September 4, 2021 // Diocese

Holy Cross Brothers to celebrate jubilees

NOTRE DAME — Several Holy Cross Brothers are observing jubilees this year and will celebrate the occasion Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Notre Dame. Because of pandemic restrictions last year, the 2020 jubilarians will also be honored at this year’s jubilee liturgy. The combined group of honorees follows.

2020 80-year jubilarian

Brother Wilbert Leveling, CSC

Wilbert Leveling was born in St. Paul, Iowa. He and his family moved to Fort Madison, Iowa, where he attended St. Joseph High School. Leveling learned of the Brothers of the Holy Cross from an ad in Sign Magazine. He responded and began his religious formation at Sacred Heart Postulate in Watertown, Wisconsin, and then at St. Joseph’s Novitiate in Rolling Prairie.

After taking his first vows, Brother Wilbert began undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame. His first teaching assignment was to Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. He later returned to Notre Dame for his master’s in history, followed by postgraduate studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. He also studied at Loretto Heights College in Denver, Colorado. Over the years, he has taught at St. Joseph High School in South Bend, Vincentian Institute in Albany, New York, Holy Trinity High School in Chicago, Illinois, and 35 years at Holy Cross High School in River Grove, Illinois. 

Brother Wilbert was invited to be a guide at St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal for 11 summers. “It was a wonderful experience,” he said. “I got to meet people from all over the world. I would welcome them to the Oratory and then talk to them about Brother André, now St. Brother André.”

On returning to the Notre Dame area, Brother Wilbert served as archivist for Holy Cross Brothers, Midwest Province, for more than three decades.

2020 70-year jubilarians

Brother John Benesh, CSC

When John Benesh was in seventh grade, he decided that he would be a teaching brother. In 1949, while a freshman at Marquette University, he visited the Holy Cross Postulate in Watertown, Wisconsin. 

“The men there were friendly and the food was good, so I joined Holy Cross!” he recalled.

Brother John spent many years in high school classrooms, but has also been a high school principal, college teacher, postulant director, retreat director and University of Notre Dame residence hall rector. 

After leaving Notre Dame, Brother John thought he would be a high school teacher in the United States for the rest of his life, but God had other plans. In 1978, he moved to Holy Trinity High School in Chicago. He noticed that many of the parents there spoke only Spanish. He was motivated to learn Spanish and able to attend a language school in Mexico during the summers of 1982-83.

Other Holy Cross men heard about his studies, and this led to an invitation to visit Peru. He visited Peru in the summer of 1984 and went to the locations where Holy Cross religious were working. The people were poor, and the living conditions were very simple. He was not sure he could adjust.

After much thought and the encouragement of others, Brother John was able to move to Peru with a three-year commitment. He survived and adjusted to Peru, both in Chimbote and in Lima. October of 2020 marked 35 years in Peru. 

Brother Ronald Christenson, CSC

When Ronald Christenson was in eighth grade at St. Mary’s School in Racine, Wisconsin, a Holy Cross brother gave a talk to the class. Later, Christenson saw an ad for the brothers in Our Sunday Visitor and met with Brother Thomas More Beere at his home. In high school Christenson wrote to the brothers and received some literature. Later he visited the community at Watertown, Wisconsin, and was impressed. The brothers invited him to join the following February, and he stayed. 

In his career, Brother Ronald has taught in Brooklyn, New York and Indianapolis. He has worked summers at boys’ homes in Terre Haute and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received a favorable impression of mission work and was asked to obtain a passport with a visa for East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. 

Brother Ronald left the United States in March of 1960 and spent 31 years in Bangladesh. There he taught in grade schools and high schools and ran a house of studies for college-age men who wanted to join Holy Cross. He turned that work over to a Bangladeshi brother in 1988.

In 1991, Brother Ronald returned to the United States for good. He did chaplain work in hospitals until 1998, when he retired to Columba Hall at Notre Dame.

Brother Ronald thinks that all his assignments prepared him well for the life of a brother. “I would not change it for any other vocation,” he said.

