1940 – 2022
Brother Steven Casale, FSC
Born Steven Michael Casale in Philadelphia PA on 4 October 1940
Entered the Ammendale MD Novitiate on 16 June 1958
Received the Religious Habit and Name Stephen Peter on 7 September 1958
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Philadelphia PA on 19 May 1991
Died at Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia PA on 29 August 2022
Words of Remembrance for Brother Steven
Given by Brother Joseph Mahon, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
De La Salle Chapel, La Salle University
September 1, 2022
Good evening. My name is Brother Joseph Mahon. I am a confrere of Brother Steven at Anselm Hall, here on campus, and a novitiate classmate. Next Wednesday is the sixty-fourth anniversary of our reception of the habit and the beginning of our life as Brothers of the Christian Schools. He and I were together for five years in the novitiate at Ammendale and the scholasticate at Elkins Park. We went to different first assignments in 1963. In the intervening fifty-five years until I moved to Anselm Hall, Steve and I never lived in the same community or served in the same ministry. My reflections are helped by those who did live and work with him over the years, but also and especially by Steve’s perspective as he looked back at his life and career.
When I learned about Steve’s death on Monday morning, what immediately came to my mind from somewhere were the words of St. Augustine, “Lord, my heart is restless until it rests in You.” Shortly after, I went to morning prayer. The first psalm we prayed begins,”Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of God?”
During the past few years Steve often seemed restless, to be searching and questioning. Sometimes he appeared burdened, walking head down outside on the campus or pacing the long hallways of our house. I think he may have been praying with questions like those of the psalmist. They are not easy, as Augustine knew. They lead to restlessness, to carrying a cross.
Other times, as Jesus promised it would be, the burden seemed lightened, easier, and Steve would go about his day in his usual quiet, gentle way, ready to tell a story or comment on the stories of others.
I have always been in awe of Steve’s memory. He remembered people and events from long ago, not just in a general way, but with detail. I was especially amused by his knowledge of the demography and geography of Southwest Philadelphia. He knew the boundaries of every parish. If someone in the Community mentioned a person whom Steve also knew, he likely could tell you his parish, his street, sometimes the house number, where his relatives lived. He remembered the names and locations of neighborhood grocery stores, dry cleaners, movie theatres – especially the movie theaters!
Steve knew his roots. He liked his roots. He was proud of his roots. He spoke warmly of his Italian heritage and the wonderful family that nurtured him. He taught us the difference between sauce and gravy, the names of multiple pastas, the unique holiday customs. One of our confreres recalled the easy and gracious hospitality and the excellent meal offered by the Casale family when Steve invited him for lunch after a long drive. Eleanor, Helen, through you we thank your family for the gift of Steve to the Brothers.
Steve valued his education with the Immaculate Heart Sisters at Good Shepherd School and especially with the Brothers at West Catholic High School. Steve wrote for the student newspaper at West and was a prominent participant in Speech and Debate. He was a natural. One confrere remembered Steve’s poise and professionalism when he spoke in our freshman college classes. Another Brother compared Steve’s voice and speaking to that of John Facenda, a legendary announcer for those of us old enough to remember.
Inspired by the Brothers who taught him and perceiving a call from God, Steve joined the Brothers a couple of weeks after graduating from West Catholic and began a life-long pilgrimage in seeking and following God’s will through service to young people as a teacher.
Steve was an honor graduate of La Salle College with a Bachelor’s degree in History and a Master’s degree in Religion. He was a life-long student, earning further degrees and continually attending workshops and conferences to advance his knowledge and professional competence, especially in Sacred Scripture and Theology.
Steve’s first years in ministry were at St. Gabriel’s Hall, (called the Protectory then) where he served as teacher, prefect, and eventually as vice-principal. After this assignment, over the next fifty or so years, he taught in seven different high schools in the legacy Baltimore District.
For personal reasons, Steve withdrew from the order for a period of eleven years. But he continued his ministry of teaching, especially of religion, with the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales at Father Judge High School in Philadelphia.
Blessedly for us, he returned to the Community and began again to serve in the District apostolates, including here at La Salle University as an adjunct professor of religion. Those who worked with him in these various schools knew him to be a thoroughly prepared teacher, highly organized, firm but fair with his students, some of whom could appreciate his dry wit.
For some years before he retired, Steve lived at Jeremy House, the postulancy for new brothers. Although he was not officially assigned to the work of formation, he had a positive influence on the young men there by his fidelity to the religious life and his commitment to the ministries he was serving.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Steve’s tour of duty was when he left the educational apostolates of the District and served for five years at Calcutta House, an agency that provided housing and other services for people living with AIDS and later for three years at St. John’s Hospice, a center city shelter that provided housing, meals, and support for homeless men. What courage Steve had to make that move to work with the terminally ill and the homeless, both on the margins of society. I believe that this was all part of Steve’s searching that I spoke about in the beginning. I sensed a holy restlessness in him during this period. The Lord was leading him to be Brother in different ways to different persons. With a deep spirit of faith, he followed the Lord.
In his official retirement, Steve taught adult classes at the Southwest Philadelphia Community Center, offered Lenten programs in parishes, and volunteered as librarian at San Miguel School, Camden.
What an extraordinary career! What an extraordinary life! Imagine the thousands of people – all ages, in different settings – whose hearts Steve has touched.
Some of those touched hearts are Steve’s friends with whom he was so loyal. Some of you are here tonight. He was a good listener and faithful correspondent by phone or postal mail with classmates, colleagues, Brothers and students.
Steve was a man of the arts. How many concerts, plays, operas, he attended and movies. There are few good movies he has not seen – and remembered in detail years later. He enjoyed books, the English language, Jeopardy – anything that would help him to learn more about the world and its people, past and present, and always happy to share what he had learned.
I forget the name of a novel I read sometime back, but in it, the author describes an Irish elder, who when he learned of the death of someone would say, “Ah, he now knows the answer to the mystery.”
Steve now knows the answer to the mystery, something he searched for all his life. We commend our brother to the Lord with joy and gratitude for having known him. We can also take to heart a lesson from Steve’s life: to follow the Lord with courage wherever he leads. Carry the cross. Pray with the questions that may cause restlessness. The answer is worth it.
May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen
Live, Jesus, in our hearts, forever. Amen
Thursday, 1 September 2022
Visitation – 4.30pm to 6.45pm
Funeral Mass – 7.00pm
La Salle University · De La Salle Chapel
1900 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19141
Friday, 2 September 2022
Rite of Committal & Final Commendation – 11.30am
La Salle Hall
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville MD 20705
De La Salle Cemetery
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville MD 20705
Brother Steven died early Monday morning as a result of cardiac arrest.
The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother Steven with memorial liturgies according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals entrust Brother Steven to God’s loving care.
May he rest in peace.
Elkins Park PA
La Salle College (scholasticate)
La Salle High School
Trinity High School
Saint Gabriel’s Hall
Central Catholic High School
Leave of Absence
Seton-La Salle High School
Saint Frances Academy
Santa Fe NM
Sangre de Cristo (1st semester)
Archbishop John Carroll High School
Calcutta House (Administrator)
West Philadelphia Catholic High School
West Philadelphia Catholic High School
23rd Street Community (resident)
Jersey City NJ
Hudson Catholic High School
La Salle University
Saint John’s Hospice
The San Miguel School of Camden
West Catholic HS Community (resident)
De La Salle Community (resident)
Anselm Hall Community (resident)