Brother Patrick William Sopher, CSC

April 20, 1943 – February 3, 2018

Brother Patrick William SopherThe prayers of the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross are requested for the repose of the soul of Brother Patrick William Sopher, CSC, a member of the Moreau Province of Brothers and Priests. Born in Spokane, Washington, Br. Patrick died in Notre Dame, Indiana, on February 3, 2018. He was in his 55th year of religious life in the Congregation.

Patrick William Sopher, born in Spokane, Washington, on April 20, 1943, was the only child of William Sopher and Bonnie (McBride) Sopher. Patrick’s father was raised in Nebraska but took a job with the Union Oil Company in Long Beach, California. It was there that he met his wife Bonnie. The family moved a lot because of William Sopher’s work with the oil company; thus Patrick was born when they were living in Washington State.

Patrick attended elementary school in the public schools where his family lived. When he reached middle school age, he was sent to St. Catherine’s Military Academy in Anaheim, California. It was operated by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose who played a significant role in Patrick’s later life and in the life of Holy Cross in the west. While a student at St. Catherine’s, Patrick was baptized at St. Matthew Parish in Long Beach; his family knew well the pastor there, Monsignor Lynch.

Patrick’s parents separated at the same time he graduated from St. Catherine’s and he eventually moved in with his father who decided he should go to St. Anthony High School in Long Beach. Patrick did not object since his grandmother lived right across the street from St. Anthony Church and next to the Brothers’ residence there. Patrick had a close relationship with her.

It was at St. Anthony High School that Patrick met the Brothers of Holy Cross. He and his best friend at the time, David Landry, volunteered to assist Brother Franklin Cullen in the bookstore. In their senior year, Brother Franklin asked both David and Patrick to consider joining the Brothers of Holy Cross and they both applied. David went to the postulancy in the fall of 1961 and Patrick was asked to attend a year at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, before joining in the summer of 1962. It was then that Patrick Sopher journeyed to Watertown, Wisconsin, as a postulant for the Brothers of Holy Cross.

Patrick then went to St. Joseph Novitiate in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, and was received on August 15, 1962. He made his first profession there on August 16, 1963. Eventually he made his profession of perpetual vows at the Sacred Heart Chapel in the new Hayward, California, residence at Moreau High School on August 16, 1968. After his novitiate year he was assigned to live at Dujarie Hall and complete his undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame, which he did in June of 1965 graduating “cum laude” with a BA in history.

Upon graduation, Brother Patrick was assigned to Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, where he spent one year teaching history, English and speech. He was then assigned to St. Francis High School in Mountain View, California, where he would spend the next ten years as a teacher, dean of men and assistant principal. He also took some courses in summer school at the University of Santa Clara.

In the summer of 1976, Brother Romard Barthel, Provincial of the South-West Province, asked Brother Patrick to serve as Assistant Provincial and to organize a process of strategic planning for the province. This proved to be significant for him and for the province. One of the most important things he did was lay the groundwork for reorganizing the school corporations associated with the South-West Province. Later his time as provincial would be characterized by a planning focus, as would his even later time as a member of the general administration.

In 1979, Brother Patrick was elected Provincial Superior of the South-West Province of the Brothers of Holy Cross. He played key roles in helping develop St. Edward’s University and in supporting Brother Stephen Walsh and Dr. Patricia Hayes during their times as President of the University. He also supported the work of renewing Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, California, as it became coeducational. More than anything, efforts to develop strong boards of directors at the secondary schools associated with the province had lasting impact. He also worked to strengthen the trust developed to support the aging and retired members. He and Brother James Kell worked together tirelessly to promote renewal of religious life among the province members and within the province. He was also chosen to serve on the three-man team who wrote the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross at the General Chapter of 1986.

After serving as Provincial for nine years, Brother Patrick went to Vallejo, California, where he taught at St. Patrick-St. Vincent High School which was under the direction of the Irish Christian Brothers. He wanted to be there since his aged mother lived in the Vallejo area and he wanted to be near her. After several years there, however, the Provincial asked him to consider returning to St. Francis High School as President, which he did. However, this lasted for only one year since at the General Chapter of 1992 in Le Mans, France, Brother Patrick was elected the Vicar General of the Congregation of Holy Cross and moved to Rome to work with Father Claude Grou in his second term as Superior General. Father Grou asked Brother Patrick to begin organizing a system to document better the membership and resources of the various provinces and districts in the Congregation. Brother Patrick also organized the first planning efforts of the world-wide Congregation during this time and began several efforts at organizing an endowment for the Congregation.

