Brother Thomas Jerome Cousino, CSC

October 9, 1928 – July 6, 2017

Brother Thomas Jerome CousinoThe prayers of the members of the Congregation of Holy Cross are requested for the repose of the soul of Brother Thomas Jerome Cousino, CSC, a member of the Moreau Province of Brothers and Priests. Born in River Rouge, Michigan, Br. Thomas died in Austin, Texas, on July 6, 2017. He was in his 69th year of religious life in the Congregation.

Brother Thomas was born in River Rouge, Michigan on October 9, 1928 to Valery Victor Cousino, a plumber, and Ida J. Pelkey, a homemaker. Tom was baptized on October 14, 1928 and received the sacrament of Confirmation on May 23, 1940, both at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in River Rouge, Michigan. He was educated at Our Lady of Lourdes elementary and high school in River Rouge, Michigan.

He entered the Congregation of Holy Cross as a candidate on June 16, 1947 at Sacred Heart Juniorate in Watertown, Wisconsin. Since he came to Watertown with skills as a handyman, learned from his father, he was immediately put to work fixing things at the Juniorate. He was received into the Congregation of Holy Cross at St. Joseph Novitiate, Rolling Prairie, Indiana on August 16, 1948. Brother Thomas professed final vows on August 16, 1951, also taking the mission vow.

Brother Thomas Jerome CousinoFollowing his first profession, Brother Tom began a ministerial career in physical plant maintenance; a well-needed and appreciated ministry in various Holy Cross Brothers’ facilities. He was always very intentional about his work – he did it well to support the mission. He first ministered at Dujarie Hall, Notre Dame, Indiana from 1948-1949. Brother then was assigned to Gilmour Academy, Gates Mills, Ohio from 1949-1953. While living in Gates Mills, he attended night school at East Technology High School in Cleveland, to gain additional maintenance skills. From 1953-1957, Brother Tom served at Sacred Heart College, Watertown, Wisconsin. St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas benefited from his talents from 1957 through 1966. In 1966, he was assigned to Moreau High School, Hayward, California to be in charge of the school’s maintenance until 1977. From 1977-1979, Brother ministered at Notre Dame High School, Sherman Oaks, California. From 1979-1999, he was the head of maintenance at the Holy Cross School, New Orleans, Louisiana. In the summer of 1999, Brother moved to Brother Vincent Pieau Residence in Austin, Texas, where he was in charge of maintenance needs until his retirement in 2013.

But even in retirement, he always liked being on-call for any need because he knew every aspect of maintenance and groundskeeping. He worked daily on his recycling projects, was curious about the various forms of wild life in the area, and loved to monitor the weather. Besides watching sports on TV, especially football, he loved the Hallmark Channel. Brother Tom was an anchor in the prayer life of the community. Daily Eucharist, common prayer and spiritual reading were valued commitments in his life. We will miss his joyful “Alleluia, alleluia”. He was a great community man, good-humored and responsive to various playful house activities.

He passed away into the rest of the Lord on the morning of July 6 at Brother Vincent Pieau Residence. Please join me in giving thanks for the inspiring ministerial life of our beloved confrere, Thomas, who faithfully served the Lord as a dedicated religious of Holy Cross for so many years.

– In Holy Cross, Br. William Zaydak, CSC

Supporting the Mission

Brother Thomas Jerome CousinoI had seen and heard of Brother Thomas Cousino while a student here at St. Edward’s University in my youth. I knew of him as capable and competent in the skills necessary to keep a school’s or university’s plant together and operating. But I first really got to know him when I was assigned to Moreau High School in Hayward, California.

He was from Michigan; he told us he was from River Rouge, Michigan. That certainly sounds quite rural, and after all he was a hunter and fisherman. However, River Rouge is a suburb of Detroit just south of the downtown. He went to Catholic elementary and high school in his parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. His father was a mechanical engineer with the Ford Motor Company and taught his son Tom all kinds of things about maintaining equipment and keeping things operational. Unfortunately, his father died in an industrial accident in Tom’s senior year of high school. A hunting trip had previously been scheduled and his mother insisted he go on this trip. The Sisters at his school were shocked, but shortly after that he told them he was going to join the Brothers of Holy Cross and all was then well. He said one reason he was drawn to the Brothers was from seeing pictures of them engaged in all kinds of sports and activities. Brother Richard Daly claims he joined on a baseball scholarship of some kind and was quite a pitcher.

Brother Thomas said that he joined Holy Cross to support the schools of the Brothers and the Congregation. And he really did that. At Moreau in Hayward, he installed the first football stadium, moving dirt and concrete and installing stands and bleachers. When the school there was built, it was at the bottom of a large hill and sat parallel to it. That meant that water and mud coming down this hill during severe rain storms had no place to go but into the parking lot and building. Brother Tom was out on his tractor daily during rain storms to keep the parking lot clear and the mud out of the building. Eventually he was able to put berms at the base of the hill to deflect the water and mud. He had marvelous engineering skills. Part of his efforts for the school involved planting redwood trees around the campus. We probably best not discuss the means he used to obtain the seeds and young plants.

From Moreau (after 11 years) he moved to Notre Dame Sherman Oaks for two years and then on to New Orleans where he spent 20 years. At the time of his Golden Jubilee celebrated in New Orleans in 1998, Brother Richard Critz who was provincial at the time, prepared a reflection. He said that Brother Thomas told him that he never counted the years, but now that people are congratulating him he realizes the significance of those fifty years of ministry as a Holy Cross brother and he has been excited about it. Brother Richard went on to say that he was a faithful and prayerful man who has accomplished a lot; he has made an impact as a religious brother of Holy Cross. And as Tom likes to say, “I don’t work for people, I work for the intention.” I think Tom was talking of working for the mission.

