Brother Thomas P. Lydon
“Stand ready to answer God when He asks you if you are available for Him to become more present in your life and through you to the world.”
The life of Brother Thomas Lydon shows us a man who was eager to do whatever was necessary to further God’s kingdom in the world. The example of Brothers at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx invited Tom to leave his family and friends as a young teenager to travel to St. Joseph Juniorate in Peabody, MA, to prepare the join the Brothers in the traditional ministry of education. There, in the novitiate and college years, Tom had to struggle to become the best teacher he could. He may have reflected on the words of our Founder, Theodore James Ryken, who observed that “…nothing special is achieved without much labor, effort and zeal.” These qualities were hallmarks in his life. Tom was an energetic, hardworking and popular teacher, prefect and coach who served as a model for young men in a half-dozen schools of someone who put his heart and soul into being a Brother for them.
Tom was demanding of his students and athletes, and even more so of himself. Over the years, when he or they did not measure up to his expectations, impatience and anger appeared more and more frequently. Tom had to discover that “God’s ways are not (our) ways.” He had to leave the classroom ministry which had attracted him and where his zeal had produced so much good. God’s personal call to Tom had changed and he “stood ready” to be available in the new world of a treasurer’s office. Staff members at St. Joseph Regional in Montvale, NJ, and, especially at Malden Catholic, were privileged to know a Brother who was careful, hardworking and always ready to be of service to them. After six busy years of service in the MC business office, God asked him to be available for a different ministry, one that would separate him from Xaverian community life. Tom was ready to move back to New York where his loving family needed him to assist in the medical care of his brother, Jim.
When he returned after a year to Malden Catholic where his position had been filled, Tom “stood ready” to find God’s will somewhere else. The zeal of young Brother Cephas in the classroom and on the football field surfaced in his amazing volunteer years helping in the bookstore, in attendance-taking, custodial work and landscaping. His signature hard work in the building or outside in oppressive heat or numbing cold endeared him to adults and students who were attracted to God’s goodness shining through the “…common, ordinary, unspectacular flow of everyday life.”
Physical weakness and increasing confusion caused Tom to have to move to Xaverian House and commute to Malden Catholic with Brother Thomas Fahey for a couple of years. His fulltime retirement invited Tom to “stand ready” to answer the hardest call. Although he helped with weekend dishwashing, Tom became increasingly needy of assistance from nurse Robin Rowell, Brothers and staff members. His lifelong zeal and dedication to duty needed help from everyone to get him to Chapel and dining room, to find the right page in the prayer book, and to eat properly. As at MC, Tom’s combination of goodness and sincerity provided the opportunity for all to see Christ in Tom’s weakness and to experience an enlargement of the heart by watching and assisting him.
Tom’s year or so in nursing homes was necessary so that the twenty-four hour care he required could be provided. For while, his confusion could be somewhat controlled. For the last month or so, in the calm of his sleep, Tom was preparing for that invitation to “stand ready” to go home to God, who welcomed him early Friday morning, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Lord.”
Robert J. Green, C.F.X.