2020 60-year jubilarians

Brother George Klawitter, CSC

George Klawitter was raised in Steger, Illinois, the second of four children. Inspired by the School Sisters of St. Francis at Steger’s St. Liborius Grade School, he enrolled at Sacred Heart Juniorate in Watertown, Wisconsin at age 13 to become a teaching brother.

In 1956, the high school program at Watertown closed. George finished high school at Holy Cross School in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1963, Brother George began his teaching career at Monroe Catholic Central in Michigan. After four years, he went to teach at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis and then at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio. In summers, he completed a master’s degree in English literature at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

In 1981, Brother George completed a doctorate in English at the University of Chicago. He taught at Holy Cross Junior College until taking a position at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where he chaired the English department for eight years. His final full-time teaching position was at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas for 18 years.

A past president of both the South-Central Renaissance Conference and the Marvell Society, Brother George has published a wide variety in 17-century studies. He now enjoys retirement at Columba Hall, Notre Dame.

Brother Donald Kuchenmeister, CSC

Donald Kuchenmeister grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. After graduating from high school, he worked in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for four years before entering Holy Cross.

After graduation, he learned about the vocation of a religious brother when a person from his hometown entered Holy Cross. Kuchenmeister had only heard of religious sisters and priests. He decided to give religious life a try to see what it was all about. From his first day, he felt at home in the congregation.

After profession of vows, Brother Donald first worked as secretary for the vocations director. Then he went to Boysville of Michigan, a boarding school for youth who were victims of family disorders. He later taught at Holy Trinity High School in Chicago. 

Brother Donald has earned a Bachelor of Arts in English and a master’s degree in Social Work. In 1983, he asked to go to Chile to work with the congregation in a home for abandoned children. He studied cooking and prepared meals that were delivered to the elderly poor in one of the parishes.

Brother Donald is currently director of Casa San Juan XXIII in Santiago, Chile, where he is responsible for the welfare of retired religious. He also organizes workshops for adults in the local parish.

Brother Thomas Moser, CSC

Tom Moser was raised in Keokuk, Iowa, with one sister. He came from a family of religious: five, to be exact. One uncle became a priest, one a brother, and three aunts became sisters.

“In elementary school I had the Sisters of Charity and the School Sisters of Notre Dame, so when God came calling, I knew how to answer!”

“There were over 70 brothers’ vocations ads in Our Sunday Visitor,” Brother Tom recalled, “offering everything from missionary work to cloistered stability. I finally settled on the Brothers of Holy Cross because, among the many choice offerings, they included two weeks’ paid vacation. I have been on vacation ever since!”

Four years in prenovitiate and postnovitiate work, two terms as a provincial, 22 years on the novitiate staff and most recently his years at Columba Hall have allowed Brother Tom to continue his journey and appreciate more fully how it all fits together. He said he now has an increasing sense of how his call has worked itself out.

“I will soon set upon a new road on the journey of my call,” Brother Tom said. “Where that road leads, I leave for others to decide. Wherever I end up, I hope that I might continue the story of the monk within and develop the monk without. Thanks be to God for those 60 wonderful years.”

Brother James Newberry, CSC

For James Newberry, choosing the Brothers of Holy Cross was easy, once he allowed the Lord’s call to register.

“Brothers were teachers,” he remembered, “and I already held a bachelor’s degree and was teaching in a junior high school in my hometown of Downers Grove, Illinois.”

Brother James’s vocation in Holy Cross has placed him in a wide variety of ministries: teaching grades 5 through 12, in classrooms of Native Americans and Liberians, in a junior military academy and in a high school.

“I have mentored at-risk youngsters and recovering alcoholics,” he said. “I have interviewed senior adults interested in Holy Cross Village and served the community as a local superior. All this in the name and company of my Brothers in Holy Cross, without whose support I could have not persevered. I have never regretted my answer to his call and daily thank God and Our Lady.”

