Brother Joseph Kinsman, CSC
December 4, 1933 – July 16, 2014
The prayers of the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross are requested for the repose of the soul of Brother Joseph Kinsman, CSC, a member of the Moreau Province of Brothers and Priests. Born in Philadelphia, PA, Br. Joseph died in Santarém, PA, Brazil on July 16, 2014. He was in his 62nd year as a professed religious in the Congregation.
Joseph Richard Kinsman was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on December 4, 1933. He was the older of two sons of Joseph C. Kinsman, a shipyard supervisor from Tallahassee, Florida and Harriett Brock from Philadelphia, who spent her life as a homemaker for her family. He was baptized at Most Precious Blood Parish and confirmed at St. Columba’s Parish in Philadelphia.
When he was ten years old, his family moved to Long Beach, California. In 1942, Joseph began school at St. Anthony Elementary School. In 1947, he moved on to St. Anthony Boys’ High School, which was conducted by St. Anthony Parish and the Brothers of Holy Cross. He graduated from high school in June of 1951, and decided he wanted to spend his life as a Brother of Holy Cross. His pastor at St. Lucy Parish in Long Beach called him “a boy of fine character, religious, co-operative and dependable.” He goes on to wish that Joseph might realize his hope of becoming a member of the community.
In September of 1951, Joseph went to Sacred Heart College in Watertown, Wisconsin as a postulant for the Brothers of Holy Cross. He was received into St. Joseph’s Novitiate in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, on February 1, 1952 and made his first profession there on May 3, 1953. He eventually made his perpetual profession of vows on August 16, 1956 at Sacred Heart Church on the campus of the University of Notre Dame.
After completing his novitiate, Brother Joseph was assigned to study at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He earned a BS degree from there in 1956. He took additional summer courses in Mathematics, Chemistry and Education at a variety of schools, including Immaculate Heart College in Los Angeles, Washington State University in Pullman, Florida State University in Tallahassee, and St. Louis University.
His first teaching assignment was at the newly opened St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California, where he taught science and math and served as athletic director from 1956 to 1962. In 1962 Brother Joseph was asked to accept an assignment in Brazil. Not being one to turn down a challenge, he went to Petropolis in Brazil where he took intensive studies in the Portuguese language and Brazilian culture. He then tried his hand at teaching in Portuguese at the Colégio Dom Amando in Santarém. He continued in Santarém for most of the next fifty years as a candidate director, as Principal and Treasurer, and as Director General (what we would call President). Often during this time, he served on the District Council and as local superior as well. From 2003 to 2006, he also served as Director of the Brother Vincent Pieau Residence in Austin, Texas, before returning to Brazil as the Director General again at Colégio Dom Amando in Santarém.
When Brother Joseph first went to Brazil, the collections to support the missions from St. Francis High School in Mountain View were remarkably high. When asked the reason for these outstanding collections, the students said, “Brother Joseph Kinsman.” It seems that the theme of the mission collection for the first year he was gone was: “Give to the missions — Keep Brother Joseph in Brazil.” Though not quite sure that the appeal was complimentary, he was willing to help spend the money.
True to Fr. Moreau’s philosophy of education, Brother Joseph also started the band at Colégio Dom Amando. It didn’t matter that no one in the Amazon region between the mouth of the river at Belém and Manaus several hundred miles west had ever heard of a marching band, but it soon became a featured attraction in Santarém. Over a number of years, Brother Joseph’s friendship with customs and immigration people and his contacts in the civic community allowed him to import in his luggage enough instruments to outfit a complete band, including the tuba section. He was also able to import electric typewriters and computers when he wasn’t bringing in trombones and trumpets.
The District of Brazil had a rather large farm just outside of Santarém. For much of his time in Brazil, Brother Joseph was the farm supervisor and director. The forest on the land had been cleared by Brother Norbert Lengerich for farming before clearing forests became unacceptable. For the past fifteen years, under the direction of Brother Joseph, the District was planting trees to harvest as a renewable resource which could support the District.
I had great personal regard for Brother Joseph. When he was Director at Brother Vincent Pieau, Brother Kevin Barey, (who also spent many years in Brazil) collaborated as his able Assistant. Some referred to them as the Brazilian mafia. In any of his ministries, it was always evident that he cared deeply for the people he served. I was able to live with him for several months when he came to Long Beach on one of his sabbaticals. Brother Joseph loved to watch movies on television. He could be entertained with movies for hours. He was also quite content to sit back and watch the drama of community life proceed, often accompanied by his quite distinctive laugh. One quality of Brother Joseph was that he always knew more than he let on. When he was living in Long Beach, Brother Michael Brickman spent a lot of time during that period trying to make Brother Joseph blush. As I recall it, however, that really wasn’t much of a challenge.
Because Brother Joseph Kinsman died in Santarém on the morning of July 16, 2014, he was buried the same day according to Brazilian custom. He will be laid to rest in the cemetery near Brother Richard Burgie. His life will be celebrated, also in accordance with Brazilian custom, at a time to be determined in the near future.
