Article by Fr. Tom O’Rouke, C.Ss.R
It is both an honour and privilege to have been asked to speak briefly about Brother Francis, and on behalf of the Redemptorists, to express our affection, offer our congratulations and blessing as he marks 60 years of Profession.
I lived with Brother Francis at Holy Redeemer Parish in Sudbury for almost eight years before he moved to the St. Patrick’s community 3 years ago. That is significant to me because there is no other Redemptorist that I have lived with for a longer period of time.
Francis first came to Canada in 1945 to visit his siblings (John, Gerry, and Mary) who had immigrated here before him. With a desire to join them, (and despite what he tends to say about Canada, and all things Canadian), he so fell in love with this beautiful country, that two years later he accepted his brother John’s invitation, and immigrated here as well.
Although he had attended Redemptorist missions in his beloved England, it was the fact that his brother John had rented a farm from Redemptorists in Ennismore, Ontario, near Peterborough, where he himself would work, that Francis made contact with Redemptorists, and began to discover that God was calling him to enter the community as a Brother.
In 1949, he went to Brockville as a postulant, and later entered the Novitiate in Woodstock ON, where he made his first Profession on February 2, 1951. From there, he completed 2nd Novitiate in L’Abord au Plouffe and then lived in several communities that spanned all the way from Charlottetown PEI, to Saint John , NB and several communities in Ontario. As a Brother, Francis touched the hearts of many, as he still continues to do today
While we lived in Sudbury at Holy Redeemer together, I came to know Francis, first and foremost as a man of prayer. Most days, he was the first one up in the morning, and one of last to go to bed. There were not many times throughout the day or evening that you would not find Francis at prayer in the church, or the house chapel or in his room reading the Bible.
He was, and continues to be, a man of hospitality and welcome. Francis loves to be with people and to make them smile. Francis is well known for being a great tease who loves to get a reaction from others. A nice quality about Francis is that he could be teased in return. When he would complain about the Canadian weather, or Canadian tea, and how EVERYTHING was better in England, there were many who would offer to buy him a plane ticket, the only hitch was, that those tickets would be “One-Way.”
He was also a man of service – a devoted sacristan who worked hard and was always attentive to the smallest of details. He was an expert gardener who helped to keep the grounds beautiful. He kept the building secure by making sure that every door and window was locked and secured.
I think some of those here with us this evening Pat Csinos, John & Jackie Rauh, whose children grew up in the parish while Francis was there, along with Mark, his nephew, and Pauline, his niece, could attest to the fact that he had a very special place in his heart for children and young people, and the feeling was mutual.
Brother Francis, today we are celebrating the fact that, so far, you have lived 60 years in the Congregation. That commitment is tremendously inspiring. It provides us all with a great witness of your love of Jesus the Redeemer. I’m sure that St. Alphonsus, St. Gerard, all of our saints and Blesseds are smiling with us this evening, as we give thanks, with you. May you continue to know God’s blessings in your life.