Being a consecrated religious with a daily prayer regime also provides Brother James many opportunities to prayerfully remember his family and friends. He thinks a brother’s vocation is special “for the relationships we form with others as ‘brothers.’ Pray with us.”

Brother Charles Smith, CSC

Charles Smith grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and took the path to Holy Cross that many graduates of St. Edward High School in Lakewood did: He joined in 1959 shortly after graduation. After taking first vows at St. Joseph Novitiate in August 1960, he earned a degree in English from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. 

In his first 10 years, Brother Charles taught at four high schools in the Midwest Province: Holy Trinity in Chicago, his alma mater St. Edward in Lakewood and Holy Cross in River Grove, Illinois. He then taught for five years at the Prologue Alternative High School in Chicago and for the City Colleges of Chicago.

After a one-year renewal program at Sangre de Christo Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1985, Brother Charles became director of the province office of life development at Notre Dame. For the next nine years, he would serve the province as personnel director.

Brother Charles was again drawn to Chicago, this time as associate director of the People’s Music School from 1994 to 1995.

For the past 16 years, Brother Charles has ministered at Gilmour Academy, Gates Mills, Ohio. There he served three years as assistant to the head of school, two years as director of student residences and the past 11 years as coordinator of the physical plant. He is not retired though; he is still active on a few school committees and plants a large garden each summer.

Brother Lawrence Unfried, CSC

By the time Lawrence Unfried was in seventh grade, he had decided that he wanted to be a teacher. He was not yet certain about his areas of interest, but after getting to know the brothers at Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, he concluded that his vocation was to serve God as a teaching brother. Then as a result of his friendship with Brother Charles Beck, he focused on biology as a primary area of academic interest. Brother Lawrence’s first teaching assignment was Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio, where he had the good fortune to work with and learn from Brother Marius Wittner, a master teacher of biology. After two years at Hoban, he went to Bishop David High School in Louisville, Kentucky. His experiences there were rewarding in that he developed friendships that have lasted over the years.

After having worked in high schools for 11 years, Brother Lawrence came to Holy Cross College, where he has been teaching for the last 45 years. As a result of living in the South Bend area for so long, he has had the privilege of getting to know not only many students, but eventually some of their spouses and children.

Brother Lawrence said his experiences in Holy Cross have been positive and spiritually fulfilling. 

“I have good friends within and outside the Holy Cross community,” he said, “and I consider myself exceptionally blessed. I look to the future with hope.”

2021 70-year Jubilarians

Brother Thomas J. Dillman, CSC

In January 1950, at the age of 22, Thomas Dillman entered the postulate at Watertown, Wisconsin. In August 1950, he advanced to the novitiate at Rolling Prairie. 

Brother Tom studied general engineering at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and was assigned to teach at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis in January 1952.

Following final vows in August 1954, he moved to Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio. For 13 years he taught industrial science classes and was also director of maintenance and bus driver for athletic events. 

From June to August 1968, Brother Tom was director of novices in a new program at the Holy Cross Brothers Center at Notre Dame. From September to December 1968, he was assistant director of aspirants.

After enrichment studies in theology at Notre Dame, he went to Monrovia, Liberia, to teach math and science. In April 1989, an open conflict erupted in Liberia: This resulted in an inter-city civil war in Monrovia and the closing down of all schools. The archbishop decided not to reopen St. Patrick’s, so Brother Thomas was assigned to live with the Holy Cross community in Ghana. There, he wrote math textbooks for the senior high school program in Catholic schools. The continued conflict caused him to leave for good in 1996.

He taught math at St. Augustine’s College in Cape Coast, Ghana, before assuming the role of editor of the District of West Africa’s quarterly newsletter. Brother Tom became house director of the Holy Cross community at St. Augustine’s College, Cape Coast, and moved to the center in 2018.

Brother Donald J. Allen, CSC

Donald Allen attended Catholic elementary schools in Chicago and Winnetka, Illinois, graduating from St. Joseph Grammar School in Wilmette, Illinois. He joined the Navy after high school graduation.