In 1999, Brother Patrick moved to Holy Cross School in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he spent three years teaching social studies and serving as Dean of Men. In 2002, he moved to St. Joseph Hall in Austin, Texas, where he began studies for a master’s degree in business administration. Then from 2004 through 2010 he served as a teacher and administrator at San Juan Diego High School in Austin, Texas.

Brother Patrick participated in the South-West Province Chapter of 2009 where he was chosen to be a delegate to the General Chapter of 2010 held in Rome. At this chapter, Father Richard Warner was elected Superior General and asked Brother Patrick to join him in Rome to direct an effort to reorganize ways of doing things in Holy Cross at the international level. He accepted and served in this role for six years with Father Warner. After the chapter of 2016, Brother Patrick moved to Notre Dame where he lived at Columba Hall and worked in guidance and counseling with students at Holy Cross College before retiring in 2017.

Brother Donald Blauvelt, C.S.C.

Solving Problems

It is a real privilege to celebrate this Funeral Mass of Brother Patrick Sopher. You see, a few of us here today were provincials together during the same years as Brother Patrick – way back in the 1980s – Brother Patrick with the South-West Province, Brother Tom Moser of the Midwest Province, Father Richard Warner of the Indiana Province, and myself from the Southern Province.

In the Eulogy after Communion, the Provincial of the Moreau Province, Brother Bill Zaydak, will share with us about the great work that Brother Pat did in the Congregation.

I can only say that if everybody in Holy Cross thought about “Unity in the Congregation” the way Brother Patrick did, all of us here, Brothers and Priests, would already be in one province! I say that because I lived for one year with Brother Patrick and some of his Councilors at the South–West provincial house in Austin, Texas. And during that year, I don’t remember any bad feelings between priests and brothers. In my mind, that was the way Brother Patrick lived his life – – full steam ahead. Got a problem? We can fix it.

I can still see Brother Patrick, sitting in a chair in the recroom at the provincial house in Austin, puffing on a pipe, whether it was lit or not, thinking of ways to solve problems: in the congregation or in the world!

Those of you at Columba Hall saw his illness finally get him. But I think that he has believed for years what the Scriptures proclaim: that when we die we will be in a better place. Because in the next life, there will be no more sadness, no more sorrow, no more suffering.

In the Gospel reading that we just heard, Jesus’ good friend Martha says to Jesus, maybe angrily, “Lord, if you had been here my brother would never have died.” And Jesus answers: “Martha, Martha, listen to me: I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live forever.”

So I am confident that Brother Patrick believed those words – – and so now may he live with God forever!

Homily by Fr. Peter Logsdon, CSC
Mass of Christian Burial
St. Joseph Chapel, Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, IN
February 7, 2018

Strongly Committed, Totally Dedicated

Thank you all for coming together to celebrate the life of our beloved Br. Patrick Sopher. I would like to express appreciation to Fr. Peter Logsdon for your wonderful presence in celebrating Mass and for your thoughtful reflections. I offer appreciation to our concelebrants, and let us not forget the choir.

Thanks to Br. Chet Freel and to all involved in preparing this celebration and the reception afterwards. And finally, thanks to Robyn and all the medical staff at Columba Hall and especially to all the Brothers at Columba Hall – – truly his brothers, who spent time with Patrick during his sickness, especially towards the end.

I received a stack of email from the family of Holy Cross expressing sorrow, grief and gratitude. There were emails from those that knew him from the schools, and from past and present members of Holy Cross. I would like to share with you just two brief excerpts of email from Fr. Claude Grou and Fr. Bob Epping.

Fr. Claude Grou wrote in part: I will always remember Brother Patrick as a man totally dedicated to serve the community. I had the privilege to work with him during his six years as my vicar. He was always ready to help us, particularly in setting up the first planning process for the congregation. Patrick was also a good companion and a man of deep faith and strong commitment to his religious life. I join you in prayer at this moment.

Fr. Bob Epping wrote to me, he also wrote to all the current Superiors in the Congregation and also spoke to me by phone on Saturday. Bob wrote in part: To you, Bill, and all the members of the Moreau Province, I wish to express my profound sadness at the death of Brother Patrick Sopher… Being a man of profound faith and trust in the Savior to whom he gave his life, he can surely depend on a merciful judgment, the gracious forgiveness of a loving God, and the anticipation of hearing those consoling words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Come, share your Master’s joy” … Today we have all experienced the extinguishing of a light among us. My heart is full of gratitude to God … for bringing Patrick to Holy Cross.

