Brother Alvin (Clement) Ouellette, CSC

October 24, 1925 – November 8, 2016

The prayers of the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross are requested for the repose of the soul of Brother Alvin (Clement) Ouellette, CSC, a member of the Moreau Province of Brothers and Priests. Born in Haverhill, MA, Br. Alvin died in Valatie, NY, on November 8, 2016. He was in his 71st year of religious life in the Congregation.

On October 24, 1925, the future Brother Alvin was born in Haverhill, MA. The following day, he was baptized Clement Louis Roch Ouellette at St. Joseph’s, his parish church, in Haverhill. Clement was the youngest child in the family of Anthime Ouellette, a carpenter, and Laurenzina St. Germain, a housewife, both of Canada.

Clement attended St. Joseph Grammar School where he was taught by the Marist Brothers. He was confirmed in his local parish just before his 7th birthday. By the time Clement was out of grade school, his mother had passed away, and two of his siblings, Florian and Emile, had taken vows as religious brothers in the Congregation of Holy Cross.

For his secondary education, Clement attended Haverhill High School. During his senior year, he worked in the shipping department of a shoe factory.

After graduation, Clement followed in his brothers’ footsteps. He entered St. Joseph Juniorate in Valatie, NY, in June of 1943, and was received into Our Lady of Holy Cross Novitiate in North Dartmouth, MA, in February of the following year. When he made his first vows there, in 1945 on the Feast of the Purification, he became the third member of the Ouellette family to be professed in Holy Cross: Brother Alvin (Clement), Brother Emilius (Florian), and Brother Obert (Emile). For Brother Alvin, religious life was his true calling and he persevered, making his perpetual profession in the chapel of Dujarie Hall, Notre Dame, IN, on August 16, 1948.

After taking first vows, Brother Alvin studied at the University of Notre Dame, graduating in 1948 with a bachelor’s degree in Physical Science.

Brother Alvin devoted 40 years of his life to classroom teaching in Holy Cross schools. Mostly, he taught general math, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, chemistry and physics, but he also taught religion classes. He maintained an interest in learning and continued developing his classroom skills. He attended an in-service program at Yale for secondary school teachers, and earned a master’s degree in Math Education at Fairfield University, CT. He became known for his innovative math teaching.

Brother Alvin’s teaching ministry began in 1948 with two years at Reitz Memorial High School, Evansville, IN, then five years at Msgr. Coyle High School, Taunton, MA. In 1956, he began the first of three assignments to Notre Dame High School, West Haven, CT. Overall, he served a total of 27 years, a third of his teaching career, among the Knights of Notre Dame and was inducted as a “Knight of Honor” in 2013. He also taught briefly at Cardinal Mooney High School, Rochester, NY, and was a prefect for several summers at Gibault School for Boys, Terre Haute, IN.

Responding to the opportunity to serve overseas, Brother Alvin taught in Rome for a year at Notre Dame International, and in Fort Portal, Uganda, for four years at St. Leo’s College. For a short while before serving in Rome, he taught at St. Augustine Teacher’s College in Butiti, Uganda. He appreciated experiencing different cultures and, on the way to East Africa once, a visit to Jerusalem made a deep impression on him.

When the St. Louis Community was established in West Haven in 1987 to accommodate the needs of aging Brothers, Brother Alvin took on a new role as assistant director. In 1996, when the assisted living program was expanded and transferred to St. Joseph Center, Valatie, NY, Brother Alvin moved there and continued to serve the needs of his Brothers as a member of the staff. He was frequently called upon to drive Brothers to medical appointments. He later became a resident and continued pursuing his interest in technology, especially computers.

On November 8, our beloved Brother Alvin passed into the presence of the Lord about 9 a.m., attended by members of the nursing staff of St. Joseph Center who had lovingly cared for Alvin, particularly over the past months while he was on hospice care. He had been anointed the previous week and that morning.

Br. Mark Knightly related that when praying with Br. Alvin the night before, Alvin twice said, very clearly, “Hurry Up!” In recent months, Alvin would frequently say “Hurry Up!” and, also, “Come On!” – almost as if asking to be with the Lord and to stop delaying.

