Oh, Brother!

Tonight at a banquet hall near center city Philadelphia, Father Judge High School will induct the newest members into its Hall of Fame. Many schools have such ceremonies to honor famous and successful alumni for their contributions to their profession, the church, society, or the school itself.

When Bro. Jim Williams, OSFS accepts his honors tonight, he will be celebrated for his more than 40 years as a Catholic school educator and coach. Like many Oblates, especially Oblate brothers, he has ministered with high impact and low visibility, not seeking accolades or attention. He has a deep humility, gentle manner, and generous spirit. When Jesus invited us in Matthew’s gospel to learn from him and then pointed to the gentleness and humility of his heart, Bro. Jim took that invitation to his own heart.

Monday of this week was the first ever annual Religious Brothers Day, an effort in the United States to highlight the vocation and ministry of brothers in the church. Coinciding with the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, the day, as Pope Francis wrote, is to advance brothers’ role as “leaven for the renewal of the Church in America and the building up of an ever more just society, respectful of the dignity and aspirations of all God’s children.”

While the leaders of Father Judge may not have been aware how their honoring Bro. Jim would be just days from the first commemoration of Religious Brothers Day, the connection is a delightful and grace-filled coincidence. To honor one brother is to honor all of them, for no one labors alone. Congratulations, Bro. Jim and thank you for your tireless work. St. Joseph is proud, and your brother Oblates may be prouder.