Patrick started ministry in 1965, so that is a total of about 52 years of ministry and about half of his ministerial life was in education, almost all in secondary education.

The span of his secondary school ministry was from Holy Cross schools in California where he taught and was a president, to teaching at an Irish Christian Brothers’ school in California to much later in life where he taught and administered at San Juan Diego School in Austin, TX.

In the midst of this ministry in education, he was Assistant Provincial for three years, Provincial for nine, at one point Vicar General for six and at another point on the General Administration for six years. So he was in Provincial and General Administration for the other half of his ministerial life.

As we know, his ministerial life ended here – in education – at Holy Cross College. I think it is most fitting that we celebrate his life here, today, in the chapel of the college.

I found in Patrick’s file a document titled “Biographical Information for Brother Patrick Sopher,” which Patrick actually wrote in the third person. I’m not sure why he wrote it. But it seems reasonable to guess that Patrick wanted to be sure that when the time came, as we are here today, that information about his life before entering Holy Cross is correct. Although he wrote it in the third person, he wrote about significant and very personal events in his life, some of which I’ll share with you as it shows the development of his vocation to Holy Cross.

Patrick wrote about being an only child, but spending weekends in the Long Beach, CA area always with family, especially his uncle and his children who were his playmates. He would also spend some time every month with his grandmother who was a devout Catholic. He wrote that when he was with her, he would attend Mass and, providentially, she lived next door to the Brother’s residence of St. Anthony’s High School. This was while Patrick was in elementary school. And for two years he attended a Catholic elementary boarding school run by the Dominican sisters. He wrote that it provided exposure to Catholic education and services in a consistent way. All of this led to him asking to be baptized. Quite remarkable for someone in grammar school.

He mentioned in his biography that his vocation to Holy Cross was later fostered through attending St. Anthony’s High School which was administered by the Brothers of Holy Cross. When he applied to the Brothers in his senior year in high school, he was asked to wait a year. He agreed with the suggestion that he come to St. Edward’s University, but as a lay student. At the end of the year, he persistently asked to be considered again for admission and entered the postulant program at Watertown in 1962.

I had the opportunity to read through the recommendations and comments about Patrick from when he applied to the community and then during his formation years. I think it will not surprise you all to hear that in various recommendations he was described as:

  • Prompt and exact at all times
  • Perhaps a little overly-serious at times
  • Has a tendency to be loquacious which might make it difficult for him to “keep silence” as a religious
  • The same person also wrote “He is strongly committed to his call as a religious.”

During his first year of teaching, a brother wrote “Patrick teaches a good class and works hard on its preparation, he tends to be a little dictatorial in his approach which is not always well received by the students, but they are getting to understand him.” He further wrote: “and next year he probably will learn to relax somewhat.” I think that the prediction of Patrick “relaxing” never came to fruition.

As I mentioned before, Patrick’s 50+ years of ministry were almost half in education and half in Provincial and General Administration. As an educator, besides having an impact by being in the classroom, counseling and administration, he moderated yearbooks, organized speech and debate teams and sponsored chess clubs. He had an impact in establishing governing boards, seeing to their development and serving on them. We know well of the accomplishments during his term as provincial, vicar general and more recently in overseeing congregational planning.

Throughout it all, a smoking pipe was ever present. When I was with him just last week, on top of the dresser in his room at Columba Hall were about 20 pipes, all lined up. For me, one of the clearest memories I have of Patrick was talking with him at various times outside of St. Joseph Hall in Austin, Texas, talking about all sorts of topics; mostly about education and congregational issues, but the fascinating and engaging conversations always involved me trying to stay upwind from the pipe smoke.

Patrick had abilities to organize, synthesize and analyze, to optimize and create structures. He could develop ideas and set goals. Like all of us, his strengths were his weaknesses and in reading through some of his correspondence, several times Patrick wrote of doubts and discouragement, of the challenges that came from his desire for structure, and like all of us, to understand and be in control. We all need to surrender our desires to the will of God, and Patrick was no exception.

The passing of Patrick into new life was a mixture of the expected and yet too soon. I consider myself blessed that a previously scheduled visit here last week enabled me to have quite a conversation with Patrick. It was truly a blessing that local community members and others were able to be with him up to the final moment. As I have stated before at times like this, the passing of one our dear brothers makes us pause and reflect. And in doing so, we recognize that we believe in a loving God in the midst of grief.