Several of the nursing aides called him “Speedy Gonzales” because he liked to get where he was going as soon as possible. He no longer needs to rush and can now rest in the loving presence of the Lord.

We pray for the repose of Brother Alvin’s soul and give thanks for his willingness to respond to the call of the Lord to commit himself to the Congregation of Holy Cross in community life and ministry.

Br. William Zaydak, C.S.C.
Provincial Superior

“If You Knew Brother Alvin…”

I want to extend my sympathy and the sympathy of our Holy Cross Community and St. Joseph’s Center to Brother Alvin’s relatives: Marie and Paul Lawson, Janice Dubois, Denise Ouellette, Jim and Chris Ouellette, and Elaine Paorro, who is in Florida and couldn’t be here, as well as the other relatives who were unable to attend.

I first met Brother Alvin when I was assigned to Notre Dame High School in West Haven, CT, in 1962 (54 years ago).

My first remembrance of Brother Alvin was in the winter months when he was up at midnight plowing the snow off the roads so we could have school the next day; much to the chagrin of the Notre Dame Students.

If you knew Brother Alvin, he always had a story to tell, and if you know about his stories, then you know he could reiterate every little detail of the story he was telling you.

One day Alvin was waiting at a local garage in town for one of our cars in for repair.  The mother of the man who owned the garage was there, and Alvin talked to her for about an hour in English.  Finally, Lou Esposito, the owner, said, “Oh, Brother Alvin, my mother doesn’t speak English, so she doesn’t know what you are saying.”  And Brother Alvin said, “Oh, that’s okay, I just enjoyed talking to her.”  When he related that story to us, we all thought it was hilarious.

Brother Alvin was my Assistant at the Saint Louis Community in West Haven, so I heard many a story.  I remember him telling me that he was just a little kid, 3 or 4 years old, when he realized how hard his mother worked in their home.  Making pies:  apple, peach, cherry, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb, pecan, pumpkin and mince, and also baking bread and rolls for the family and boarders they had at their home.

He said his mother was cooking, cleaning and shopping all the time.  She had to climb a big hill to lug the groceries home.  Alvin was a lover of corn on the cob, and his mother would buy the corn by the crateful.  Here at the Center, it was well known that both Brother Alvin and recently deceased Brother Tad Las enjoyed their corn on the cob.

My godfather, James Dinnegan, and his wife Angie had a home on Lake Whalley in Brewster, NY.  Every year they would invite us to a family reunion.  Alvin would love to come and meet all my family who were at this reunion.  He was, of course, a great conversationalist, and my family loved him.  He was always the life of the party.  If you ever had guests, he could help you entertain them for hours.

Alvin was a family-orientated person.  He always talked about his Mom and Dad, his brothers and sisters, and his nephews and nieces.  When we were at the Saint Louis Community, Alvin would visit his sister, Alice, quite often.  Many of the Brothers traveled to Haverhill for the wakes and funerals of his siblings.

In earlier days, the Brothers changed their names to a religious name.  There was a sheet of paper with different names you could choose from, and you went in to the superior’s office, according to rank, and you had to choose a name from the list.  Alvin was looking for a short name.  There was Paul the Hermit, so he asked if he could just use Paul and they said, “No.”  If he choose Paul the Hermit, he would have to use the full name.  So Alvin was the name he picked.

Catholics commend our loved ones into the hands of God, and we trust, we hope, and we believe that, having died with Christ, we shall also live with Him.  That’s a big leap of faith for all of us.

It is the faith that grounded our Brother Alvin’s religious life.  It is a faith grounded in God’s unimaginable love, believing as Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another as I have loved you.”  Brother Alvin, thank you for teaching us to be a bit more loving, a bit more Christ-like.  And until we meet again, may God keep you in the palm of His hand.

Here I am, an Irishman, quoting an Irish proverb to a true Frenchman.  But I know Alvin will understand.

God bless you, Alvin, and may you rest in peace.

 – Reflections by Br. Francis Feeley
Chapel of St. Joseph Center, Valatie, NY
November 12, 2016

Number Eleven

My name is Jim Ouellette, and I am one of the nephews of Brother Alvin. I’m going to refer to him as we always did, Uncle Clem. Brother Francis is a tough person to follow speaking. I mean, you knew everything; you were talking about things I wasn’t even aware of, so thank you very much.

