Brother Edward John Quintal, CSC

May 25, 1939 – November 29, 2017

Brother Edward John QuintalThe prayers of the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross are requested for the repose of the soul of Brother Edward John Quintal, CSC, a member of the Moreau Province of Brothers and Priests. Born in Cohoes, New York, Br. Edward died in Albany, New York, on November 29, 2017. He was in his 59th year of religious life in the Congregation.

In Cohoes, New York, on May 25, 1939, the fourth child of Ernest Quintal, a machinist, and Elizabeth St- Onge Quintal, a factory sewing machine operator, was born.  He was baptized Edward John on June 10, 1939 in St. Joseph Church, Cohoes, New York.

His elementary education at St. Joseph School was taught half the day in French and the other half, English.  He was fluent in French by the time he attended high school at Vincentian Institute in Albany, New York, where he came in contact with the Brothers of Holy Cross.

Upon graduation in June 1958, he applied and was accepted into the candidacy program of the Brothers of Holy Cross Eastern Province in Valatie, New York.  He was received into the new Novitiate building in Valatie on August 22, 1958 and professed first vows on August 23, 1959.  Brother Edward’s first assignment was to undergraduate studies at St. Edward’s University, Austin, Texas.  Living at Vincent Hall on the campus of St. Edward’s was an experience he would never forget.  The hot weather, along with the various insects and animals that would share your living space, was quite unlike upstate New York.  But, he survived and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in June of 1962.
His first ministerial assignment was at Bishop Hendricken High School in Warwick, Rhode Island.  After a year there, he went to teach at St. John the Baptist School in Hillsdale, New Jersey, a parish elementary school which better fit his talents.  This successful experience was the beginning of a teaching career in elementary education that brought him, over the years, to teach at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in the Bronx, New York, and St. Thomas Aquinas School in Brooklyn, New York, before being assigned in 1964 to what would be his favorite school, Saint Edmond’s Academy, Wilmington, Delaware.  He taught there for 15 years, and during the summers of 1967-1971 he completed a Master of Arts degree from Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut.

During the school year of 1979-1980, Brother Edward participated in a renewal program in the pastoral ministry program at Seattle University, Seattle, Washington.  During summers, he participated in the Retreat International Program at the University of Notre Dame, volunteered in an AIDS program of the Delaware Lesbian and Gay Health Advocates and assisted with summer school needs in various Holy Cross secondary schools.

He was known to be a caring and knowledgeable, skilled classroom teacher.  The students in his homeroom learned to be organized, a skill which benefitted them in later years.  His classroom was always colorful, exciting and engaging.  During fourth grade recess, the kickball games were played according to his rules, which changed during the game ensuring that his team could win.  For many, the most vivid memory of him is probably his choice of an interesting and different costume every Halloween which entertained all.

After spending his last 25 years in the classroom at Saint Edmond’s Academy, Brother Edward retired to St. Joseph Center in Valatie, New York.  In the fall of 2009, Brother’s health began to fail and he struggled with the effects of Parkinson’s disease.  In the evening of November 28, 2017, he was admitted to the emergency room at Albany Medical Center where he passed on to eternal life the next morning.

Please join me in prayers of gratitude for Edward responding to the call to religious life in Holy Cross.  He will be greatly missed and remembered.  May he rest in eternal peace.

In Holy Cross,
Br. William Zaydak, CSC

Thanks to Brothers Harold Hathaway, Richard Critz and Thomas Meany for assistance with this memorial.

No Unhappy Endings

It was some years ago that Ed told me he wanted “How Great Thou Art” sung at his funeral.  Knowing Ed and thinking he might be molding the meaning of that title to suit himself, I reminded him that the hymn was about God, not him.  It was also at that time that he asked that I deliver his eulogy and, without taking a breath or waiting for an answer, he continued… insisting that I develop it then, so that he would know ahead of time what I was planning to say about him.

That was Edward Quintal, my Cohoes buddy since 4th grade at St. Joseph’s grammar school.  If your memory of Ed is that of a decrepit old man sinking more and more into the ravages of Parkinson’s disease, you don’t know Ed Quintal.  He was a quintessential comic entertainer who brought laughter with him into a room.

Who can ever forget the cast of characters to which he introduced many of us?  To Alice, his sister, whom he painted as a reincarnation of Rosie the Riveter; to Couronne, the dowager aunt of the St-Onge side of his family and her last-to-be-fed husband, Camille; to Madame, aka Natalie LaFoy, who steered Ed away from becoming an altar boy with her seductive apple pies; to a relative of hers called Babalou, the very name evoking belly laughs; to the neighbor Donelda, with cobwebs in her hair; to Louis, a bed-wetting cousin; to Gilles, another cousin who called numbers at Bingo, Ed’s favorite pastime; and Gilles’ mother, Aunt Denise, driver on a trip to Canada with Ed and his mother and who mistook the customs at the border as a gas station and just sailed right through propelled by Gilles telling his mother, “Donnes-y, Ma,” loosely translated: “Give it the gas, Ma!”

And who of us in the same novitiate group and together again with Ed in this place, can forget his arguments with the novice master over the proper pronunciation of French words in the readings he delivered at meals?  There was no way a Quintal was going to give in to an O’Malley on matters of proper French pronunciation.