Following his service, he attended Loyola University in Chicago. He graduated from Michigan State University in East Lansing, with a B.S. and M.S. in zoology with a minor in statistics. 

Brother Donald joined the congregation in 1950. After taking vows in 1951 he began a career covering more than 25 assignments, including some in East Pakistan, Ghana, Liberia and Israel. 

After taking final vows in 1954, he taught at St. Gregory High School in Dhaka, East Pakistan, (Bangladesh). After three years in Dhaka, he was transferred to St. John’s School in Sekondi, Ghana, for four years with a group of brothers who were starting a mission in West Africa. 

In 1961, he studied biology at the University of Notre Dame. In 1962, he was assigned to St. Patrick School in Monrovia, Liberia, where he was principal and religious superior for two years. In 1964, he returned to St. John’s in Ghana.

In 1968, Brother Donald studied at Notre Dame, then taught on two occasions at Holy Trinity High School, Chicago, St. Edward High School, Lakewood, Ohio, and St. Patrick’s High School Liberia. In 1976, he earned an M.A. in religion from Boston College. His teaching career continued at Holy Cross High School, River Grove, Illinois. He then lived at Columba Hall on two occasions, Holy Family High School, Ashland, Kentucky, and Mater Ecclesiae Center, Tiberius, Israel.

Brother Donald retired at Columba Hall in 2007 and recently moved to Dujarié House. 

2021 60-year jubilarians

Brother James E. Kozak, CSC

James E. Kozak was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He grew up on a farm and attended St. Thomas the Apostle School and Catholic Central High. 

Brother Jim joined the Brothers of Holy Cross after graduating from high school in 1960. After the novitiate year in Rolling Prairie, he moved to Dujarié Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Eventually he would earn a master’s degree in pastoral studies from Loyola University in Chicago, as well as pursue graduate courses in missiology and guidance and counseling at the University of Dayton and DePaul University in Chicago, respectively.

After one semester at Sacred Heart Military Academy in Watertown, Wisconsin, Brother Jim spent the next 23 years in Liberia and Ghana involved in education, religious formation, youth ministry and health care administration. He served at different times in two parishes on Chicago’s south side as youth minister and pastoral associate. He spent 10 years with Holy Cross Children’s Services, primarily on the Boysville campus, in Clinton, Michigan. Then he taught for seven years at Archbishop Hoban High School, Akron, Ohio. In 2012, he retired to Columba Hall at Notre Dame.

Since 2012, Brother Jim has been in volunteer ministry at Holy Cross College as chaplain of the men’s and women’s soccer teams, tutor in the writing center and a senior capstone evaluator.

He also spent several years as a teacher and member of the board of directors of the Forever Learning Institute in South Bend.

Brother Joseph P. LeBon, CSC

It was while he was attending high school in Indianapolis that Joseph LeBon heard the call to religious life. He admired the selfless dedication and professional competence of the brothers at Cathedral High School and could picture himself in front of the classroom.

After completing his novitiate, Brother Joe studied at the University of Notre Dame, where he earned his degree in classics. Most of his ministry has been teaching at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio, where he was assigned in 1965. Except for one year at Holy Cross High School in River Grove, Illinois, he has worked at Hoban ever since. He has served the province as moderator of several chapters and as chairman of the Social Justice Commission.

Throughout his teaching career, Brother Joe has taught a variety of subjects, from religion to mathematics, from French to Latin. He has advised the student newspaper and yearbook and is a nationally certified journalism educator. Back in the mid-70’s, Brother Joe became interested in computer programming, which he taught for many years. Today he employs those technology skills in maintaining the school website.

“I owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Congregation of Holy Cross,” he said. “The community has provided me with my religious formation and college education, as well as the opportunity to serve the Church in the ministry of Catholic education over many years. Working with youth has helped me stay young.”

