Almost every day in Newfoundland and Labrador, ordinary citizens pass away and leave an extraordinary legacy behind them. One such is Brother Joseph Bertrand Darcy C.F.C. He was born on March 3, 1920, and passed away on Oct. 16, 2018, at the age of 98 years.
He was one of three Christian Brothers who were elected president of the Newfoundland Teachers’ Association (NTA now NLTA). They are Br. M. O. O’Hehir (Br. O’Hehir Arena was so named — now Bussey Arena), Br. J.B. Darcy, and Br. A. F. Brennan, who was also president of CTF. (Br. Brennan was my Grade 11 teacher). I had the opportunity to be taught by all three, for which I am grateful.
In 1926, Br. Darcy began Grade 1 at St. Bonaventure’s under the Irish Christian Brothers. He excelled in academics, in sports (football, basketball, and hockey) and in music (violin, piano and later orchestra director). He was a fierce competitor in sports, including inter-collegiate hockey.
On Oct. 15, 1936, at the age of 16, he entered the Congregation of Christian Brothers at West Park, N.Y., where he continued to excel in academics, sports, and music. His first mission (1940) was at Iona School in New Rochelle, N.Y. Then, St. Bon’s in St. John’s and next Rice High School in New York City.
He was appointed Superior of St. Gabriel’s Scholasticate, West Park, N.Y., for training young brothers. For six years he was president of St. Bon’s where major renovations took place. Then, he became part of the leadership team for all the Brothers’ schools in North America.
Next, in 1966 he became the first provincial leader for the Brothers’ schools in Canada. For the next 12 years, he was Vicar General in Rome, assisting the Superior General, in running the Brothers’ schools world wide. In 1984, at his request, he was stationed at An Dunan, a secondary school in Northern Ireland, where he served 10 years.
In 1994, he returned to St. John’s. Here he composed music for the 150th anniversary of the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Also he composed a lovely “Ave Maria” to honour the Venerable Nano Nagle PBVM, on May 7, 2014. She was the founder of the Presentation Sisters and, in a competition by the Sunday Irish Tribune in 2002, was declared the Greatest Irish Person of all time by a wide margin.
Br. Darcy wrote 5 books: “St. Bonaventure’s School,” “St. Patrick Hall Schools,” “Holy Cross Schools,” “The Life of Bishop Fleming” and “Br. Luke Slattery’s presidency of St. Bonaventure’s College 1889 - 1895.”
He was also skilled in computer graphics, wrote many articles for The Monitor, and gave talks on theology.
His funeral took place on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018 at the Basilica of St. John the Baptist. Br. Rick Fowler C.F.C. delivered the eulogy at the beginning of the Mass. Fr. Wayne Dohey delivered the homily as Archbishop Currie was away. Both spoke with great eloquence and clarity of voice. The Mass was followed by a reception at the Motherhouse of the Presentation Sisters. With condolences to his family and his Congregation, we pray “Eternal Rest grant him, O Lord.”
His considerable achievements are worthy of reflection.
Although I have known Br. Darcy for over 60 years, it was only at the wake and the funeral that the full extent of his considerable talents and accomplishments became evident.
His life was like a gem where we only see one facet. I am reminded of the poem by Longfellow(?): “The lives of great men all remind us, we can make our lives sublime and departing leave behind us footprints on the sands of time.”
The book launch for his last book, “Holy Cross,” was at the Holy Cross dinner on Sept. 14, 2017. I had the chance to purchase three copies and offer congratulations.
He made an enormous contribution to education in Canada, U.S., Italy and Ireland. As we reflect on his life of dedication, perseverance, generosity and 82 years of service, we may be inspired to develop and share our own talents.
“They that instruct many to justice shall shine as stars for all eternity.”
Ex-pupil St. Pat’s