Brother Gerard De Beuckelaere, CFX
1935 – 2020
Simplicity is often cited as a characteristic of the Charism of the Xaverian Brothers. Brother Gerard De Beuckelaere was a man of simplicity. It is said also that simplicity is at the heart of religious life. Moreover, simplicity is not innate. To the contrary, Thomas Merton notes that simplicity is to be cultivated and developed by the practice of a sincere and humble acceptance of one’s gifts and shortcomings. Quoting Saint Bernard, Merton reflects that “As religious if we want union with God, let us be obedient and… seek to do what benefits others and not what happens to suit our pleasure or convenience” (On Saint Bernard, 143).
Sincerity, humility and obedience undergird simplicity. They lead to love of God.
Our faith and hope tell us that Brother Gerard is with the Lord. Our fraternal love of Brother Gerard fills us with gratitude for his humble and unassuming contribution to the life and mission we share as Xaverian Brothers.
Born in Brugge, Belgium on January 21, 1935 to Maurits (+1984) and Maria Missine (+1996) De Beuckelaere, Brother Gerard had one brother and four sisters. His family moved to Kortrijk due to his father’s employment. On August 30, 1953 Gerard responded to the initial call “to follow Christ the poor man” by entering the Xaverian Novitiate in Torhout. He was given the religious name Brother Berchmans. Gerard pronounced his first vows August 30, 1955 and three years later, on the same date, he professed perpetual vows.
After completing his technical studies at Leuven, he left for the then Belgian Congo on September 11, 1958. Gerard would spend the next forty-four years in the Congo teaching at the Belgian-Congolese Railway School until 1995. In 1984, the Brothers’ residence attached to the Railway School was converted to a hospital and the Brothers moved to the community house at Sacred Heart Institute in Likasi.
Brother Gerard’s entire active ministry took place in the Congo. He never taught in Belgium. Gerard’s sense of duty to the Xaverian mission in the Congo was evident. He was open and very at home with “the common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life.” In the words of our Fundamental Principles, Gerard helped empower the people of the Congo “so they too would experience, express and share the love of God with the world by putting their giftedness to the service of others.”
Upon finishing his teaching duties at Railway School in 1995, Gerard served as the local superior at Sacred Heart Institute, took care of the material affairs of the community and was also involved in youth ministry at the local parish. In 2002, Gerard returned to the community at Mariastraat, Brugge. In 2016, he moved along with the entire community to Herdershove, a home for the elderly. Over the last few months, Gerard’s health weakened. On January 2, 2020 Gerard was admitted to Saint John’s Hospital where he passed away a few hours later.
Brother Gerard’s funeral Mass with be held at the Cathedral in Brugge on Wednesday, January 8 at 10:00 with burial in the Xaverian plot in Brugge.
We give thanks for Brother Gerard’s life praying that he now enjoys God’s love. May he Rest In Peace.