We believe that Patrick is with all the saints, along with all the deceased members of the family of Holy Cross; that “great band of men,” along with his parents and other family members that have passed on. We recognize how much he is in our thoughts, in our hearts – and in our prayers. And we are grateful for that. And so let us close with a simple prayer: Patrick, our brother in Holy Cross, our friend and colleague, may you rest in eternal peace, watch over us and protect us! Amen!

Eulogy by Br. William Zaydak, CSC
Mass of Christian Burial
St. Joseph Chapel, Notre Dame, IN
February 7, 2018

Faith and Service

My name is Father Jim Lackenmier. I’m a Holy Cross religious and I live in a community of ten CSC’s in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Six years ago I was asked to leave New England to go to the Space Coast in Florida.

I have known Brother Patrick Sopher for a long time, mainly through being with him at several General Chapters and serving together on Holy Cross committees. I admired him greatly and I wanted to be here for this celebration of his life among us, and as we commend him to the mercy and love of the God he served so well.

I was honored when I was invited to preach today. Father [Harold] Essling reminded me that Brother Pat was a man of few words. He said what he meant and he meant what he said. And he didn’t feel the need to go on and on. Point taken, Harold.

All of us here — his Brothers in Holy Cross and his friends — those who have known him for decades, those who knew him only later, those who taught with him in his early years, those who were with him at San Juan Diego, those who worked with him when he was provincial or as Vicar General, those of us who tried to sit upwind of him as he puffed on his pipe. He would say, “It’s time to offer incense.” We all share the same emotions of grief for his loss and gratitude for having had him in our lives.

Brother Pat’s good friend and lifelong collaborator, Brother Donald Blauvelt, will speak about Pat’s life and work in a few minutes. My role is to comment on this Gospel passage. It’s not one usually read at funerals. But it couldn’t be a better one for Brother Pat’s funeral. It suits him to a “T.”

St. Luke tells us that the apostles asked Jesus, “Increase our faith.” What a remarkable request. Those closest to Jesus wanted to be closer still. “Increase our faith,” they said. Jesus’ answer is a variation of the old saw, “Quality is what matters, not quantity.” “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,” – the tiniest seed of all – “you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.”

And then Jesus talks about service. He links faith and service. He links service to faith. In this discourse about service he says that a servant should know that he is a servant. Jesus says different things in other places, but here he says, don’t anticipate a reward. Don’t expect an invitation to the table. Do what you are supposed to do. And when you have done all you have been commanded, say, “We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.” Note that Jesus has switched to the plural here. He is speaking to the several apostles who asked him to increase their faith. And he is speaking to all who read this text. He spoke to Patrick. And he speaks to us.

I don’t know how often Pat Sopher prayed, “Lord, increase my faith.” But I do know that his faith manifested itself in a life of duty. He held high office from time to time. And then he returned to his place in a local community, to a classroom, to a counselor’s office. There was nothing inflated about Pat Sopher. He was a humble person, in the true sense of that word. He knew who he was. He knew what his talents were. And he offered those talents. He did whatever was asked of him. I know in my bones that after all of it, he would say what Jesus would have him say, “I have done what I was supposed to do.”

There is another place in the Gospel — a more comforting text, in St. Matthew’s Gospel — where the Son of Man, and all the angels with him, sits on the throne of glory and separates the sheep from the goats. And he says to those on his right — the sheep: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you . . . For what you did to the least of my brothers you did to me.”

Our brother, our friend, Patrick Sopher, had faith at least the size of a mustard seed; he was a dutiful servant as a lifelong Brother of Holy Cross; and nobody doubts that he has heard Jesus’ invitation to inherit the kingdom.

My Brothers, my friends, we have lost one of the giants of our Holy Cross community. But we still have with us the memory of his remarkable life and service.

God bless you, Patrick. We loved you in life. We will not forget you.

Homily by Fr. Jim Lackenmier, CSC
Mass of Christian Burial
Chapel at Brother Vincent Pieau Residence, Austin, TX
February 10, 2018

Moving Forward

Since Brother Patrick Sopher considered himself an historian, I will make use of his history to leap off into some reflections about him and his life and its meaning for those whom he influenced.

Patrick was born in Spokane, Washington, although we don’t connect him with the Pacific Northwest. His father worked for Union Oil which brought regular changes of location for the young family and great instability for Patrick. He was an only child to begin with, and it was probably very difficult for him to build connections with anyone since he would simply come and go from the lives of others. He wasn’t even baptized until he was in middle school since his father thought he could decide what his religion was at some point.

