Brother Richard A. Angarola (Brother Robert)
Brother Richard Angarola entered eternal life on Friday, July 30th. Brother Kenney Gorman was present when he passed. Nancy Zeman, the Brothers’ nurse and a number of Richard’s closest friends were with him until about an hour before his death.
Richard will be greatly missed by his many friends and acquaintances. And they are numerous. Richard’s impact on the lives of others was life-giving and positive. He not only accepted and helped many people, but he also enjoyed and savored their friendship. Richard exuded la gioia di vivere (the joy of living) reflecting the graciousness of his Italian heritage.
Richard’s warm down-to-dearth manner, his support and help, and his devoted loyalty to his friends created a place that they could call home. He was also gifted with a sharp analytical mind, a sense of humor, wonderful organizational talents and a real desire to make a contribution to others his mission in life.
Richard was born in Brooklyn, New York, on June 10, 1942 to Catherine (nee Bianchino) and Albert Angarola. His older brother Donald pre-deceased him. Richard is survived by his loving niece Donna Angarola Marino, Donna’s husband, Paul Marino, and Mary Angarola, his loving sister-in-law.
Upon graduating from Saint Catherine of Alexandria Elementary School in 1956, Richard attended Saint Michael’s Diocesan High School. He first met the Xaverian Brothers there. After his freshman year he left home and entered Saint Joseph Juniorate in Leonardtown, MD, a program for high schoolers interested in becoming a Brother. In 1960 Richard graduated from Ryken High School. In July, 1960 he entered Sacred Heart Novitiate also in Leonardtown. On September 8, 1960 he received the Xaverian habit and religious name, ‘Brother Robert.’ Upon completing the novitiate, he continued his formation at Xaverian College in Silver Spring, MD earning his BA in French from the Catholic University of America in 1966.
Richard’s first teaching assignment was at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, KY. There he taught Latin, French, religion and history and also moderated the Student Council. He also served as Retreat Director. While at Saint Xavier, he earned his MA in Education at Spalding University.
In a recent interview for a Congregational publication, Richard admits that ‘I really didn’t want to go to Louisville where I first began my ministry.’ The primary reason was the distance from his ‘home’ in Brooklyn. In the same interview, Richard says, however, that in retrospect ‘I always felt comfortable everywhere I was led because I knew I was fulfilling the mission to love and serve my students.’ Richard grew in his understanding of our Xaverian mission. Wherever he went, he kept creating new ‘homes’ that included students, families and colleagues whom he came to know and love.
‘Home’ was an important reality for Richard. As we know, home is a warm place where we know in our heart that we belong. Home is the place where we feel comfortable and safe. Where we grow and thrive.
Richard grew and thrived. In the same Congregational interview, he admitted that ‘There were times when I was frustrated and made mistakes, but I learned to listen. And I began to let students know just how important and valuable they were; cherished by God.’ His involvement in the youth retreats was a turning point for Richard. Like our Founder, Richard looked at his original call to be a Xaverian Brother as a continual conversion to manifest God’s love to those to whom he ministered. Another turning point for Richard that deepened his sense of mission was his sabbatical year in the Institute of Spirituality and Worship held at Berkeley, CA.
At a recent workshop I attended, the speaker talked about our need ‘to live life in a place we call ‘home.’ He went on to say that “‘Home’ is the place where your personal story and personal contribution to life are truly valued by those with whom you share ‘home.’ So ‘home’, then, is a mutual experience. It seems this insight applies very much to Richard. He shared ‘home’ in a mutual way with so many people. My observation is that whenever Richard felt at home with others, his interactions with them were always warm, exuberant and intimate. However he could easily appear aloof and distant if he was not sure of his relationship with the person.
Richard contributed to the mission of Xaverian education as a teacher, and retreat director at Saint Xavier, as an administrator and teacher at Saint Mary’s Ryken, as teacher and counselor at Xaverian and Nazareth. He also ministered at Joliet Catholic, a Carmelite high school in Illinois. He was also principal at Sacred Heart School in Lombard, IL. He shared ‘home’ and remained faithfully in contact with students and teachers in each of those places. If you were his friend, he was your friend for life. Richard also served the former Central Province as Development Director, Director of Ryken House and Director of Volunteer Ministries.
Several months ago Richard found new life and energy when he moved to Treyton Oak, a retirement community in Louisville. He was a relator. He made friends quickly. Treyton Oak Tower was definitely ‘home.’ He loved his apartment. He loved volunteering in the community shop. He maintained his relationships with friends from Saint X. He made new friends. Then there was the devastating ‘life-quake.’ His world was turned upside down with the diagnosis of cancer. Richard was also a highly private person, reluctant to disclose his personal feelings. In talking with him, all he shared was simply, ‘It is what it is.’
Many of the people with whom he shared ‘home’ have expressed their disbelief, their pain and their love for Richard. He leaves us one more life gift. A gift we receive from our Founder. It is a ‘simple prayer.’ “O Lord I cannot understand Your ways, but I must adore them.’ (Fundamental Principles of the Xaverian Brothers).
We give thanks for Richard’s life and contribution to us. They are valued. We pray in hope that he is ‘home’ now in the arms of our God who knows him, understands him and loves him.
May Richard be at peace.
Brother Edward Driscoll, CFX