Residents & Staff
De La Salle Hall
Thursday, 16 December 2021
Visitation – 4.00pm to 7.00pm
Mass of Christian Burial – 7.00pm
La Salle University · De La Salle Chapel
1900 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19141
Friday, 17 December 2021
Private Graveside Prayer Service & Interment for Family – 11.00am
De La Salle Cemetery
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville MD 20705
Brother Arthur passed away due to complications from pneumonia.
The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother Arthur with memorial liturgies according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals entrust Brother Arthur to God’s loving care.
May he rest in peace.
La Salle College (scholasticate)
La Salle College (graduate studies)
Central Catholic High School
Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School
Saint John’s College High School
The Catholic University of America (graduate and post-graduate studies)
De La Salle College
La Salle College
CIL (2nd semester)
La Salle College
American College Program – University of Fribourg
La Salle College/University
La Salle University
La Salle Hall (resident)
De La Salle Hall (resident)