Considered classic Quintal-isms were his contributions to seminar discussions at St. Edward’s University where he once proudly responded to a request for examples of cultural customs with “the French Kiss,” mistakenly thinking it was simply the French cheek-to-cheek accolade.  And what about his take on the biblical story that tells us it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God?  Ed’s paraphrase in that theology class cannot be repeated within this hallowed space.  Ed often enjoyed the repeated retelling, with demonstration, of the futile attempts of Brother Theodosius, his Superior, to modify his bouncing gait which, in those days, was a sure sign of the precipitous religious.  Brother Theodosius, by the way, was not known for a ready smile, but it was known that as soon as he saw Ed approaching, with bouncing gait of course, a broad smile would sweep across his face.

My friendship with Ed started early and lasted, surprisingly, through the years.  I learned at an early stage of that friendship that Ed’s MO was to figure out what another’s sore spots were and then impishly push those buttons at will.

The back-and-forths that followed would usually start in English but quickly move to the French, a better-sounding subterfuge.  Robert Falcone still laughs at the memory of such a display at the provincial house where our mutual French name-calling continued as the distance between us increased by two floors.

Ed always stood safely at the edge of childhood mischief that included a third “mousketaire,” as our trio was labeled, and would unhesitatingly throw us under the bus.  He relished relating a nun’s admonition for him to stay away from me as I was, in her words, “un mauvais exemple,” a bad example.  He readily agreed with every criticism she offered about my behavior.  In eighth grade, he got me kicked out of class when he cunningly evaded Sister’s notice of his smacking me with a blackboard eraser.  I, on the other hand, openly reacted in like manner, mauvais exemple that I was.

Ed could use laughter, a look, a word, a one-liner to reflect that all is – or will be – well.  He lived Bel Kaufman’s belief that “Laughter keeps you healthy. You can survive by seeing the humor in everything. Thumb your nose at sadness; turn the tables on tragedy.” No unhappy endings for Ed. No burdensome stories or depressing black-clad figures struggling through life.  Ed preferred much color, bright lights, and tap dancers tapping their troubles away.  Even in these last years of such frustration and weariness, he could still, impish elf that he was, earn the coveted “Naughtiest” award at the Center Christmas party.  (And here, allow me to begin a drive to enter his name in nomination posthumously this year!)

As an educator, Ed found a comfortable niche at the elementary level.  He was a pied piper to his students, borne out visually in a photograph of Ed in the parking lot of St. Edmond’s Academy dressed in one of his elaborate Halloween costumes, and leading his retinue of fourth graders, each in one of two neat lines of ghosts, goblins, or a current superhero.  He spent hours decorating his classroom for September openings, seasons, and holidays, making sure there were parties to celebrate and gifts for each student.  He was the first to arrive at the school in the morning and would often return to his classroom following the evening meal.  Of course, there was a learning curve to develop.  He often told the story of an early Parents’ Night when his student’s parents were directed to their son’s seat, and then Ed proceeded to inform them that the “smart ones were in the back.”  He fascinated students with his knowledge of French, displayed in a memorized and dramatized epic rendition of Croctou–the Butcher Woman’s cat, or his interpretation of animal sounds in the French version of Old MacDonald’s farm.

Ed’s sabbatical days in Seattle seemed, according to his correspondence at the time, to be a time of struggle with his self-image.  To me, there were indications that he wished he could be taken more seriously but found it difficult for himself to change as well as for others to accept a change in him.  We spoke often about it at the time and for some time afterwards.  I believe he arrived at a point where he acknowledged and valued the truth of himself and celebrated this somewhat coming-of-age.

One thing is for sure.  This man was a man of prayer and faithfulness.  One had only to observe him bent over and sitting cross-legged in a favorite spot right over there to realize that while he may have become unable to focus on or follow the pace of community prayer, there was, in that bent figure, a sincere submission to God’s will for him.

Last week in a 9th grade faith formation class at St. James, one of the girls, out of the blue, blurted out, “I think I’m going to be bored in heaven.”  Everything in me wanted to respond that she should make sure she has her smart phone or whatever gadget is used to text these days.  But I didn’t.  I simply said it was an interesting thought but I was lost for a response since “boredom” is not a word I’ve ever heard with regard to heaven.  I think this week I’ll pass on the name Edward Quintal to her, encouraging her to connect with him upon arrival.  By that time, perhaps God will have issued a 9th Beatitude:

Blessed indeed are they who bring laughter to this house.  They will be the delight of heaven’s saints.

A la prochaine, mon bien cher copain.

Eulogy by Brother Edward Boyer, C.S.C.
St. Joseph Center Chapel, Valatie, NY
December 4, 2017

Brother Edward John Quintal, CSC served the Lord faithfully in the following ministries:

  • 1959-1962 Student. St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX
  • 1962-1963 Teacher, Bishop Hendricken HS, Warwick, RI
  • 1963-1964 Teacher, St. John the Baptist School, Hillsdale, NJ
  • 1964-1979 Teacher, St. Edmond’s Academy, Wilmington, DE
  • 1979-1980 Renewal, Seattle University, Seattle, WA
  • 1980-1981 Teacher, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Bronx, NY
  • 1981-1982 Teacher, St. Thomas Aquinas School, Brooklyn, NY
  • 1982-1983 Faculty, Holy Cross HS, Waterbury, CT
  • 1984-2009 Teacher, St. Edmond’s Academy, Wilmington, DE
  • 2009-2017 Retired, St. Joseph Center, Valatie, NY