Brother Rodney Sulzer, C.F.X.
Brother Rodney Sulzer died at Nazareth Home on Wednesday, November 8, 2023. He was born in Louisville, KY in 1938, the only child of William and Virginia (Goose) Sulzer who predeceased him many years ago. He grew up in Louisville as a member of Holy Spirit Parish and School. He is a graduate of St. Xavier HS, Class of ‘56, after which he entered the Xaverian Brothers. He received the religious name of Brother Pierce.
Brother Rodney was a Xaverian Brother for 67 years. He held three college degrees—a BA from the University Of Detroit and MA’s from both St. John’s University and Bowie State University.
Brother Rodney was man who loved his vocation. With his ever-present smile, short stories that never seemed to end and dedication to his Brothers and congregation, Brother Rodney was faithful to whatever was asked of him. He was graced with a delightful and engaging sense of humor.
Like a Xaverian missionary disciple, Brother Rodney followed his call to serve in a variety of communities, schools, and social groups. He served in Virginia, Michigan, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Bolivia, South Carolina, South Dakota, Florida, and back to the Blue Grass of Kentucky. He helped broaden our horizons for ministry and relationships with persons from so many communities.
While ministering in Rapid City, S.D., he helped the Benedictine Sisters develop their retreat programs. He was a man who enjoyed life helping others to appreciate their gifts.
He served as co-director of our hospitality community in Venice, Florida. Eventually, he accepted the position of Director of Ryken House and gave his time and energy to make sure that the retired Brothers were well cared for. He was guided by our Fundamental Principles:
Listen to your brothers and sisters,
be compassionate with them in their difficulties,
bear with them in their weaknesses,
encourage and support them.
Affirm your brothers and sisters in their gifts,
for by doing so you enable them to realize the gifts that God has given them
His Xaverian ministry is divided into three areas. He taught in several Xaverian schools starting with Flaget High School in the 1960’s, followed by periods in schools in New York and all three Xaverian schools in Maryland up until 1989 when he ended his formal teaching ministry as principal of Mt. St. Jospeh’s HS in Baltimore.
In the mid-1970’s he was part of the Xaverian community in Bolivia. Until the 1990’s and through 2008, Brother Rodney engaged in retreat work, was director of Ryken House and co-director of our community in Venice, FL.
He had a most remarkable transformative experience at the Adrian Dominicans’ center for renewal where he grew in self-awareness and opportunities for future growth and development.
This is reflected in our Xaverian Brothers Fundamental Principles:
You are called then by your Founder
to enter a true mutual sharing
with your brothers and sisters.
This sharing will demand of you
an opening and a giving of yourself to them
at many levels,
and a ready acceptance of each of them
in all their sinful and graced humanity.
In 2008, he retired and returned to Ryken House in Louisville. In 2021, he moved with the Xaverian community to Treyton Oak Towers where he flourished and was well received by the residents. And then in early 2023, he relocated to Nazareth Home, Louisville.
Once again, his life reflected the hopes and dreams expressed in our Fundamental Principles:
At times you will discover
that God’s ways are not your ways,
and God’s thoughts are not your thoughts.
When this happens,
try to surrender yourself trustingly
into the arms of your God,
who knows you,
and loves you.
Our Xaverian Brothers provided Brother Rodney fraternal companionship, encouragement, and compassionate care throughout his retirement.
On the day of his death, a Brother gave him a haircut, another Brother brought Rodney a delicious milk shake – he loved ice cream surprises with abandon! He bantered happily with them.
The phone rang with a call from his dear friend in Michigan. That night Brother Rodney died in his sleep.
He donated his body to the University of Louisville Medical School. Funeral Services will be held at a later date.
A truly happy death! May he rest in peace.
Brother Kenney Gorman, CFX