In the summer of 1961, after graduating from St. John’s High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, eighteen-year-old William Cushing of North Brookfield recognized a call from God to be a disciple of His Son Jesus, as a member of the Brothers of St. Francis Xavier. He left his home, his parents and brother John, and did not live in Worcester County again until 2017, when he joined the retired Xaverian community on the grounds of St. John’s High School in Shrewsbury. His religious formation was typical for Brothers of that time, with novitiate in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts, and scholasticate in Silver Spring, Maryland. His ministry can be accurately defined as about 30 years in Montvale, New Jersey, and then 20 in Nyeri, Kenya. Bill was an educator in both regions.

Known first as Brother Henry, Bill was a well-prepared and demanding teacher of religion and English at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale, New Jersey, challenging the best students to make good use of their abilities. He was unmerciful to the student continually looking for short cuts, but also very patient and encouraging to students doing the work assigned. He taught them that “the only thing you can control in your life is your effort, so never accept less than your best.” Bill was happy to keep his AP English class even after he became the th Principal of St. Joe’s in 1992.

Among Bill’s extracurricular duties were debate coach, student council moderator, golf coach and athletic director. As AD, his efforts helped St. Joe’s to become an athletic powerhouse in north Jersey, facilitating a healthy enrollment for the future. His interest in athletics continued throughout his life, enthusiastically supporting the Red Sox and, especially, the Boston Bruins.

Bill’s term as Principal was not noted for great flash and sound, but for a very much needed period of fiscal and enrollment stability, solid planning and faculty formation, providing the future renaissance of St. Joseph’s. In 2022, Bill was invited back to Montvale for the 60th anniversary of the school’s opening to be awarded a Lifetime Service Award before a standing room only crowd and a standing ovation.

When Bill completed his tenure as Principal, he was able to follow his longtime interest in Scripture and Scripture Scholarship at several institutions in New Jersey. He was able to study at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem where he developed a sympathy and understanding for the local Palestinian people. Bill was keenly interested in all things pertaining to the Catholic Church, especially the efforts of Pope Francis to move the Church forward in a new and more hopeful direction. He relished studying serious Biblical scholarship and was at home plunging into books and technical commentaries.

In 1997, Bill moved to Christ the King Major Seminary at Nyeri Town in the Eastern/Central Highlands of Kenya, working now for Vincentians in the diocese of Nyeri. He took care of the Seminary library and served on the teaching staff as a qualified teacher of Biblical Theology. He was considered a jovial lecturer and, probably more important, as someone who could provide wise advice and encouragement to the seminarians. Bill was regularly able to travel to Nairobi to spend time and influence with our Xaverian scholastics then in training. Although quite content with his Kenyan ministry, Bill did not like the local cuisine and would scour the local shops in Nyeri for foods which he enjoyed cooking. (While at Xaverian House, he also enjoyed scouring the aisles of Wegmans for choice cheeses and other treats.) Bill was very interested in the future of the Brothers in Kenya when the western Brothers were gone. He was a Regional Counselor and later co-Counselor with Brother Raphael Wanjala, and pushed for the development of institutions the Brothers could staff and use for future income and self-sufficiency.

In 2011, Bill’s 50th anniversary as a Xaverian Brother was celebrated at the Seminary, with speeches from the bishop and members of the clergy. The most eloquent speaker was probably Head Student Charles Ngunjiri who said,

“As a gesture of appreciation we wish to crown you as an African elder. We do this because an African elder has never been thought of as a burden to the community, but rather he is held in a highly esteemed position. Briefly, an African elder is a fountain of wisdom. You are our guide and we wish to consult you for our growth.”

Here at Xaverian House, Bill’s schedule was simple prayers, Mass, meals with the community, time on the porch with the latest novel and his pipe, shopping at Wegman’s, and continuing to reflect and study Sacred Scripture. Several months ago, Bill volunteered to lead the Brothers of the North of Boston Region in monthly prayer and discussion, including use of Pope Francis’ encyclical Fratelli Tutti.

Bill’s last months have been very difficult for him, unable to be in charge of his life and needs, attached to monitors, deprived of privacy. Perhaps he has been able to reflect on words of 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 Father, who knows you, understands you, and loves you. Perhaps you can repeat with your Founder this simple prayer which he cherished: O Lord, I cannot understand your ways, but I must adore them.“

In Memoriam prepared by Brother Robert J. Green, C.F.X. 

Funeral Arrangements

Friday, June 21, 2024
St. John’s Preparatory School Chapel
Viewing at 10:00am
Mass at 11:00am
Reception will be held at Xaverian House after burial
in Brothers’ cemetery

Livestream for Funeral Liturgy

5 comments on “Brother William Cushing, C.F.X.

  1. Tim Pollock on

    I owe so much of my academic success and success as a lawyer to Brother William. He was very demanding as an English teacher. I remember my first paper coming back completely obliterated by a sea of red ink. He certainly taught me how to write. I am forever indebted to him.
    I also recall that he was a great Boston Bruins fan and used to torture me when the Bruins beat my beloved Rangers.

    We will miss Brother William.

  2. Bob Griffin on

    Brother Cushing was the best teacher I ever had — and the best debate coach. He had a lasting influence on my my development as a man and as a Christian. I am forever in his debt and I deeply mourn the passing of this great mentor. Rest in peace, Bill.

  3. John Faggello on

    Rest in peace, Brother William. You were one of a kind and will be dearly missed. Rest knowing that you have made an indelible impact in this world and, specifically, for all at SJR that had the good fortune to know you – John Faggello Class of 1987

  4. Rev. Andrew P. Carrozza on

    Brother William taught us well. To this day I remember his format for writing a five-paragraph essay, which has become a foundation in my own logical preparation of a homily. He taught that every sentence must logically flow to the next, every paragraph to the next, etc. I will never forget two essay topics he assigned. One was the very first one he gave us in sophomore English to teach us what NOT to use in an essay: “Language is what you want it to be.” After our essays were graded, he pointed out everything in them that made them weak so that we would learn how to construct better arguments in the future. The second was this: “Christmas is now or it never was. – five paragraphs please gentlemen.” He was an amazing teacher! We need more teachers like him today.


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