He was sent for several years to St. Catherine’s Military Academy in Anaheim, California, operated by the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. Sister Christopher Miller and others from these Dominicans were very proud of the fact that they helped educate Patrick Sopher in his youth. Sister Christopher helped me when I was principal at St. Anthony, was vice principal for Brother Stephen Walsh at Notre Dame High School and still serves on the board at Moreau Catholic where numerous nieces and nephews of hers have attended school.

Patrick finally ended up from his sophomore through senior years at St. Anthony High School in Long Beach. Toward the end of that time, he applied to join the Brothers of Holy Cross. Despite fairly positive recommendations from his principal, Brother John McLaughlin, and one of his teachers whom we know, Brother Thomas Frey, there was a bit of concern regarding his readiness for this move; he seemed a bit shy and uninvolved with others. It was suggested that he study at St. Edward’s University for a year and apply again. This he did. His professors at St. Edward’s had an opposite reaction saying he was too willing to talk about most anything. Brother Charles Andersen thought he was worth the risk and saw that he was accepted. Everyone said he wouldn’t work well in high school but would be a good college professor.

In June of 1962 he arrived as a postulant at Sacred Heart College. This is where I first met him along with about fifty other men. Our group doesn’t have a good record since there are only two of us remaining. Watertown for us was a low-key transition to the common life; many thought it was summer camp with some prayer and classes attached. It became clear to me early on that although Patrick was an introvert, he did have a sense of humor especially in “word play” and he was a voracious reader. He read history, especially 20th century history, whenever he could.

We began our novitiate at Rolling Prairie in August of 1962. It seemed early on that Patrick was determined to be a “model novice” as Brother Gerontius McCarthy described him. Some of us always thought he might be reliving the stability of his military academy years while now at Rolling Prairie. I should mention that the “model novice persona” became a challenge for some in our group who were determined to corrupt this man in at least some way. I won’t mention any names since one or two of those who accepted the challenge may still be around; I suppose it may be a problem that I noted only two of us remain, Bernard.

From the novitiate he went off to the Golden Dome for his undergraduate studies. After graduating he started teaching at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks and then moved to St. Francis in Mountain View where he spent ten years as a teacher and Dean of Men. St. Francis was one bookend of his ministerial career. So much for the Sopher history, part I. However, the personal and professional and religious growth he experienced through 1978 would influence the rest of his life.

For those of us who knew him, there were several things which characterized Patrick. He began everything on an intellectual level but it never remained there for long. He had strong feelings for people but I think he sometimes didn’t know what to do about them. James Kell served an important role in Patrick’s life for helping him sort these feelings out; the two of them were a remarkable team in provincial administration.

Patrick was asked to be assistant provincial and to develop a process of planning for the province by Brother Romard. Patrick knew nothing about planning and little practically outside the school house. So he began to read about planning and talk to those who knew something about it. He developed a process to involve all the people who would be able to help, and especially those who would be negative about the results if they were not involved and would hinder any progress forward. His nine years as provincial were really a time when the province moved forward in a planning mode and chapters were simply places to set new planning goals. In this time he oversaw the reorganization of any corporations the province was associated with, the development of the boards of directors in schools, the development of the charitable trust to support the elderly and infirmed, the development and encouragement of renewal in the lives of the members, the development of life planning workshops with Brother James Kell, the development of living programs for the elderly members of the province.

At the same time he oversaw the development of the first statements on ethical standards of conduct. In 1986 he was asked to be one of the three writers of the new Constitutions, along with Father Burtchaell and Father Claude Grou. In his time as provincial he made sure that Brothers were accompanied in their passing on in death, even spending long periods of time with men who were not near a community house. He was much more of a pastor than he probably would have admitted and he didn’t want anyone to be alone; he said that wasn’t our life as religious.

Both as a provincial and in general administration, he left a trail of burn holes in carpets and upholstery across the world. It was that pipe of his which at least warned you when he had arrived in town. It matched well his persona as investigator. He always wanted to fall back into the role of a dean of men. I guess his style of intimidation worked well in the early 70’s. It is hard to separate the myth from the reality since many believed he developed an informer culture which would rival J. Edgar Hoover’s or the Russian secret police. He moved over time to a much more pastoral and counseling approach to discipline, especially at San Juan Diego. Brother Patrick’s gifts as a planner and organizer served his province and the congregation well. He left a path of organization across the world as he assisted various institutions and sectors in their efforts to build a strong future for themselves. He was one of the first people to promote the idea that Holy Cross schools could continue to exist even if the religious could no longer be physically present there. We would need to prepare them for this eventuality with good administration, good boards and good resources on our charism and education.

