Religious brothers celebrate anniversaries

On Saturday, June 28, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley, OFM Cap. celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Religious Brothers of the archdiocese who are celebrating anniversaries in 2008.

Brother Damien (Patrick) Chong, O.Carm. from Hawaii will celebrate 50 years as a Carmelite Brother on Sept. 8.

Brother Damien was born in Hamakuapoko, Maui, son of the late Libert and Hannah (Akee) Chong. He came from a large family (13 children, he being the 12th) and attended Holy Rosary Grammar School in Paia (staffed by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet), St. Louis High School in Honolulu, Oahu (staffed by the Society of Mary) and Archbishop Carroll (staffed by the Augustinians) in Washington D.C.

He made his first vows in 1958 at the Carmelite Brothers’ House of Studies and Novitiate and Solemn Vows in 1961. Brother began a nearly 27-year career in education teaching in California at Crespi Carmelite High School in Encino and Mt. Carmel High School in Los Angeles. He then spent 10 years as associate pastor at St. Gelasius Parish in the South Side of Chicago, Ill. (his favorite assignment), working with the poor and homeless. His present assignment is in Peabody, Mass., working at the Carmelite Chapel in the Northshore Shopping Mall and the Carmelite Priory, which is a contemplative retirement house.

Brother William Spokesfield, SJ, entered the Society of Jesus at age 42. He always had the desire to be a missionary. Brother William spent 20 years in Brazil as a “jack of all trades” doing anything that needed to be done to support the mission. When he returned to the United States, he took care of the retreat house. Brother now resides at Campion Center and will be 92 in January.

Brother Arcadius Alkonis, CFX, is the son of the late Stanley and Anna Alkonis and was born on Dec. 20, 1930, in Sacred Heart Parish in West Lynn. Brother Alkonis attended public schools and St. Mary Boys’ High School, class of 1948.

Brother Alkonis entered the Xaverian Brothers at Sacred Heart novitiate at Ft. Monroe, Va. in September 1948. After vestition and profession he attended Xaverian College, in Silver Spring, Md. from 1950-1952.

He was missioned to Brooklyn, N.Y. and attended St. John’s University from 1952-1958 and taught at Holy Cross School and St. Teresa School.

He also taught at St. Joseph Preparatory School, Bardstown, Ky. 1958-1960 and Cardinal Hayes High School, Bronx, N.Y. 1960-1961.

From 1961-1985 Brother Alkonis was part of the Xaverian East African Missions. His assignments included: St. Augustine Teachers College, Eregi, Kenya; St. Joseph Teachers College, Kitale, Kenya; Our Lady Secondary School, Kaimosi, Kenya; St. Joseph Secondary School, headmaster, Kitale, Kenya; Mumias Secondary School, Mumias, Kenya; St. Peter Seminary, Provincial Delegate, Mukumi, Kenya; and Brother Alkonis is presently assigned to St. John Preparatory School as assistant librarian and archivist.

Brother Richard Hastings, CFX, entered the Xaverian Brothers in 1948. He has taught science at many of the Xaverian Schools.

The ministry of Brother Joseph Comber, CFX, as a Xaverian is divided into two parts: From 1964-67 and again from 1973-1994, Brother Comber taught religion, Latin and German at St. John Prep in Danvers. During this period, he also taught scripture part-time at St. John Seminary in Brighton, from 1975-79.

In 1994, Brother Comber became a Certified Nursing Assistant and has worked in this capacity up to the present at Mary Immaculate Nursing and Restorative Center in Lawrence. For the past eight years in the Restorative Program, Brother Comber has helped residents with walking, exercise, and other activities of daily living.

Brother Comber received a bachelor’s degree from Catholic University in Washington in Latin in 1964, an master’s degree in biblicalstudies from Saint Louis University in 1969, and a doctorate in biblical studies (New Testament) from the University of Chicago in 1975.

Brother Ernest G. Beland, FMS, graduated from St. Joseph High School in Lowell and was recruited by Brother Giles, his basketball coach and moderator. Brother Beland entered the Novitiate in Tyngsborough on Aug. 2, 1957. Brother Beland received the habit on July 26, 1958 and professed his first vows in 1959. He received a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Marist College in 1962.