– Brother Donald Blauvelt, CSC
An Icon Passes Away in Santarém
The greater part of Brother Joseph Richard Kinsman’s life was given in service to the Holy Cross mission of education in Santarém, a major town on the banks of the Amazon River. Brother José Ricardo, as he was known in Brazil, eventually became identifiable with Colégio Dom Amando, the school he served for nearly 50 years, first as a teacher, then principal, and finally as General Director. His sudden death on July 16, 2014 was deeply felt and received wide media coverage in the city and throughout the western region of the state of Pará.
The following paragraphs, unless otherwise noted, are adapted from translations of local coverage by Globo 1, the largest mass media group of Latin America:
In the early hours of Wednesday, July 16, the former Director of Colégio Dom Amando (CDA), Brother José Ricardo Kinsman, passed away in Santarém, in west Pará. The North American, a religious Brother of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was not feeling well and was admitted to a private hospital in the city on Tuesday, July 15. His condition worsened, and he died after suffering a heart attack.
Alberto Portela, Pastoral Coordinator of CDA, said: “I was with him late in the afternoon. He was not feeling well since Friday because of stomach problems and high fever, but said that he would stay home.”
Brother José Ricardo was Director of Dom Amando for 45 years and contributed significantly to the education of the city. “He will be missed for all that he did,” said Brother Sergio Stolf, Financial Director of CDA, “but now he is at the side of the Father, watching over us. May God welcome him.”
Born in Philadelphia (USA) on December 4, 1933, Brother Joseph arrived in Santarém in 1962, as a volunteer from the Congregation of Holy Cross. His involvement with education began in the classroom, as a teacher. In 1968, he was named Director of Colégio Dom Amando. Through his habitual slow walks through the corridors, he kept track of everything that was going on at CDA.
In October of 2013, he handed over the direction of Dom Amando to Brother Marcelo Praciano de Sousa. Brother José Ricardo assumed an advisory role and guided special projects, among them, the creation of a chapel in the institution.
Highly regarded in Santarém and the surrounding region, Colégio Dom Amando is credited with the formation of many professionals. Brother José Ricardo’s strong and enduring commitment factored significantly in the success of the education offered by the Colégio,
On the morning of Brother José Ricardo’s passing, the city of Santarém issued a message of condolences. It read in part:
The City of Santarém registers, with great sorrow, the death of Brother José Ricardo Kinsman, 80, a member of the Congregation of Holy Cross. For more than 40 years, Brother José Ricardo directed Colégio Dom Amando, leaving a legacy of Christian, intellectual and civil formation of the men and women of the City of Santarém and all of west Para. Peace to his soul.
As is customary, the body of Brother José Ricardo was taken to Our Lady of the Conception Cathedral. A wake service began at 6:30 a.m. and the funeral Mass was celebrated at 4:00 p.m.
Brother Harold Naudet was present for the services. In the United States now for a home visit, he shared the following information:
Brothers Sergio and Harold were the only Holy Cross Brothers in Santarém when Joe passed away shortly after midnight on July 16, 2014. Marcelo was in the southern part of Brazil taking a course, and Ronald Hein was on home visit in the States. Sergio took care of all the arrangements without waking Harold. By the time Harold got to the Cathedral, Joe was already laid out in the casket. The mayor and his wife were praying at the casket and came over to talk to Harold. The mayor had been one of Harold’s students years ago at Colégio Dom Amando. The mayor offered, on behalf of the city, to cover all funeral and burial expenses.
Word of Joe’s passing spread quickly. Given that the services were scheduled for that very afternoon, and many people were away on vacation, it was remarkable that around 3,000 people attended the services. The Cathedral was filled to capacity, people were standing outside. People wept throughout the day. The bishop was the main celebrant; there were five concelebrating priests. During the Mass, about five people offered reflections on Joe’s life and most had to stop to collect themselves. Harold had expected to hear testimony about Joe as an educator and a firm disciplinarian, but he also heard wonderful stories about how Joe had helped many people personally, quietly. A large crowd processed about a kilometer’s distance to the cemetery for the burial at St. John the Baptist Cemetery, in the same grave as Richard Burgie.
The following paragraphs are again adapted from translations of local media coverage of the funeral services:
A city icon in the area of education, Brother José Ricardo was gratefully remembered by current students and by alumni who continue to follow the teachings of the North American.
A public functionary, Herman José Fernandes, brought his 8-year-old son, Herman João, to say good-bye. “We came here because he was a person who the people admired and respected because he always treated everyone well. A truly worthy man.” Little Herman, a student in third year fundamental at CDA, said that he was going to miss Brother José Ricardo a lot, especially at recess. “He hugged me, told me that he liked me and that I was the best student. It was fun. I’m really going to miss him because he was the best director,” said the child.
Ninth grader Mateu Bernardes Pinto said, “He was an icon, a safe harbor for those in need. He helped many by his example, and everyone loved him because his charisma made him approachable. He liked everyone.”
