Brother Francis Richards, C.Ss.R. (1917 - 2013)

posted on 04/03/13 03:19 pm by Kathy McMerty  

By Fr. Mark Miller, C.Ss.R.

Brother Francis was born in Liverpool, England on March 23, 1917 (the youngest of five children) and baptized on the same day. He spent much of his early years in an orphanage — St. Vincent’s School in Preston. He worked on farms in England until 1947 when he emigrated to Canada. Here he worked at his brother’s farm, rented from the Redemptorists, near Peterborough. It was there that he met the Redemptorists — he mentioned meeting Fr. Martin Kennedy at a mission and then contacting Fr. Bob MacDonald at St. Alphonsus Parish. He entered the novitiate in L’Abord á Plouffe on Feb. 2, 1950 with Fr. Neil Corbett as his novice master and Fr. Jim Davis as associate. A year later he was professed as a Redemptorist brother. The reports of him in the novitiate are positive and the final one, prophetic: “He should make a good brother and persevere until death.” He was always a cheerful worker and a pleasant presence in the community.

I was struck by the outline of his assignments in one document from 1993:

   1951-52                        Woodstock                            refectorian

   1952-53                        St. Patrick’s, Toronto             sacristan

   1954                             Woodstock                            farm, refectory, maintenance

   Second novitiate            L’Abord á Plouffe

   1955-62                         Charlottetown                        sacristan, all

   1963-64                        London                                  sacristy, garden

   1964-74                        Saint John                               sacristy, garden, house

   1974-80                        St. Patrick’s, Toronto              sacristan

   1981-84                        St. Alphonsus, Windsor           sacristan

   1984-94                        Holy Redeemer, Windsor         Omnia

After the closing of Holy Redeemer College in Windsor, Brother Frances was stationed at Holy Redeemer Parish in Sudbury where he helped in whatever way he could in the community and the parish. He befriended many parishioners and, as two of his brothers (John & Jerry) lived in Sudbury, he was able to enjoy family times. He had a great love for his nieces and nephews. In 2008, due mostly to failing eyesight, he moved to St. Patrick’s in Toronto and then spent most of his last year at LaSalle Manor in Scarborough.

Brother Francis listed his two hobbies as playing the piano and gardening, which to my mind reflect his positive, cheerful outlook on life. He did forget to mention another hobby—teasing the fathers! He was also very, very faithful to prayer.

We shall miss this gentle, cheerful man who was such a dignified and upbeat presence in our midst. May he rest in the Father’s Peace.

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