Brother Ed and Brother Edward.
Brother Ed and Brother Edward.
Former high school classmates routinely express shock that Brother Ed Boyer, CSC, is still in religious life. It's a different story with his best friend from those days, Brother Edward Quintal, CSC.

"I was considered the holy one," Brother Edward explained with a laugh.

The men, both in their early 70s, grew up together in Cohoes, attending St. Joseph's School there and then Vincentian Institute in Albany, both now closed. After they and a third friend "triple-dated" the same group of girls and got in trouble together throughout adolescence, the two Eds entered the Congregation of Holy Cross on the same day after graduation to become religious brothers.

Their paths diverged as they earned teaching degrees and served all over the country separately for decades, meeting up only for vacations and reunions.

Inseparable again
But today, they're back together: living in neighboring suites at St. Joseph's Center in Valatie, a retirement center for brothers and priests of the congregation. Brother Edward is retired, and Brother Ed is the director of the facility. It's the first time they've lived together in community since 1959.

Each seems to serve as the other's link to the past, no matter how much they'd like to forget certain things. For instance, Brother Edward needles his friend about the times Brother Ed and his conspirators got kicked out of a movie theater on Friday nights.

"If the movie was boring, we'd have a race climbing under the seats," explained Brother Ed, who also fashioned long "snakes" of paper from popcorn boxes and passed them around to annoyed patrons. "He'd be on the sidelines of these things."

Still, Brother Ed insists his friend was "devious" and blames him for Ed's suspension in the eighth grade.

"When the sister wasn't looking, he took the blackboard brush and hit me in the back of the head with it," said Brother Ed, who retaliated but got caught. The teacher - and, often, Brother Edward's mother - warned him not to hang out with Brother Ed, calling him a bad influence.

"We visited that nun every summer right up until her death," Brother Ed said. "I hated myself for putting her through that....Well, he's the one who started it."

Brother Edward also managed to get their friend Bob kicked out of church for laughing; Brother Ed was innocently serving on the altar that time.

Religious path
Talk of entering religious life initiated with Brother Ed, who knew he wanted to be a teacher as early as grade school and a brother as early as junior high.

Brother Edward "never heard of brothers until I went to high school," he said; Vincentian Institute (VI), which closed in 1977, was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy and Holy Cross brothers.

The pair graduated from VI on a Monday and entered the community the following Sunday. "He got prepared for religious life," Brother Ed said of his friend. "I partied for six days." Years later, Brother Ed's final vows were postponed because his superior thought he was "too casual" with prayer.

Brother Edward earned his teaching degree at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas, and taught at a Rhode Island high school before realizing elementary schools were a better fit. He served in New Jersey, taught French for 35 years in Delaware, moved around for a few years and ultimately returned to Delaware before retiring a few years ago.

In between, he spent a renewal year serving at a hospital in Seattle and doing some reflection; Brother Ed sent him an encouraging letter during this period.

Brother Ed got his teaching degree at University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., and started his career at a high school in Flushing, N.Y. He earned a master's degree in music education, served on the provincial council in New Rochelle, served at a school in Rochester and returned to the Flushing school to teach French. He later became principal of the Rochester school and faced the difficult task of closing it. Brother Edward was called in to help him through it emotionally.

Brother Ed went back to Flushing one more time and stayed for 16 years. In 2005, he was asked to oversee the healthcare program at St. Joseph's Center and eventually took over as facility director.

But "I haven't given up going back to the classroom," he said. "I love the classroom - the energy, the zest."

Down the road
The two friends cherish their Sunday morning breakfast outings, trips to their parents' graves and getting haircuts together. They converse in both English and French, the language all the nuns spoke in grade school and the one used in Brother Edward's house growing up.

"If we get annoyed with each other, we switch to French," Brother Ed said.

Brother Edward chimed in, "[like] when he says, 'Forget it. It's not important.'"

"Well, he doesn't hear and sometimes he doesn't wear his hearing aids," Brother Ed protested.

By now, the brothers say they feel like blood brothers.

"The days that we have left are shorter, so I think the love that we have for each other intensifies," Brother Ed said.

Brother Edward, who has symptoms of Parkinson's disease and decreased cognitive ability after open heart surgery a decade ago, says, "I can't express myself that well." But Brother Ed appreciates the thoughtful holiday cards his friend chooses for him. v
Brother Edward is glad he's the retired one. He calls his friend's job "depressing. If someone gets sick, I run away from it.

"It's nice to have people you know living together," he continued. "You can be all alone in a big house and not know anyone.