November 3, 2015 // Uncategorized
Brother Roy Smith shares his gifts
NOTRE DAME — It is not every day that you meet someone who turned down a full tuition football scholarship to become a religious brother. Holy Cross Brother Roy Smith, is just such an individual.
Born in Indianapolis in 1943 as the eighth of nine kids to two devout converts of Catholicism, Brother Roy’s upbringing was imbued with the Catholic faith. “The Church, the parish, was very much a part of our life. On holy days of obligation when there was no school, the schedule was Mass, breakfast, chores and then we could go out and play.”
Brother Roy attended Catholic schooling his entire life. As a student at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis, much of Brother Roy’s upbringing revolved around sports. He competed in basketball, football and track, and excelled in all three. As a senior, Brother Roy earned all-state honors, and he began to be noticed by football recruiters.
It seems, however, that God had other plans. Amid the touchdowns and slam dunks, Brother Roy found himself drawn to the brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross who ran the school. He felt as if the brothers noticed and cared about him, and he began to witness the way they mentored and truly cared for students.
Throughout his senior year, Brother Roy had multiple offers to play football in college, including a full tuition scholarship to play football for the University of Louisville.
As the year continued, Brother Roy’s discernment deepened. Brother Roy shared, “Rudy Mueller, the Louisville recruiter, said that if I went to the brothers now and changed my mind later, I could still have the scholarship in one year.” This solidified it for Brother Roy. Upon graduation, Brother Roy hung up his dreams of playing for the Chicago Bears and winning the Super Bowl. Instead, he responded to the vocation of becoming a Congregation of Holy Cross Brother, hoping to impact others in the same way the brothers had impacted his life.
Brother Roy shared that, “I love the Eucharist, but I never felt called to the Priesthood. I was drawn to teaching.”
He continued, “The Lord calls us to be who we are. I was created as a black male and that is the gift, the vehicle, if you will, the Lord asks me to exhibit a part of the face of God. A portion of the way for me to share my gifts has been as a Holy Cross Brother.”
Brother Roy attended St. Edward’s University, majoring in history with a minor in English, and graduated in 1965. “While there,” Brother Roy said, “I had the opportunity to participate in civil rights picketing and demonstrations.”
“Witnessing the dedication and fidelity of participants who were my teachers has been enriching,” he said. “More so they have become my confreres, friends who continue to give their lives for others. In a supportive way they challenge me to be the best I can be.”
The mentoring to him as a high school student that the Holy Cross Brothers provided remained a model for the way Brother Roy has lived his live. After college graduation, Brother Roy was placed at Saint Joseph High School in South Bend. “As a teacher,” Brother Roy said, “I learned the first year and taught the second.” This began a long career of working with youth.
After two years, Brother Roy moved to Milwaukee, working at St. Charles, a home for emotionally-disturbed delinquent boys. His involvement in the civil rights movement continued, as he participated in the open housing marches in Milwaukee in the late 1960s. During his 12 years in Wisconsin, Brother Roy spent five working on his master’s in social work, and he became childcare supervisor. This later came in handy when he worked as a social worker in Boysville in Clinton, Michigan.
In 1978, Brother Roy was asked to be personnel director for the Midwest Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. During this time, Brother Roy said, “one of the joys was to see the great work the brothers did.”
In 1985, Brother Roy began working for Catholic Charities of Fort Wayne-South Bend as a social worker. He was involved in their Rainbow Program, family counseling and refugee resettlement. With the war at Vietnam coming to a close, he worked with quite a few Vietnamese refugees.
In the late 1980s, Brother Roy also served as president of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus.
After Catholic Charities, Brother Roy once again returned to the high-school setting, this time as a social worker. He moved to Holy Trinity High School in Chicago, where he served as a social worker for eight years.
Currently, Brother Roy is the development director for the Congregation of Holy Cross. He serves on a number of boards, including the Black Catholic Advisory Board.
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