The Oblates of the Virgin Mary arrived in the U.S. and established a community here in the 1970s. Those pioneering brothers are now our cherished elder Oblates with decades worth of wisdom and stories to share.
One such Oblate is Brother Lou, our most senior Oblate who’s lived a dedicated life of service to God and the Oblates of the Virgin Mary, including spending many years as our Provincial Treasurer. He’s now retired, but you’ll still find him sharing his wisdom and love of a good joke with the next generation of Oblates.
On a scapular around his neck, Br. Lou proudly sports the phrase that has guided his life thus far, a sign of his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and his commitment to her son Jesus Christ:
“I give my soul to Jesus Christ.”
When Br. Lou was twelve years old, as he was walking into the parish church on a weekday to pray, a thought came to him suddenly. “Lord, I want to work for you.” He said that he wasn’t thinking about a vocation as a priest or brother. All he knew is that he wanted to work for God. And since that time, Br. Lou has done just that.
Brother Lou’s Story
Our most senior member, Br. Lou, is a man who has given his heart, soul and life in service to God and the Oblates of the Virgin Mary. For over forty-seven years as a religious brother, his witness has been an inspiration to all of the Oblates and the many laymen and women who know him.
The Gift of Faith
Br. Lou grew up in Detroit, Michigan. The fourth child of Italian immigrants from Servale, a small town in southern Italy, he has two brothers and two sisters. He and his younger sister were the only two born in the United States, and he would often joke with his family that, “I am the only one who could be President of the United States.”
Raised in a traditional Italian family, Br. Lou learned the value of faith and family at an early age. His mother and father worked hard, provided for their family, and passed on the gift of faith to their children.
His father was an usher at the local Catholic Church and used to collect “seat” money. Parishioners would pay a dime for their seat at Mass, and those funds were used to pay off the parish debt. Little did Br. Lou know that many years later, he would be the Provincial Treasurer for the Oblates and responsible for paying bills and handling finances.
His mother’s faith was simple and yet strong. When her oldest son fought as a Marine in World War II, she lit a votive candle every day at the statue of St. Anthony. She promised that if her son came home safe, she would travel back to her home village, Sersale, Italy, every year to honor St. Anthony at the parish where the devotion to the saint was strong. When Br. Lou was twenty-three, he lost his mother to cancer. She had a strong devotion to the Rosary, and with her passing, Br. Lou’s own devotion to the Blessed Mother grew.
Finding his vocation
The faith he received through his parents, gave direction to his life after graduating from high school. At eighteen, he went to work for the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit. Five years later, he served in the Army for two years. Following his service, he worked twelve years as a clerk and mail carrier for the US Postal Office. It was then that God delivered a message to Br. Lou that would determine the direction of the rest of his life.
One evening, he was attending a Friday night vigil and praying to defeat an abortion law in Michigan. Growing tired, he left the church, but returned soon after, because he remembered that coffee and donuts were being served. There, he met two Oblate seminarians home from San Vittorino, Italy for summer vacation.
They started talking and met regularly over the next five weeks. The Oblates invited him to come and see what a religious vocation could look like. When he told his father he was going to Italy, his dad said, “You’re crazy. Why don’t you get married and have a kid.” As he said the words, his father took a step back, faced Br. Lou squarely, and said, “If you want, go ahead.” Br. Lou said half jokingly, “Darn it. Now I have to go.” And go, he did. He began a new life with the Oblates of the Virgin Mary.
Becoming an Oblate
He entered the Oblates in 1974 on the eve of the Holy Year proclaimed by St. Pope Paul VI. He knew that he was called to be a brother from the very start. He went to San Vittorino, Italy and learned what this vocation would mean—prayer, community life and manual labor.
In 1977, after three years of formation, he came to St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine in Boston, where the Oblates had begun their first foundation in the US. The seminary for the Oblates would begin in 1978.
Br. Lou said the first year was hard and challenging. The community froze because there was no heat so he and Fr. Dave Beauregard, OMV, had to go to the Boston Public Library to get warm from the cold.
Br. Lou made his final vows on September 11, 1981 at St. Clement. He was the first perpetual brother for the Oblates at the time.
A humble life of service
Since that time, Br. Lou has been a dedicated, prayerful man who has a heart for God, for Our Lady, and for the Oblate community. He is a wise and faithful religious whose humble attitude and service is an inspiration to all he encounters. He is a wonderful part of our community and provides a great witness to the joy of religious life.
Advice for Future Oblates
On June 8, 2022, Br. Lou turned 90 years old. When asked what advice he had for someone considering joining the Oblates, he said, “it is a family and it is a joyful life. It is a great bunch of guys.” He continued, “it is like any family. At times, there can be challenges and people can get on your nerves [but] if I cannot please myself 100% of the time, how can I expect someone else to please me more than myself? It is impossible.”
This wisdom has helped Br. Lou not to dwell on problems, but to focus on what is good and to be grateful.
His closing words were:
“I have no regrets. I would do it all over again. It is a wonderful life.”Brother Lou
Support for the Annual Fund
Our Oblates are the heart and soul of this community, and they need our support, too. Their dedication, commitment, and joy power us through difficult times and celebrate with us in happy times, always keeping us grounded in God’s love and mercy. Because of Oblates like Br. Lou, we’ve been able to grow and serve this community around the world, feeding spiritual hunger and spreading the word of the Lord.
The Annual Fund supports all aspects of the Oblate mission to bring about a rebirth of spirituality in today’s world. That includes our formation ministry at the beginning of an Oblate’s journey and caring for our retired religious as well as they’ve cared for us all of these years.