Tom often had a tendency to “mis-hear” what was being said to him and to mix his words up. Whether it was Brother Stephen wondering why the job on the main hall ceiling in the school in New Orleans was taking so long since it was not the Sistine Chapel (Tom thought he was then working on the Sixteenth Chapel) or telling people he was going out to repair the gazebra (meaning gazebo) or mixing up the name of the provincial to call him Brother Zodiac rather than Zaydak, Tom had a special way with words and phrases.

Brother Richard asked some Holy Cross New Orleans students what he should tell Brother Thomas on the occasion of his jubilee. Several students told him that Brother Thomas always seemed happy and was always working. One student said, “Whenever I feel bad, I go and talk to Brother Thomas and he cheers me up.” I would suggest that is the experience of many of us who are his Brothers in the Congregation.

BTC as he signed things—Big Tom Cat or Brother Tom Cousino…a kind and caring man with an infectious laugh, which could drive those who didn’t quite understand him crazy but which could soothe others of us, is a loss. He was never a president or principal, nor did he have a fancy title, but he had as much to do with the success of the institutions where he devoted his energy and sweat as those with the titles.

Brother Thomas Jerome CousinoWhen Brother Thomas Cousino came to Holy Cross, his intention was to contribute to the teaching mission of the Congregation—and that is exactly what he did in his life. Brother Thomas was a multi-talented person, skilled in nearly every aspect of building maintenance. He has always enjoyed working and being counted on to get the job done. He has left his mark everywhere he has been, and he has built for the ages. The covered walkway he built in New Orleans took more effort to demolish than most of the buildings destroyed by the Katrina floods.

Brother Thomas was very generous in giving of his time throughout his life whether getting up early to make sure that a building was heated or handling alarms coming in the middle of the night, or responding to the needs of people who showed up at the door having locked themselves out of their cars. But he especially enjoyed relating to students, being around them, and watching them grow. He has been for them and us an example of work and faith and good cheer.

Although he never walked into a classroom as an instructor, his life as a Brother of Holy Cross did more than just support the educational mission of the Congregation. His relationships with students and faculty and families made him a Holy Cross educator as much as any classroom teacher, for he affected lives and changed them. He is and will be greatly missed.

Eulogy delivered by Brother Donald Blauvelt, C.S.C.
Chapel at Br. Vincent Pieau Residence
July 12, 2017

Can-do Attitude

Brother Thomas Jerome CousinoOn behalf of the entire Moreau Catholic High School community, I share our deepest condolences to all the Brothers of the Moreau Province on the news of Brother Tom Cousino’s passing. Brother Tom left a rich legacy behind at Moreau, for his planting of dozens of redwood trees on our campus in the mid 1960s have withstood the elements and grown into the majestic beauties that adorn our grounds. I always enjoyed talking to Brother Tom about the trees, and the many other details specific to this campus and our buildings that only a facilities person would appreciate.

Brother Thomas Jerome CousinoI will also carry with me the touching memory of Brother Tom’s generous gift to our Campaign for Champions, which helped fund our new all-weather football field, track, bleachers, and adjacent grounds. Here are Brother Tom’s words from April 9, 2013, at a gathering of Moreau Catholic alumni and Brothers at the Provincial Center in Austin:

I helped out with the first Moreau High School outdoor athletic classroom, in a small way. Getting eight large-size aluminum pipes from Army surplus and having those welded 2 each; making them four story aluminum uprights—two uprights for the scoreboard and two uprights for the outdoor speakers and future lights.

Pouring the retaining wall was lots of fun, but hard work. Everything was approved by the City of Hayward. I still remember the day that the parents, students, and faculty put down the sod from one goal post to the next goal post in one day. Yes indeed, teamwork; but all with that Family Spirit that exists in the present Moreau High School.

As I was a part of the first outdoor/athletic classroom, I also want to contribute in a small way by giving a small donation to Terry Lee for the new outdoor Athletic Complex, from my community fund earned from recycling honest copper wire and aluminum cans. So in closing, “Change is good!”

God bless Brother Tom Cousino, for his years of dedicated service to Holy Cross, for his love and care for the Moreau Catholic High School campus and students, and for his can-do attitude and faith-filled spirit. May he rest in peace.

Mr. Terry Lee, President
Moreau Catholic High School
July 11, 2017

Brother Thomas Jerome Cousino, CSC served the Lord faithfully in the following ministries:

  • 1947-1948 Novice, St. Joseph Novitiate – Rolling Prairie, IN
  • 1948-1949 Maintenance, Dujarie Hall – Notre Dame, IN
  • 1949-1953 Maintenance, Gilmour Academy – Gates Mills, OH
  • 1953-1957 Maintenance, Sacred Heart College – Watertown, WI
  • 1957-1966 Maintenance, St. Edward’s University – Austin, TX
  • 1966-1977 Maintenance, Moreau High School – Hayward, CA
  • 1977-1979 Maintenance, Notre Dame High School – Sherman Oaks, CA
  • 1979-1999 Maintenance, Holy Cross School – New Orleans, LA
  • 1999-2017 Maintenance, Br. Vincent Pieau Residence – Austin, TX

Brother Thomas Jerome Cousino