Amiraldo Santos is a graduate who became a businessman and then returned to teach at CDA. He reflected that although Brother José Ricardo has departed, his lessons remain. “While he was a person of great energy, he always maintained a calm and tranquil disposition. Of his various lessons, a main one for me was to always have serenity in your actions. Once, the students in third year were complaining about having religious education when they wanted to have more classes in chemistry, physics and math. Some parents came to the Colégio to push this complaint. After hearing them out, Brother José Ricardo calmly said, ‘The day we stop teaching religion at Dom Amando, I would prefer to close the doors.’ This stuck in my mind. He was always very decisive,” Santos remembered.
Haroldo Laury is in the second generation of his family to graduate from CDA. For him, the religious Brother was more than a director, he was friend. “He was an incredible man, every day when I arrived at school I would talk with him. He was a person who was never sad. He treated everyone very well. He was director for my parents, my director. I miss him very much.”
Globo 1 solicited the following Verbal Portraits of Brother José Ricardo Kinsman:
Dom Flávio Giovanale, Bishop of the Diocese of Santarém
“Brother José Ricardo was an educator who left his mark on the lives of grandparents, parents, and children, practically three generations passed through him. He was known not only for his pedagogic competence, but also for the care, attention, affection, and kindness he displayed. When he left the direction of the school, he did not stop working. Here in the diocese, he began work on a new project, lining up international financial backing to ensure the progress of various educational and pastoral programs. We recognize him as a person who fulfilled his mission in life, never stopping, but helping others through a quality education, a Christian education.”
Alexander Vaughn, Mayor of Santarém, Pará, Brazil
“Education along the River Tapajós is in mourning, but let us unselfishly give our deepest thanks to God for having placed in our midst Brother José Ricardo, a man highly blessed, a missionary of education, a man of quality and great character. I had the privilege to study six years at Colégio Dom Amando when he was principal. Throughout this period, we developed a lasting friendship. He was here in the cathedral on June 22nd, participating as a citizen of Santarém in the 353rd anniversary celebration of our city. In response to a proposal I initiated, he was honored by the State Legislative Assembly, which proclaimed him a Citizen of the State of Pará in recognition of his contributions, not only in Santarém, but in all the cities in western Pará where you find our children, graduates of Dom Amando, who received an intellectual and Christian foundation to last for the rest of their lives.”
José Maria Maia, Assistant Principal of Colégio Dom Amando
“His life was not in vain. Most important of all are the seeds he planted. We are deeply saddened today by our loss, so many people are suffering and crying, but it is because he planted good things in our hearts. So I try to project joy because it was life he planted in us, not death. In 42 years working with him, I learned a lot.”
Sister Gizele Maria Marino, Principal of Colégio Santa Clara
“We remember the great legacy of a citizen, a Christian very committed to his mission, dedicated to the cause of education. But beyond that, transcending those memories is the statement he made with his life. Bother José Ricardo gave his life here in this sacred ground of the Amazon as a missionary, and I think he accomplished his mission.”
Jorge Hamad, engineer
“When a man dies, we are used to saying: ‘He is a great man!’ This really was a great man. He was tireless in his efforts to direct the school well, for the education and cultural formation of the students. The memory I have of him, along with the friendly pinch he always gave us, was his strong desire to provide quality education.”
Haroldo Bentes, teacher
“In addition to his dedication and commitment to education, Brother José Ricardo symbolized for us, above all, such important values as: responsibility, competence, and discipline. All this has great significance, especially in the formation of the young, which makes people understand that the process of development involves a number of things, not study alone.”
Bena Santos, Director of the Union of Businessmen
“Not only I, but my whole family opened our lives to him. He was very important in our lives. We remember him as a man dedicated to education, who committed his life to helping people.”
Adriano Ramalheiro, business man
“I remember that smile, always ready to accommodate. Whenever he was in a hallway, he was watching us. You felt that, at the same time he was correcting you, he was winning you over.”
Reuben Dourado, physician
“He taught me organic chemistry. He encouraged students to study continually because he always had the famous ‘Surprise Quiz’ covering the material he taught the previous day. He was a righteous person who put responsibility on all of us, not only to be good students, but to be good people.”
– Compiled and edited by Br. Richard Critz
with translation assistance from
Br. Tom Chady and Br. Johnny Juno
Br. Joseph R. Kinsman, CSC served the Lord faithfully in the following ministries:
- 1956-1962 Teacher/Athletic Director, St. Francis High School – Mountain View, CA
- 1962-2003 Teacher/Principal, Colégio Dom Amando – Santarém, PA, Brazil
- 1963-1969 Director of Candidates – Santarém, PA, Brazil
- 2003-2006 Director, Br. Vincent Pieau Residence – Austin, TX
- 2006-2014 Director General, Colégio Dom Amando – Santarém, PA, Brazil
DISTRICT OF BRAZIL
1985-1995, 1996-1999, 2011-2014
Assistant District Superior