Brother William Lyons, C.F.X.
“A gifted teacher and a brilliant scholar” was how one former confrere described Brother William Lyons who succumbed to cancer March 7, 2022 while being cared for at Xaverian House, Danvers, MA. Brother Bill was 84 years old and spent nearly sixty-eight years as a Xaverian Brother.
A native of Worcester and 1954 graduate of St. John’s High School, he entered the Xaverian Brothers following graduation and on September 8, 1954 received the holy habit, taking the religious name Brother Sabinus.
He received his bachelor’s degree from Catholic University in 1960 and a master’s degree in Spanish from Fordham University in 1970. In the mid-1980s he took a well-deserved sabbatical and completed pastoral studies at the Jesuit School of Theology and the Franciscan School of Theology, both in Berkeley, CA.
His teaching ministry began in 1960 at Archbishop Stepinac High School in White Plains, NY. In the next decade, he would teach at other New York high schools, Notre Dame in Utica and Cardinal Hayes in the Bronx.
In 1970, he was assigned to Malden Catholic High School, where he would spend the next fifteen years. A gifted Spanish language teacher, Brother Lyons was chair of the foreign language department and a mentor and advisor to faculty and staff colleagues wherever he was assigned. A student from those days, fondly remembered him “as a kind and effective teacher, who commanded great respect, but was also friendly and approachable.”
Another wrote, “one remembers sometimes the most peculiar little things, though on reflection there is generally something powerful behind that little snippet. ‘Illegitimus non carborundum est’ sticks in my mind as the only phrase in Latin I recall from my days in his freshman English class. Beyond this I think about the lifelong love of words Brother Lyons instilled in me. The life of service to God and man that he and the Brothers exemplified has profoundly impacted me as I found my vocation. He and the other Xaverian Brothers showed me the way with their example of selfless devotion and service. I learned the value of hard work towards achieving team goals rather than individual glory. He was truly an inspirational teacher and I remain so grateful.”
Brother Bill left Malden Catholic in 1985, and when he returned from his sabbatical in California, taught briefly at Bishop Fenwick High School before joining the foreign language department at Saint John’s Prep in 1989. Brother Bill retired from teaching in 2006 and joined the Xaverian Brothers community in Westwood until joining the community at Xaverian House in 2018.
Diagnosed with cancer, he began treatments and eventually made the informed decision to begin palliative care. In his last weeks, he enjoyed wonderful conversations with his confreres, friends and family, thanking them for their love and friendship. As one Brother said after Bill’s passing, “he had an ever-deepening sense of the wideness of God’s mercy and in our last conversation shared with me that ‘it is getting wider and wider.'”
Brother William was my Spanish 1 teacher at Cardinal Hayes High School in 1969-1970. He was by far my favorite teacher and because of him, I also became a Spanish teacher. I taught for 42 years and rarely did week go by that I did not think of him and that class. I always felt successful I looked forward to 4th period every day.
I know that God will reward him for his great dedication to the religious life and his devotion to his students.