1922 – 2018
Brother Edwin (Patrick Joseph Boissonneau), our oldest Xaverian Brother, marked seventy-eight years in the Congregation on August 15, 2018.
Brother Edwin was born in Black Lake in the Province of Quebec, Canada to Odilon and Orea Boissonneau. Edwin had two sisters, Irene and Fernande, and two brothers, Roland and Roger. Despite his Canadian birthplace, the Boissonneau family lived in Malden, Massachusetts. Edwin did his freshman year (1936-1937) at Malden Catholic when Brother Gilbert was principal before entering St. Joseph’s Juniorate in Peabody. Upon graduation from the Juniorate in 1940, Edwin entered Sacred Heart Novitiate in Fort Monroe, Virginia. He received the habit of the Xaverian Brothers and the religious name ‘Edwin.’
Edwin studied at Catholic University (1941-1944) when he was sent to Saint Matthews’s Grade School in Brooklyn. He finished his undergraduate degree in French at St. John’s University. He would also earn his Masters in French from St. John’s. His study of French would take him to Grenoble, France, Laval University, Quebec and Rivier College in New Hampshire.
Edwin’s teaching ministry encompassed elementary, secondary and college instruction. He taught at Mt. St. Joseph High School in Baltimore (1947-1949) before spending seven years at St. Michael’s in Brooklyn (1949-1956) where he was revered by his students.
From 1956-1958 Edwin would serve as the Director of Studies at St. John’s Prep and then return to Brooklyn where he taught French at St. Michael’s/Xaverian High School from 1958-1960. He would also teach at Xaverian College before returning to St. John’s Prep from 1962-1969. Edwin volunteered for our missions in Kenya and spent from 1969-1975 in Mumias. Upon returning to the United States, Edwin taught at St. John’s Prep from 1975 to 1993 before going to the Cadiz Road Community in Venice, Florida. Edwin returned to Xaverian House in 1997 and was a member of the community until his death.
The words of one of his former students help describe Edwin’s spirit. As a student at St. Michael’s in Brooklyn, Don Reilly had Edwin from French and basketball. Don, shares these memories of Edwin. “Brother Edwin was ‘all things to all students.’ I saw that quality in him in the classroom, on the basketball court and in general conversations with him. Crowds of student always surrounded him at lunchtime and after school. In the classroom, he was all business, well prepared and expecting us to be also. He was a good disciplinarian but he moderated his discipline with a sense of humor.”
Love of his Xaverian vocation, the importance of his relationship with God and his loyalty and helpfulness to his Brothers in community are lessons we learn from Edwin’s life. All who knew him will also remember his humor and his fierce competiveness whether for sports at Saint John’s Prep or the Patriots or Red Sox or his famous Friday night poker games.
May Brother Edwin enjoy the peace that Christ promises to those who do the will of His Father.
Brother Edward Driscoll