By Jennifer Mauro | Associate Editor
The community of Christian Brothers Academy, Lincroft, is mourning the loss of one of its brothers after he was struck and killed outside the school.
Funeral services for Christian Brother James Leahy will be held Oct. 30 in Alumni Hall of Christian Brothers Academy, 850 Newman Springs Road. Brother James died Oct. 26. He was 88. A viewing will be held from 11 to 2 p.m., followed by a Mass of Christian Burial.
Brother James, who had recently retired from active ministry, was struck while crossing Newman Springs Road on his afternoon daily walk to nearby Thompson Park. The driver of the vehicle, a 25-year-old Manalapan woman, has been cooperating with the investigation, police said.
Christian Brother Frank Byrne, president of Christian Brothers Academy, described Brother James as a spiritual man who was continuously active, even in his later years.
“That’s the type of guy he was,” Brother Frank said. “At an age when other guys would be putting their feet up or hitting the golf course, he was full of energy.”
Brother James – who had a 60-plus year career as an educator, including working as a college professor in Manhattan College, Bronx, N.Y., and St. Mary's College, Moraga, Calif. – spent his 60s and 70s working in Africa – as a missionary in Kenya and overseeing a novitiate in Eritrea.
He came to CBA in 2007, serving as an administrator in De La Salle Hall, the campus’ nursing home for retired Christian Brothers. He retired in 2014 and was present at Mass each day in the school chapel, as well as other school activities, Brother Frank said. He also volunteered his time working in the school library.
“He was a doer,” said Christian Brother Bud Knight, who served as De La Salle Hall director when Brother James was assistant director. “He was deeply spiritual – a Scripture scholar – and we talked about prayer often.”
Brother Bud, who worked in Africa when Brother James was in Kenya, said Brother James will be deeply missed by both the brothers and the staff, describing him as welcoming and friendly.
“I used to call him God’s delight,” he said, adding that Brother James didn’t mind because, “He knew I really meant it. I loved him dearly.”
Many of the brothers fondly remembered Brother James as an avid reader who loved to learn. “If you didn’t get to the New York Times before him, forget it. You wouldn’t see it for the next three hours,” Christian Brother Timothy Ahern said with a smile in his voice.
“He was a great guy to have in the community,” he said. “There is a definite pall over the house.”
Brother Ahern said that since learning of the death, many students have been expressing their condolences to the brothers.
“They know that the brothers are like family,” he said, adding that he was moved by the students’ thoughtfulness. “It gives you a lot of confidence in young people today.”
Brother James was born James Joseph Leahy Sept. 1, 1928, in New York, N.Y. He entered the Brothers of the Christian Schools novitiate June 27, 1946, in Barrytown, N.Y., and received the religious habit and name Brother Charles James Sept. 7, 1946. He pronounced his perpetual vows in 1953 at Hillside Hall, Troy, N.Y.
His many teaching credits include Sacred Heart School, New York, N.Y.; St. Peter’s High School, Staten Island, N.Y.; Jesu Magister, Rome, Italy; St. Joseph Novitiate, Barrytown, N.Y.; Lateran University, Rome, Italy; Sangre de Cristo, Santa Fe, N.M., and Christian Brothers Novitiate, Skaneateles, N.Y.
Interment for Brother James will be 10 a.m. Oct. 31 in St. Gabriel’s Cemetery, 549 County Road 520, Marlboro. Higgins Memorial Home, Freehold, is in charge of arrangements.