I am fortunate to have been able to consider Patrick both a friend and a mentor. He was sometimes confusing, however. I never always knew when one of his “temper tantrums,” which fortunately few saw, was real or for dramatic effect to get his way. Fortunately they never lasted for long. Claude Grou chided me once for not warning him about these.

Brother Stephen Walsh once complained about how expensive it was to take Patrick to dinner. After thinking that he had nerve talking about the expense of someone else being taken to dinner, I reminded him that he was the one who introduced Patrick to Ruth Fertel at Ruth’s Chris Steak House in New Orleans on Broad. Patrick once told me as we sat looking at a steak that our life style choices would eventually kill us. That is probably true for him and still true for me.

I was fascinated by Brother Mark Knightly’s last communique regarding Patrick in saying that he was reading up on how to die. How typically Patrick—even death was to be an intellectual activity. But my assumption is that it didn’t last as that and that he finally gave himself to it. We thank all of those who journeyed with him on this road.

I found the following in a paper done for an education class at St. Edward’s in which students were asked to describe a teacher. After discussing how Brother Patrick challenged him to do his best, a student says: “The thing I really liked about him is he went beyond the scope of the classroom with regards to teaching me. He taught me a few important lessons about life as well. I remember him sitting with me and talking to me about the value and importance of patience. He said that I need to think a little more, and not be so quick to make snap decisions or fly off the handle. I will never forget him saying ‘If you ever learn patience, there is nothing in this world you won’t be able to accomplish.’ This meant so much to me coming from someone that I held in such high regard and whose opinion I valued so much.” Brother Patrick was one who believed in the possibilities of those students with whom he worked. He was especially fond of the students at San Juan Diego High School in Austin, the second bookend of his ministerial career.

You got a lot of honors in your life, Patrick, even an honorary degree from St. Edward’s University. You accomplished many things. You involved many people in our mission as Holy Cross religious. But most importantly you touched our lives and the lives of your students. You believed in us and in them. You are one of those, as Blessed Basil Moreau says, “who will shine like the stars for eternity” in the lives of others.

Eulogy by Br. Donald Blauvelt, CSC
Mass of Christian Burial
Chapel at Br. Vincent Pieau Residence, Austin, TX
February 10, 2018

Bringing Out Our Best

Brother Patrick was instrumental in establishing the foundation of San Juan Diego. He joined the school in 2003, the same year I started working here. At that time the school was only 9 months old and was figuring itself out. We had a new President/Principal, Ed Dougherty, and a small staff of 10 dedicated individuals; 5 were religious including Br. Patrick. The school was fortunate to have a man of his caliber in those early years as he gave us guidance, courage and hope to become an outstanding school!

With his years of experience in teaching and administration, Br. Patrick gave this baby school his wisdom & talent to weather these early challenging years. While Br. Patrick was a demanding individual who held high standards and rigid expectations of the students, teachers and staff, he understood and respected all in this community and brought the best out of all of us!

I spoke with him two weeks ago and he was so excited to hear of the new school building and the wonderful teachers, administration and staff we have here. While at peace with his medical condition, he was still hoping to come to walk the halls of the new building. While he couldn’t make it before joining our Lord, I still see him marching down the hall to ensure I am on time and my students are engaged. I miss him and thank him for everything he has given me and San Juan Diego Catholic High School. Rest in peace Br. Patrick.

Reflections by David Applewhite
Memorial Service
Chapel at Br. Vincent Pieau Residence, Austin, TX
February 9, 2018

Brother Patrick William Sopher, CSC served the Lord faithfully in the following ministries:

  • 1965-1966 Teacher ,Notre Dame HS, Sherman Oaks, CA
  • 1966-1976 Teacher/Administrator, St. Francis HS, Mountain View, CA
  • 1976-1979 Asst. Provincial, South-West Province
  • 1979-1988 Provincial, South-West Province
  • 1988-1991 Teacher/Administrator, St. Patrick-St. Vincent HS, Vallejo, CA
  • 1991-1992 President, St. Francis HS, Mountain View, CA
  • 1992-1998 Vicar General Congregation of Holy Cross
  • 1998-2002 Teacher/Administrator, Holy Cross School, New Orleans, LA
  • 2002-2003 Graduate Studies St. Edward’s University, Austin, TX
  • 2003-2010 Teacher/Administrator, San Juan Diego HS, Austin, TX
  • 2010-2016 Executive Director of Planning Congregation of Holy Cross
  • 2016-2018 Academic Advisor Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, IN