Brother Josiah Benedict FSC Eulogy
A Eulogy for Br. Benedict by Br. Harry Reynolds FSC
The liturgy on a day like this encourages all of us to be happy, but our hearts tell us otherwise. The Bible, too, reminds us that in the midst of life, we are in death. Death is indeed part and parcel of living, and in the abstract we pay grudging homage to its eventuality. It's something different, though, after celebrating the Birth of Jesus so magnificently and reverently in De La Salle University's beautiful chapel a little over a week ago to gather again to mourn the sudden death of Br. J. Benedict, one of the last three of that valiant band of American Brothers who as young men gave themselves completely to this District. Now. Br. Fidelis Leddy and Br. Felix Masson are our only links to a proud and great past.
Benedict was in his element on Christmas Eve in the chapel as he admired the lighting, the decorations, and welcomed alumni and their families to a very beautiful Mass, in no way aware that in a few more days Alumni would be coming back to the chapel in droves to pay homage to his mortal remains, and to relive long-distant days when he taught them. Because of his colourful language, there were people, according to Bro. Felix Masson, who thought that he had been in the American Marine Corps before he joined the Brothers. The truth is that he left his Chicago home at the tender age of thirteen on the long journey to Glencoe, Missouri, to join the Juniorate, the High School for would-be Brothers. Ben had the happiest memories of Glencoe and those who survived with him, and it explains his lifelong membership of the Mid-West Province while at the same time determined to live and die in the Philippines. This was his home -- he always said that -- and this is where he wanted to die. In His kindness, God granted him his dearest wish.
Br. Benedict taught in schools of the Mid-West Province for some 9 or 10 years before arriving in Manila in 1958, a young, vibrant 31-year old, raring to go. He was to remain a member of the Brothers' Community of De La Salle University till his death a few days ago, a span of 46 years in all, surely something of a record in the Philippines if not in the history of the Brothers. Living with him, though, wasn't always an unmixed blessing. He had strong opinions and expressed them forcefully. Because of the magic of email, he was likely at any time to give Br. Armin, Visitor, the benefit of his experience and accumulated wisdom! The Community, too, was not.