Honoring Brothers and Sisters in the Diocese

This weekend the Diocese of Brooklyn celebrates the jubilee years of the religious brothers and sisters serving our communities. 

Take this opportunity to applaud all of the men and women religious doing many charitable endeavors, with much of their service going barely noticed. 

The fields where men and women religious are present vary greatly, with education being a component at many Catholic parochial schools and high schools. 

However, that is just the tip of the iceberg for the men and women religious in the diocese. The facets of charitable actions, from food pantries to caring for unwed pregnant women, are all activities being supplemented by men and women religious. 

As Sister Maryann Seton Lopiccolo, episcopal delegate for religious in the diocese, said of men and women religious, “I often think of brothers as the forgotten children because sisters and priests get so much attention.” 

The Diocese of Brooklyn currently has 73 brothers, which is roughly half the number of a decade ago. Nevertheless, religious brothers have forged a rich educational history in the diocese, known primarily for founding such schools as Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge and Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood. 

Brothers have taught generations of students; currently, the Christian Brothers teach in the Lasallian tradition at Bishop Loughlin High School in Fort Greene and the Marist Brothers at Archbishop Molloy High School in Briarwood. 

But brothers perform other services, including social work, health care, and feeding the hungry in soup kitchens. 

And despite dwindling numbers, there is a far greater need for these religious men as homelessness, a soaring migrant population, and a growing mental health crisis converge on the diocese. 

The service these men and women religious can and do provide is invaluable to the many parishes and ancillary activities being conducted to help improve the lives of the much less fortunate. 

In The Tablet’s pages this week, you will see these men and women religious, who have served for 50, 60, and 75 years, receiving thanks. Their dedication to their orders and the importance of professing their faith on a daily basis cannot be stressed enough. 

We also focus on the Sisters of St. Dominic of Amityville, which is celebrating its 170th anniversary this year. The women religious focused on education and health care for growing immigrant classes from Europe at the turn of the century. 

In a 2017 talk about the role of brothers in the Church, Father James Heft, president of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at the University of Southern California, said, “The obvious answer for why someone would choose to be a brother is the same as the answer as to why someone would be a sister — vowed consecrated life is a powerful prophetic lay witness in the Church.” 

And the Vatican has said, “The religious brother and sister, by participating in the saving mystery of Christ and the Church, are permanent reminders for all Christian people of the importance of the total gift of self to God and a reminder that the mission of the Church, respecting the various vocations and ministries within it, is one and is shared by all.” 

Many of the brothers and sisters have years on their resumes of teaching in the Catholic high schools within the diocese. 

How many young men and women have gone on to rewarding lives due to the life lessons taught by these religious men and women?