This article was originally published in a series of reflections based on the lives of Xaverian Brothers who have played influential roles in the life and development of the Congregation in America. They are written in commemoration of the Xaverian Brothers 150th Anniversary of their arrival in America in 1854.
Written by Brother Cornelius Hubbuch, C.F.X.
In March 2002, Tom More quoted the following from our Fundamental Principles in an open letter to us brothers in which he was advocating a reflective communication titled “View Point:”
You are called by your Founder to enter into a true mutual sharing with your brothers. This sharing will demand of you an opening and a giving of yourself to them at many levels, and a ready acceptance of them in all their sinful and graced humanity.
I believe Tom More himself grew increasingly committed to living the above and he did this in several ways. First of all, he practiced this in his daily, ordinary life at Ryken House. On my visits to Ryken House and Louisville, I personally experienced this since he and I would spend several hours sharing in a fraternal and mutual way what was happening in our lives – spiritually, physically, intellectually, and emotionally. Since Tom spent many hours reading and reflecting on the latest theology and spirituality publications, a highlight for me was in sharing not only what we were reading but also the personal impact of the reading on each of us.
I also observed Tom being attentive, especially through listening to the other brothers living at Ryken House. He had a ready acceptance of each brother in his sinful and graced humanity. No one was excluded as he put into practice to the degree it was possible the above quote from our Fundamental Principles.
The following from Tom’s own words captures the heart of what I’ve been describing:
At Ryken House I have learned to be open to listen to the text of words; not only to listen to my brothers, but to detect their nuances, their shades of meaning, to what is being left unsaid, and then to go beneath the text to listen to the breathing, the silences, the rhythms of the heart beat that gives life to the words. Only then can I begin to relate to others, for I have left room in my heart not only to explicate the text, but to care, to reach out, and to be compassionate.
A second way Tom practiced this mutual sharing with his brothers was through his participation in his intentional group or cluster. Tom was a member of one of the first such groups to be formed, and he continued to participate in such a group until shortly before his death when ill health prevented him from traveling.
Pete Mahoney, a member of the same cluster, remembers Tom More as “the poet of the group and Greg Turlik as the spirit of the group.” According to Pete, “Tom More participated fully in their gatherings and always used his poetic talents to capture in words the heart of what was being shared by each member, and he always seemed to find good in people, especially the ones he lived with in Ryken House. Often they too were part of his poem that was his reflection of his update report.”
Thirdly, Tom believed this aspect of our brotherhood extended outward to all our relationships. His own words describe this well:
The brother knows that his continuous encounter with his vision of brotherhood shapes the inner landscape of his soul and gives him a voice that is only on echo of what lies at the deepest level of his being, where he finds a companionship with his fellow brothers that enables him to bond so readily with all men and women.
In summary, Tom More’s words and his very life give witness to a rich meaning of our brotherhood. During his life Tom held many positions of authority and influence both in our congregation and in the wider church. However, he did it all as brother, a life uncluttered with ambition and power, a life infused with the Gospel values of service and brotherly love, lived in solidarity among the people .
We invite you to reflect on Brother Tom More’s story and consider leaving a comment about someone (a Brother, a colleague, a friend) who embodies similar qualities to Brother Tom. Share with us that individual’s special qualities, so that as a community we can share in your gratitude!