Brother Armand Alcazar, FSC
I was in second grade and remember watching Sister Mary Pauline, S.P. and wondering if there was anything like her vocation for men. I was not called to priesthood. There were plenty of priests in our large parish, but that was not my call. I belonged to St. Mel’s Parish in Chicago; I’m told it was one of the largest parishes in the world. Upon graduating from grade school, I went to St. Mel High School, which was taught by over 40 De La Salle Brothers. The Brothers always made me feel like there was more to me than I saw in myself. I didn’t come from what would have been known as a “a good Catholic family,” and yet I never felt put down, distance, or odd by the Brothers. In fact, they were affirming, interested in, and encouraging to me. I began day dreaming about how I might do for others what the Brothers did for me, namely, be grateful for whom I was at the time and then adventure toward how I might develop into a fuller sense of self for the sake of others.
It took me five and a half years to complete my undergraduate degree, and I had to be almost forced to go for my first Master’s degree. But, after that, I really took to studying, especially theology and spirituality. I was in my mid-thirties when I became a real student, and I couldn’t learn enough about spiritualty because that discipline seemed to have so much to do with real life. I began teaching in high schools and loved that. But, after dabbling in counseling and campus ministry, which I also enjoyed, I moved on to teaching on the university level, first at Christian Brothers University in Memphis and now at Lewis University in Romeoville.
I don’t think of being Lasallian and/or prayerful as being part of my life; rather, being Lasallian and prayer are my life. I move in and out of prayer like a river flowing into and from the sea. True, I have a favorite chair for meditation, spiritual reading, and reflection, but my relationship with God and Lasallian perspectives are evidenced throughout my days in many venues. Whether walking, in a car, or the office I now have an inbred concern for any group or individual who is marginalized. Perhaps, because prayer, I’m just genuinely interested by other people’s stories regardless of their net worth. I guess this is just another way of saying that I’m more interested what Jesus seemed to be interested in. I’ve had an amazingly adventurous life, for which I am most grateful. In fact, gratitude would be the most descriptive adjective describing my life right now. Appropriately, I will end with a quote from Dag Hammarskjold: “For all that has been, thanks; for all that will be, yes!”
Brother William Brynda, FSC
I was raised in St. Louis, MO and attended a Catholic grammar school staffed the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood. There were often talks about the priesthood, but I had no interest. In 1946, I followed my brother to Christian Brothers High School. I had all Brothers for my classes except for two lay coaches. I was very impressed with the dedication and commitment of the Brothers in teaching and school activities. I especially noted the close community life and unity among the Brothers. In June of 1950, I went to Glencoe and joined the postulancy. On August 30, 1950, thirty-six of us received the habit and a new name. I received Leonard William. The novitiate was completed on August 31, 1951.
We moved to St. Mary’s for the scholasticate and college studies. My first teaching assignment was St. Mel’s in Chicago. I went on from there to teach in many different schools throughout the Midwest and in New Jersey – military, co-instructional, small and large coeducational schools. I also taught at two schools in Guatemala, served as assistant principal, principal, and dean of discipline in other schools. I retired from classroom teaching in 2003 and returned to St. Louis as a volunteer tutor at DLS Middle School and CBCHS. In 2005, I moved to the Holy Family Community in Glencoe.
The presence of God and prayer have been important in my life, especially community prayer. District retreats and renewal workshops have been opportunities for spiritual growth and development. The Buttimer institute was a chance to share Lasallian spirituality with Brothers form the U.S. and foreign countries. We do have rich history with the charism and traditions from De La Salle and the example of some great Brothers in the various communities in which I have lived.