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Xaverian Brothers: An Enduring Legacy

The decreasing number of brothers in the Xaverian brotherhood hasn't stopped them from continuing to form an enduring legacy.

By Evan Rigsby, Editor

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This week I had the opportunity of speaking with Brother Ryan about the future of the Xaverian brotherhood and their sponsored schools. With the decreasing number of brothers in the Xaverian brotherhood, the question rises what does the future hold for the brothers and the wonderful schools they have established? Will a day come when there are no brothers left in Xaverian schools?

Some of the most familiar brothers in the Xavier school community are Brother Ryan, Brother Houlihan, Brother John, and Xavier’s headmaster Brother Brian. In the early days of Xavier High School, numerous school positions were held by the brothers, including principal, assistant principal (which Brother Ryan once held), and with important faculty roles. The decreasing numbers of brothers in our schools is cause for concern for the future of Xaverian schools because of their crucial influence on the spiritual and cultural aspects of our schools.

Brother Fahey, who is presently living at the Brothers’ retirement home at St. John’s Prep School in Danvers, MA, is one example of a brother who had to move on from Xavier. Br. Fahey is a 1954 graduate of Malden Catholic High School. Currently Brother Fahey commutes daily from Danvers to help in the Campus Ministry Office. Brother Fahey had to step down from his position as the “Voice of Xavier” after hip surgery over a year ago.

Brother Ryan explained to me that one of the prominent reasons there are fewer brothers, is age and lack of newly recruited brothers. There are likely multiple reasons why the brotherhood is having difficulty recruiting new members, but age is one of the most prominant. Many of the prospective graduated students are in their twenties while the brotherhood members are all over fifty. One of the youngest members (also over fifty), is currently in Africa trying to recruit more members that could branch out to Kenya and the Congo.

So what changes are needed or have been made to gain more members? Brother Ryan responded that in the past the brothers have made many attempts at recruitment. Events such as Africa trips are among common attempts. He continued by saying “We have established houses of formation in Kenya and the Congo and they have been successful.  Presently there are 57 African brothers, ranging from first-year postulants (just having entered the Congregation) to those who have been in the order over 25 years.” Despite some success in Africa, Brother Ryan says he sees a future where many jobs will not be held by the brothers anymore. He included the position of headmaster as a position that could go through this change. He further stated that “When the times comes (and it’s not that far away) when there will be no more Xaverian Brothers working in the 13 sponsored schools schools, the Xaverian mission will continue with dedicated lay colleagues who are committed to keeping the Xaverian spirit alive based on the virtues of simplicity, trust, zeal, compassion and humility.”

Despite the odds the brotherhood has to face, the spiritual culture they have fostered, and the legacy they have established, will undoubtedly live on through their exceptional schools. Even though school positions may be no longer held by the brothers, they have through their passionate efforts established an enduring Xaverian tradition. The brotherhood is the sole reason for Xavier High School as well as the other Xaverian schools throughout the world. Without the brothers and their passion for education, these schools wouldn’t exist, and for this we should be eternally grateful.

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One Response to “Xaverian Brothers: An Enduring Legacy”

  1. Linda Banwarth on June 4th, 2018 8:05 pm

    My husband and I would love to know how Bro. Houlihan is doing and where he is. He was an inspiring figure for the students (two of which were our sons many years ago) of Xavier HS in Middletown. Bro. Kelly (who we know, sadly, is deceased), Bro. Houlihan and Bro. Larry were wonderful role models for our sons and, indeed, for the parents. Please let him know that he is always in our prayers and that we extend our gratitude for helping to shape these young men.

    Best,
    Linda and Stephen Banwarth

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Xaverian Brothers: An Enduring Legacy