Xaverian Brother Harold “Harry” Eccles
A Christian Burial Service was celebrated for Xaverian Brother Harold “Harry” Eccles, Monday, March 15, in the chapel of St. Xavier High School in Louisville. Brother Harry, 93, passed away Monday, March 8, at Nazareth Nursing Home in Louisville, his hometown. At the time of his death, he was the oldest Xaverian Brother at age 93, with 76 years of service as a Xaverian brother.
After completing his initial formation and education with the Xaverian brothers, he taught religion and English at their high schools in Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and Kentucky.
In 1979, Brother Harry was the founding director of the Volunteer Ministries Community in the Diocese of Richmond. For 10 years, he lived with and mentored groups of recent college graduates who volunteered for a year of ministry service in rural Virginia. The focus of the ministry was presence and service.
In addition to the community he established at Blackstone, Xaverian brothers also established volunteer communities in Staunton and Harrisonburg.
In 1989, with encouragement from Bishop Walter F. Sullivan, Brother Harry began ministerial outreach to Haiti. Under the guidance of the Xaverian Volunteer program, he accepted groups of college graduates who wished to serve in Haiti.
Besides mentoring the volunteers, Brother Harry taught English at the local high school, as well as to older men in the community. He also accompanied the 12 men living at Sant Zaveryn to Port au Prince where they, with the support of the Xaverian community, were completing their university studies.
According to the obituary provided by the Xaverians, “Thanks to (Brother Harry’s) faithful service and the generosity of the congregation, Haiti is now gifted with doctors, teachers, accountants and spiritually and socially sensitive citizens whose task is transforming Haiti to a more just and educate country.”
Benedictine Abbot Benedict McDermott
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Saturday, March 27, at Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey, Richmond, for Benedictine Abbot Benedict McDermott, a monk of Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey. Abbot Benedict, 87, died on Friday, March 19.
The ninth of Alvina and John McDermott’s 13 children, Raymond (Ray) joined the monks of Belmont Abbey where he was given the name Benedict. He made his first profession of vows in 1955 and was ordained in 1961. The following year, he was assigned to St. Benedict’s Priory and to the faculty of Benedictine High School in Richmond. He was pastor of St. Benedict Parish in the early ‘70s while continuing to teach French at the high school.
Abbot Benedict was elected as the first abbot of Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey when it became an independent abbey in 1989. During his administration, he oversaw the purchase of 50 acres in Goochland County and the move of the monastery to that site. He was re-elected abbot by his fellow monks in 1999 but resigned the position three years later due to health issues.
Memorial contributions may be made to the New Monastery Fund for Mary, Mother of the Church Abbey, 12829 River Road, Richmond, 23238.