2/25/2010 Q-&-A WITH BROTHER PETER LaSalle chaplain is in sixth decade of service
PETER FEUERHERD Correspondent
Brother Peter Furlong, 70, campus minister at LaSalle Institute in Troy, has been a Christian Brother for 52 years. Except for 10 years in New York City schools, his ministry has been spent at LaSalle as a teacher of history and religion and in campus ministry. He is a Schenectady native.
Why and how did you decide to become a brother?
I attended Christian Brothers Academy in Albany. It was during the days when we rode the city bus from Schenectady. I met the brothers there. I was interested in their lifestyle, I liked teaching and I liked high school.
Who influenced you the most in your vocation?
Brother Aloysius Myers at Christian Brothers Academy. He's still there. He's 80 and he's still doing guidance.
What did your parents think when you told them you wanted to be a brother?
They were supportive. They were very religious people. They told me I could give it a try. Whatever I chose, they said they would support me.
Were your expectations met?
Yes. My expectation was that I would be happy, have a relationship with God and live with men who were similar in interests and have a work in education.
We all look back. But in general, no. I've been very happy with how God has given me this life and this companionship. Early on I should have had more development in spirituality, but I have developed that area later on in life.
What's the best thing about working as a teacher and campus minister?
The students, more than any content I teach. There are many lifetime acquaintances I've made. They have stayed in contact with me over the years.
Why be a brother, not a priest?
A brother is a separate vocation, to be a lay religious and not be ordained. We want to devote ourselves fully to the ministry we're in. It's a different kind of lifestyle. We don't celebrate Mass. We are vowed laypeople. We take vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.
What's been the most difficult part?
When I realized I would not have children, the comfort of having a family of my own. It's a sacrifice. I was well aware of it.
Also, we don't have all that we might want to do with our own money. But we have the use of money and cars through the community.
What's the most joyful part?
It's the students over the years - molding them into solid Christian young men.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to go to the movies. I take a vacation to the seashore each summer. I read a lot of books. I enjoy eating out, the simple things of life. I enjoy being who I am.
What sacrament gives you the most peace?
Eucharist. It's the greatest peace because it's the central sacrament of all the sacraments.
What would you like people to know about brothers?
That brothers are ordinary guys who have chosen a life of consecration to God. From that choice, we experience the joy of knowing God wants us to be doing this. We come to that gradually via a process of discernment as we go through our life.
You are always growing. Right now, I'm dealing with the early stages of old age, making the best of this period of my life. Every part of life has its problems and opportunities.
FURLONG'S FAVORITES Music: pop songs of the 1950s and '60s, "the music I grew up with." Performer: Perry Como Movies: "I like movies with an inspirational message like 'Extraordinary Measures' and science fiction, like the Star Trek movies." TV show: "Law & Order" Recreation: "taking time each day to do some exercise, walking, getting away to clear my head." Sports team: New York Yankees Meal: Italian Dessert: pie