Welcome Remarks for Funeral of Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J. ’49

July 9th, 2012 by 


Photo by: Rob Carlin

By Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., president

On behalf of the extended Holy Cross community, I would like to welcome you to this celebration of the life and ministry of Father John Brooks, S.J., 29th President of Holy Cross. We are faculty and staff, grounds-keepers and students, Trustees and food service personnel, alumni and Public Safety officers, coaches and chaplains. We welcome members of the episcopacy and public officials, business leaders and neighbors, fellow academics and members of the local clergy, as well as the broader Jesuit community, and most especially Father’s extended family: his sisters, Mildred and Marion, his brother, Paul, sister-in-law, Dorothy, and their children Maureen, Paul, John and their families, and many cousins. This morning, we are united in our sorrow and our deep affection for Father John Brooks, and we come together in this sacred space with gratitude for all the ways our loving God has blessed us through him. We also draw on Father Brooks’ deep Faith and Hope to augment our shared desire that our gracious God who has given us all the gift of life, will also bestow on us eternal life in Christ.

My predecessor, Father Michael McFarland, S.J., cannot be with us today as he is representing the New England Province at an international meeting of Jesuits in Nairobi, Kenya, but he joins us in spirit and prayer, as do many other members of our Holy Cross family who are abroad but have sent us their condolences and prayers. Although I am a more recent member of the Holy Cross community, I was very blessed to spend a great deal of time with Father Brooks in the final week of his life. I can assure you that as he was in life, he was in death: thoughtful, engaged, and peaceful; he very deliberately thanked each nurse, doctor and technician by name as they treated him; and he faced his future with a calm certainty that he would see his loving God face-to-face. He wasn’t anxious or fearful, but rather centered and receptive to the wonder of this new experience.

Until the very end, John kept that brightness in his eyes signaling his enjoyment of the beauty of life, the interchange of ideas, the diversity of human personalities, and always his passion for Holy Cross. As a formed Jesuit, he never worked anywhere else; and over the years he became not just the president but the personality of Holy Cross. His commitment to academic excellence, to diversity and inclusion, to a measured approach to athletics, to the professional development of the faculty, to critically-engaged theology and to our Catholic and Jesuit identity has become the imprint of all that we do today. He was a man with a determined will and great strength of character, but not an over-sized ego. He always recognized the leadership of his friend and predecessor, Father Raymond Swords, and the talents and gifts of his administrative team, faculty and students.

In 2009, Father Brooks was interviewed as part of the New England Province Oral History Program. The interviewer asked him about his life and family, his formation and ministry, and then concluded by asking him: “As he looked back over his life, had he felt the presence and influence of God’s providence?” This is how Father Brooks responded:

“Yes, definitely.  God is always at work in our lives. There is no way I could have survived twenty-four years as President of Holy Cross without God’s presence every day.

“As for my personal life, I have a much deeper understanding and gratitude towards God than I ever had in my younger days.  I don’t find myself complaining much these days.  I’m much more aware of the fact that my entire life has been a gift.  There is nothing I’ve done entirely on my own.  While in the past I undoubtedly took many of life’s gifts for granted, I’ve now reached a stage of life where I know more than I once did of the importance of the role God plays in my life.  I’ve had a very happy life in the Society of Jesus, for which I am genuinely grateful.”

At one point last Monday morning, when Father Savard had returned to Ciampi Hall to get Father Markey, I was sitting next to Father Brooks’ bed praying. I recalled a reading from the liturgy a few weeks earlier from the Second Book of Kings where the prophet, Elijah, preparing to be taken up into heaven, departs for the Jordan. Elisha, his faithful disciple accompanies him, knowing what is about to take place. After they crossed the river, Elijah says to Elisha: “Ask for whatever I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” And Elisha answers: “May I receive a double portion of your spirit.” Well, I laughed a bit at that, since it seemed a bit presumptuous of me to ask John for a double portion of his spirit; and I was sure that if he answered my prayer, you might not be able to put up with me! But I did ask John to bless me with his courage, his wisdom, and his vision in my service to Holy Cross. Today, as we celebrate the life and ministry of Father John Brooks, may we all be similarly blessed as he crosses into God’s loving embrace.

Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., is the current president of Holy Cross.

Related Information:

Boroughs Welcome Remarks by Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J. »
Markey Homily by Rev. Earle Markey, S.J. ’53 »
Condron Eulogy by P. Kevin Condron ’67 »
Brooks Reflections on Rev. John E. Brooks, S.J. ’49, Delivered on July 8 at His Wake by Frank Vellaccio »
| More

 

Comments (1)
  1. Barbara West says:

    Wonderful article and amazing man! I certainly wish I had known him while he was living. However, after reading this, I feel like I knew him well. What a blessing he was for all of the Holy Cross family.

    My daughter, Tracy West Barlok, has just started her new job at Holy Cross. We are all so proud and pleased that she is now associated with such an outstanding institution. Father Brooks had so much to do with this. It was an honor to read all about him. Indeed, he was Holy Cross!

07/21/16 Holy Cross Professors Discuss Economic Uncertainty in the Wake of Brexit
07/19/16 Message from President Regarding Recent Events
07/18/16 Holy Cross Professor Helps Demystify How America Views Medicated Children
07/15/16 Holy Cross Mathematics Professor is Named Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society
See All
See All
Featured Videos

See video
Video: Total Giving to Holy Cross Breaks Record With $46.7 Million Raised

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Spring Blooms on Holy Cross Campus

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Class of 2016 Shares What’s Next

Watch Video >
See video
‘Major in Anything…Succeed in Business’

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery, Video: Obama Advisor Broderick Johnson ’78 Speaks on ‘My Brother’s Keeper,’ Other White House Initiatives

Watch Video >
See video
Crusaders Win Patriot League Championship

Watch Video >
See video
Men’s Basketball Knocks Off Bucknell In Double Overtime Thriller

Watch Video >
See video
New Webcams Provide Live Video Stream of Campus, Contemplative Center

Watch Video >
See video
Photo Gallery: Contemplative Center Architectural Concepts Come to Fruition

Watch Video >
See video
Video: Winter on the Hill Is All About Making Memories

Watch Video >
More What’s Happening on Campus

Family Wee

nd 2016

See More >
Family Wee

nd 2016

See More >
Family Wee

nd 2016

See More >
Holy Cross

nstallation Opening and Artist Reception

See More >
More Holy Cross in the News

07/18/16

Holy Cross Professor Helps Demystify How America Views Medicated Children

Pacific Standard | The Week

  The Pacific Standard picked the brain of Ara Francis, assistant professor of sociology at the College of the Holy Cross, to myth-bust the way America understands...

07/11/16

Holy Cross Alumna Making Headlines for her Fight Against Tobacco

Forbes | Yahoo! Finance | Christian Science Monitor |Drug Store News

For Eileen Howard Boone ’86, “the social responsibility part of corporate leadership started as a side job and blossomed into an entire career,” according to a recent...

07/08/16

Holy Cross Ranks No. 25 Among Liberal Arts Colleges on Forbes’ List of America’s Top Colleges

College receives an ‘A+’ for Fiscal Soundness

The College of the Holy Cross ranked No. 25 among liberal arts colleges, No. 42 among private colleges and No. 51 overall in a group of more than 650 public and private...