As Brother said, Uncle Clem was one of eleven children, and four of the siblings died very young, within months of being born. I think the oldest one that passed was 21 or 22 months old. So Uncle Clem did have very strong bonds with his younger sister, Alice. My grandmother passed away when she was in her fifties, so it was a very difficult time for the family. Also, going through the Depression left scars on many family members, but they remained strong as a family. They met all their challenges and stayed together right to the end.

The dynamics of the Ouellette family. What you said about Brother Alvin being family-oriented, you can multiply that by the surviving siblings, the other six. By my observation, the oldest daughter – she was probably about 22 years older than Uncle Clem – she and Uncle Clem were more on the quiet, reserved side. The others were a different story. Many times in the good old days of the 1950s and 60s, we visited our families. That’s how we got to learn all about our family history. So, sitting around the table, they’d be telling these moving stories and having theological discussions, and they could all be in agreement with one another, but some talked louder than all the others, except for Uncle Clem. He was still a very mild-mannered person. He made his points, but not as loud as his older brothers and sisters.

We have been very honored to have Uncle Clem as a member of the Holy Cross community. Especially today, when there are fewer and fewer vocations, for Uncle to be in the community for approaching 72 years is quite an accomplishment. Brother Francis mentioned that two of Uncle Clem’s brothers went into the Congregation. My father, Florian, was one of them. Uncle Emile was the other one. And, again, Uncle Clem stayed, and for whatever reasons, my father and Uncle Emile chose a different path. But one thing was always true about the Ouellette family:  Faith in the Catholic Church was very important. They built our foundation, Uncle was part of that, all our parents, aunts and uncles really gave us a great foundation, and we are very thankful for that legacy.

One thing that Brother mentioned was that if you’re an Ouellette, you have a love for ice cream. In 2015, when we came for Uncle Clem’s 70th Jubilee, what do you think we were all talking about in the waiting room before Mass began? We were talking about ice cream! The different places we liked to go get ice cream, what our favorite flavors were, and all that kind of stuff. So, you certainly got that right!

In closing, I want to thank all the members of the Holy Cross community for the love that you’ve given our Uncle, the friendship you’ve given our Uncle. This was the best place for Uncle Clem to enjoy his retirement and to actually come to this point of joining his siblings. I’m sure they were all waiting for him. And not only his siblings, but his in-laws, his sister-in-law and his brother-in-law, and now they’re all together. The sadness for us nieces and nephews is that this is the end of that generation. Uncle Clem, once again is number eleven, he was the last one to go. We’re all going to miss Uncle Clem, but we each have our own fond memories of him. Again, thank you very much for all that you have done through the years for Uncle Clement.

– Reflections by Jim Ouellette
Chapel of St. Joseph Center, Valatie, NY
November 12, 2016

Brother Alvin (Clement) Ouellette, CSC served the Lord faithfully in the following ministries:

  • 1948-1951 Teacher, Reitz Memorial HS, Evansville, IN
  • 1951-1956 Teacher, Msgr. Coyle HS, Taunton, MA
  • 1956-1967 Teacher, Notre Dame HS, West Haven, CT
  • 1967-1968 Teacher, Notre Dame International, Rome, Italy
  • 1968-1969 Teacher, Notre Dame HS, West Haven, CT
  • 1969-1973 Teacher, St. Leo’s College, Fort Portal, Uganda
  • 1973-1973 Teacher, Cardinal Mooney HS, Rochester, NY
  • 1973-1988 Teacher, Notre Dame HS, West Haven, CT
  • 1987-1996 Asst. Director, St. Louis Community, West Haven, CT
  • 1996-2006 Staff, St. Joseph Center, Valatie, NY
  • 2006-2016 Retired, St. Joseph Center, Valatie, NY

Summer Ministries:

  • 1949-1951 Teacher/Prefect, Gibault School for Boys, Terre Haute, IN
  • 1967 Teacher, St. Augustine’s College, Butiti, Uganda