Brother John Mahoney, CFX
Brother, you are a unique expression of God’s love. Your call is to manifest
His compassion to the peoples of our world in these days.
Brother John Mahoney entered eternal life peacefully on March 17, at Mary Immaculate in Lawrence, MA. John died from double pneumonia. The Feast of Saint Joseph would have marked the 72nd anniversary of his admission to the novitiate. The above words paraphrased from our Fundamental Principles are a fitting motto for John’s life and mission as a Xaverian Brother. John was a unique expression of God’s love. He dutifully responded to his call with conviction, discipline, faith and zeal.
John was born on November 7, 1930 to Jeremiah and Josephine (O’Keefe) Mahoney. Both parents were from Ireland. All of John’s siblings have pre-deceased him: James (CFX), Eugene, Margaret, Josephine, Patricia and Jeremiah. No doubt that John’s parents shared the graces of their Irish culture with their seven children: the love of God, loyalty to family, faithfulness to the Church, care for people in need, hard work, and simplicity. These influences are reflected in John’s embrace of life. Above all, John was a simple man. He had very few personal needs or wants. He was single-minded in responding to his call as a Xaverian. John took the gifts he received from his parents and confreres and used them to manifest God’s love to others.
John first met the Xaverian Brothers as a student at Boys’ Catholic High School in Malden, MA. The example and influence of the Brothers, no doubt, inspired him in the call ‘to live a life of love in faith and trust as a disciple of Jesus in the Congregation of the Brothers of Saint Francis Xavier.’ (FP) On March 19, 1949 he received the Xaverian habit and religious name ‘Crispin.’
A lifelong learner, John continued his formation at Xaverian College in Silver Spring, MD where he launched his professional studies at the Catholic University of America earning his BA in Spanish in 1954. While teaching at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx, he would continue his studies at the highly selective Hunter College in Manhattan and then finish his Masters’ degree at Fordham University in 1965. John also studied at State University New York (SUNY) in New Paltz, NY. He also did theological studies at Washington Theological Union in D.C. as part of his sabbatical. In addition, John served on the renewal team for the Institute for Growth and Development that the Adrian Dominicans sponsored.
The ‘peoples of the world’ that John first encountered in his ministry were students at Mount Saint Joseph, Baltimore, Cardinal Hayes, the Bronx, and Xaverian College where he was also Dean of the College. John was a superb teacher, patient yet demanding. No nonsense. Students acquired not only Spanish vocabulary and grammar but also a real desire to speak the language. He insisted on the use of Spanish in class. John also taught at Saint John’s High School in D.C. which was sponsored by the Christian Brothers. He ended his teaching career at Good Counsel, then located in Wheaton, MD.
...ponder the future with your Brothers, foster an attitude of openness,
….. and a willingness to follow Christ wherever He leads.
Shortly after his sabbatical at the Sangre de Cristo Center in Santa Fe, John felt a call to extend Xaverian mission ‘to those who suffer from want, neglect, and injustice: the poor, the weak and the oppressed of this world.’
Starting in 1983, John would minister among Hispanic migrant workers, along with other Xaverians, in the Diocese of Raleigh, NC. It was a demanding ministry devoid of any creature comforts. His gift for language helped him to accompany the largely Mexican work force. His simplicity, zeal and joy were very evident when at an assembly, he and two other Brothers were asked to talk about their ministry to the migrants.
John would willingly follow as Christ led him to Haiti. By 1989 the American Central Province had entered into a ‘twinning’ relationship with Ti Frè (The Little Brothers of the Incarnation) in Haiti. John and Harry had volunteered to be a Xaverian presence living with the community in Pandyassou in the countryside. John’s language ability was amazing. He learned to speak kreyol very quickly. His ministry was one of presence and accompaniment. The living conditions were rather primitive; no running water and a simple diet of rice and beans. However, John thrived in Haiti. He actively supported the people in their effort to improve their lives by helping them create small businesses. John’s zeal and happiness in his ministry revealed his relationship with God; the source of this compassion for those in need.
In 2001 John returned to Baltimore. Although officially ‘retired’, he continued his commitment to show those in need God’s compassion. He volunteered a couple times a week at My Brothers Keeper, a soup kitchen down the street from Mount Saint Joseph High School as well as at Catholic Charities in West Baltimore. In 2017 John joined the community at Xaverian House in Danvers.
John’s is a simple life story about living our Xaverian charism. His love of God was nurtured by his disciplined practice of prayer, fasting and service to others. His faithfulness to the missionary character of the Congregation impelled him to follow the risen Christ, as did Francis Xavier, whether in a Spanish class with American students, in the fields of North Carolina with Hispanic migrants, in the countryside of Haiti encouraging people who were seeking out an existence, or in Baltimore feeding the poor and unemployed minorities. If we were to create a ‘coat of arms’ for John, I readily see each of these vivid images placed on either side of Francis Xavier who in one hand is holding the cross of the risen Christ and with the other is reaching out to those who long for God’s compassion.
In gratitude we celebrate John’s life. We thank him for his example of living the charism. From his example and those of our confreres who have gone before us, we realize more readily that ‘…the cost of our discipleship is our very life freely consecrated to God in poverty, celibacy and obedience, and offered to the world as a sign of God’s love and care.’ May John now enjoy communion with God, his family and his confreres.
Prepared by Brother Edward Driscoll