Brother Beland’s first assignment was St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, Conn., where he taught world history, algebra, French, Latin and religion from 1962-1964. From 1964-1966, he coached the junior varsity basketball team to an undefeated season. He also taught French, algebra, religion and world history. From 1967-1968, Brother Beland taught English at St. Joseph High School in Lowell, Mass. From 1968-1969, he taught at Marist High School in Eugene, Or. There he coached baseball and basketball and directed several classroom plays in addition to his classroom responsibilities for English literature and religion.

From 1969 the present, Brother Beland has been the director of the House of Formation and worked as a volunteer on weekends at Lazarus House in Lawrence. Brother Beland has a master’s degree in English Literature from New York University. He will begin his 40th year teaching at Central Catholic in Lawrence in September 2008.

Brother William Drinan, CFX, is a member of the Corporate Board of the Sponsored Ministries of the Sisters of Saint St. Joseph. Brother taught for many years at the Xaverian Brothers High School in Bangor, Maine, and St. John Prep in Danvers.

Brother was the headmaster of Xaverian Brothers in Westwood, principal at Archbishop Williams High School in Braintree and headmaster at St. John Prep from 1989-2001. Brother Drinan retired in 2001.

Brother Louis Marek, SA, entered the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in 1958 and was professed in 1961. He earned an AB at Providence College and an master’s degree in theology at Boston College. Among his many assignments, he has served at Our Lady of the Atonement Novitiate in Cumberland, R.I., was on the pastoral team at the Church of the Atonement in Windsor, Ontario, and was once CCD Director of St. James Parish in Medford. From 1980 to 1984, he taught religious studies at Malden Catholic High School in Malden, Mass. A former secretary general for the Friars, he has served as pilgrimage director at Graymoor, and was student ministries coordinator at Atonement Seminary in Washington, D.C. He has served at the Chapel of Our Savior in Brockton since 1993.

Brother Savio McNeice, SA, was born in Pittsfield, Mass., where he graduated from St. Joseph Central High School. He entered the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement in 1958 and was professed in 1961. Early in his career, Brother Savio worked in the culinary departments at various friars’ seminaries and residences at Graymoor, Cumberland, R.I., Saranac Lake, N.Y. and Washington, D.C. During these years he was also active in CCD work and rehabilitation in the field of alcoholism. From 1982 until 2000, he was involved in social service and parish ministries at St. Paul and St. Joseph the Worker parishes in Vancouver, British Columbia. He has served at the Chapel of Our Savior in Brockton since 2000.

Brother Robert Dutil, OMI, entered the Oblates of Mary Immaculate after careers in the Air Force and as a display manager. Brother Dutil was married and is the father of five children. After the death of his wife, he heard the call to religious life.

A year after the death of his beloved wife, Brother Dutil went to see a priest, an Oblate at Saint Paul Center in Augusta, Maine. Brother Dutil told Father George of his intention. Brother Dutil professed First Vows on Dec. 8, 1983, and happily admits: “It has been a very full life. God has been with me all the way. I say thank you to God for this great life to which he has guided me, my vocation: A Brother with these great men, the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.”

Brother Don Champagne, SVD, was born in Milwaukee, Wis., in 1937. He entered the high school for Brothers operated by the Society of the Divine Word at Techny, Ill., in 1951. He professed first vows in 1958 and final vows in 1964.

Brother Don has a bachelor’s degree in music education with a concentration in voice. He has served in high school and college seminaries as a teacher, formation director and year-abroad director. In 1991, he was assigned as music minister of Miramar Retreat Center, Duxbury, Mass. He does volunteer ministry for those living with HIV/AIDS and visiting the elderly in nursing homes. In 2005, he was appointed director of Miramar Retreat Center and superior of his religious community. He has served on the Board of the Religious Brothers Conference for five years and two years as vice-president of the Conference.

Sister Marian Batho, CSJ, is Delegate for Religious in the archdiocese.