Brother Edward W. Libbers, CSC

Edward Libbers of Lafayette attended Catholic elementary schools and graduated from Lafayette Central Catholic in 1958. He attended Purdue University for one year, studying chemical engineering. During that year, he was active in the Newman Center. With advice from the chaplain at the Newman Center, he wrote a letter to Brother Eymard Salzman, the vocations director, expressing an interest in Holy Cross. Within a few days, Brother Eymard invited him to visit the brothers at Dujarié Hall scholasticate. 

He entered the juniorate program at Watertown, Wisconsin, in the fall of 1959, and then the novitiate at Rolling Prairie, professing first vows in 1961. He was assigned to live at Dujarié Hall and study at the University of Notre Dame, majoring in chemistry and math.

In the summer of 1963, Brother Edward graduated and was assigned to live at Columba Hall and work at St. Joseph High School, teaching algebra and chemistry. Upon finishing his first year, he was assigned in September 1964 to Holy Cross High School in River Grove, Illinois. In 1966, he began work at Notre Dame on a master’s degree during the summer months.  

In 1967, Brother Edward was assigned to teach at Archbishop Hoban High School, again in the areas of chemistry and math. He taught there until 1995, when he was accepted to teach at Holy Cross High School in San Antonio, Texas.

He returned to Hoban in 1999 and continued teaching until retiring in 2016 after 53 years in education. For four years he did volunteer work at Regina Health Care nursing home. 

Brother Frederick P. Raehsler, CSC

Frederick Raehsler attended St. John the Evangelist Grammar School in Little Canada, Minnesota, and Cretin High School in St. Paul. After two years in the U.S. Army Medical Corps in Germany, he returned to St. Paul. 

On June 14, 1960, he entered the Congregation of Holy Cross at Watertown, Wisconsin. Then it was on to his novitiate year in Rolling Prairie.

His nursing training began at the Alexian Brothers Hospital in Chicago from 1963 to 1966. Upon graduation, he was appointed director of the Dujarié House infirmary at Notre Dame. After seven years, he moved into an area of health care known as mid-level health practitioners, the physician assistant.

He completed undergraduate work at Indiana University in 1978 and graduate work in guidance and counseling in 1981. His physician assistant work began in South Bend with the Family Care Medical Practice for seven years. Upon earning a master’s degree, he moved on to King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to work in their physician assistant program.

To satisfy a desire to work in rural health, he accepted a physician assistant position in Skagway, Alaska, for seven years. Then, from July 1994 until 2000, he served the community of Blanchard, Michigan.

In 2000, he retired and returned to Notre Dame. In 2001, he was asked to develop a student health program at Holy Cross College, which he did, and he worked in the Student Health Center for eight years.

Brother Frederick volunteered at Sister Maura Brannick, CSC, Health Clinic in South Bend. He lives in Columba Hall at Notre Dame.

Brother Thomas H. Sisung, CSC

Thomas Sisung was born in Monroe, Michigan, on Dec. 6, 1941, to Thomas and Gertrude Sisung. He was the oldest of five children. He attended St. John’s Elementary School, taught by the IHM Sisters, and Monroe Catholic Central High School taught by the Brothers of Holy Cross. While a student at Monroe, he received guidance from Brother Bede Stadler, who was the school’s vocations director.

After high school graduation, Sisung entered the brothers at Watertown, Wisconsin, on June 14, 1960. He received his habit Aug. 15, 1960, at Rolling Prairie, where he later made his first profession Aug. 16, 1961.

Through the years, Brother Thomas has taught religious education, developmental reading and Latin. His assignments included Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio, for one year; Holy Cross High School in River Grove, Illinois, for four years; Le Mans Academy for three years then 13 years at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio.

Brother Thomas moved back to Notre Dame to continue his new interest in the culinary arts and cooked at the Holy Cross Brothers Center from 1985 to 1998. Continuing in culinary arts, Brother Thomas worked at Schubert Villa/Dujarié House and André Place. Brother Thomas has worked a total of 29 years in culinary arts.

“In my life there have been many high mountains and low ravines,” said Brother Thomas. “I now know that God is doing for me what I could not do for myself, and for that I’m eternally grateful.”

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