Br. Donald Stabrowski, C.S.C.
Led by Examples in Holiness and Commitment to Community
My association with Holy Cross is almost life-long having grown up in the greater South Bend area in the middle 1950's. In those days, it was impossible not to come into contact with a Holy Cross priest, brother, or sister. Parishes, grade schools, high schools, a university, a college, and even a farm, which had a brother who sold bushels of apples door-to-door in the neighborhoods, were so much a part of our daily lives.
As a high school freshman in 1955, I came into direct contact with the brothers of Holy Cross at St. Joseph High School. They were excellent teachers and role models. Almost monthly my junior year I was asked to consider becoming a brother. Then, during my senior year, I was invited to spend an afternoon at the Novitiate in Rolling Prairie. Just a few weeks later I found myself filling out an application to the community.
My parents were very supportive of my entering Holy Cross, and to my surprise, our pastor, a formidable diocesan priest, was most supportive as well. I had not suspected this support, and I still remember him asking me if I had considered entering the diocesan seminary. I said that I had but was more attracted to the brother’s vocation. He spoke very impressively of his association with the brothers he met in his early years as an assistant pastor in Fort Wayne.
I entered the community two weeks after high school graduation. First, I spent eight weeks of that summer with 60 other candidates for Holy Cross at our Juniorate in Watertown, Wisconsin. On August 15, I received the habit and began my novitiate year, professing first vows in 1960. Then I was assigned to Vincent Hall at St. Edward’s University to spend three years as a scholastic brother majoring in history and earning certification for secondary school teaching.
These years of formation were special in not only academics, but also in living my initial days with a group of like-minded individuals who were all preparing for their future in Holy Cross. The superiors, novice master, and staff were role models of both professionalism and, more importantly, religious life in Holy Cross. I learned to love Holy Cross – its history and its present-day apostolates. Filled with that same zeal and energetic spirit, I could hardly wait until I, too, would be a teacher in one of our high schools.
After graduation from St. Edwards in May, I professed Final Vows on August 16,1963. My initial assignment was to Cathedral High School in Indianapolis. That first year I taught history and government to students who were three years younger than myself. I was bolstered by the 27 brothers who taught at Cathedral. All were superb teachers, excellent religious, and role models who became true brothers to me.
During the following summers I earned two masters degrees, one in history and one in education administration at Indiana University. In 1969, after six years at Cathedral, I was assigned to be the assistant principal at Hoban High School in Akron, Ohio. Within that year I was asked to be principal at Holy Trinity High School in Chicago where I would spend the next four years working with some of the most impressive priests and brothers I have known. It was at Holy Trinity where I learned first-hand the work of our priests in parishes. There were seven priests there in 1970, and their work was so multi-faceted and time consuming, yet they found time for community life and working with the brothers.
In 1974, I was assigned to teach at Holy Cross Junior College where I would spend the next 14 years, and during that period, I completed another master’s degree and my doctorate in government at Notre Dame.
Then, in 1988, I went to Portland where I would spend the next 24 years in teaching and administration. Again, living primarily with Holy Cross priests, I was impressed with their professionalism, holiness, and commitment to community.
Until recently moving into leadership in our community, I have spent 49 years in Holy Cross educational institutions. In every assignment, it has been the people who have made a difference in my life. All have been role models and have left a lasting impression on me. I have never been assigned to a place that I haven’t liked, and I credit that to the incredible work that Holy Cross does and as well to the example of other Holy Cross religious in my life.