In Memoriam - October Newsletter



Brother Philip Armstrong (MMEd ‘58), C.S.C., age 81, died on June 24, 2014 at Dujarie House, in Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame, Indiana. He was born in South Bend, Indiana on October 9, 1932, the son of James and Marion (Attick) Armstrong. He attended St. Matthew's and Holy Cross Elementary Schools in South Bend and graduated from Central Catholic High in 1950. The example of the Brothers must have had a strong influence on Philip, since he entered the Sacred Heart Juniorate in Watertown, Wisconsin a few weeks after graduating. He began his religious training a few months later at St. Joseph's Novitiate in Rolling Prairie, Indiana, and pronounced his first vows on August 16, 1951. Philip then started his college studies at the University of Notre Dame and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1955. He later earned a Master's degree at the VanderCook College of Music in Chicago in 1958 and a Master's in Educational Administration at Siena Heights College in 1966. After graduating from Notre Dame, he taught for a semester at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, OH and then in Austin, TX at St. Edward's High School for 2 years. In 1957, he joined the faculty at Boysville of Michigan in Clinton where he served for 9 years and was the Director for 4 years. In 1966, he was assigned to Ghana where he spent 13 years teaching at secondary schools in Sekondi and Cape Coast and the diocesan seminary in Amisano, where he was rector for 4 years. He served as District Superior of West Africa for 2 years and was chosen to attend the Midwest Chapter in 1979 where he was surprised to be elected the Provincial of the Midwest Province and served a 6-year term until 1985. He took a sabbatical for study in Louisville, KY in 1986 and at the summer General Chapter, he was elected an Assistant General of the Congregation for a 6-year term until 1992. After admirably serving the Congregation leadership both in Rome and with the Midwest Province, Brother Philip was given a 2-year sabbatical for a Province Writing Project. He had already written a book (Intersections) consisting of a compilation of his poetry and reflections. He researched and produced three books, a biography of Brother Ephrem O'Dwyer, C.S.C., and two books on the histories of the Midwest Province and of the District of West Africa. His most recent book was on praying the rosary using one's own personal mysteries. In 1994 he served as the Secretary to the Provincial, Brother William Geenen, for 6 years and beginning in 2000, he assisted and provided consultation with the Province Development Office for 11 years. At the time he lived in Holy Cross Village where he served as a facilitator and leader in a variety of projects for the residents. In 2011, he moved to Dujarie House where he passed to his eternal reward. Philip claimed he had three primary ministries in Holy Cross, teaching, administration, and writing. Brother Roger Jamison once said, "If I want to get something done, I give it to a busy man." Roger believed that such a person would find time in one's work to accomplish even more. Philip was such a person. His teaching prowess in English, French and music was exemplary. His leadership skills were legendary for he utilized the expertise and talents of those who served with him in provincial and general administrations. It is his writing ministry in which we have copious examples of his gifts and talents. He authored five books. He composed more than 1400 poems and essays. He wrote numerous articles, book reviews, and letters to editors of religious and secular newspapers and journals. He carried on a prolific correspondence with Holy Cross friends, former students and especially his Armstrong family where he was a great communicator and genealogist. Philip's other ministries were his spiritual strengths, as a retreat master, spiritual counselor, and eulogist. His artistic creative talents were evident in the hundreds of intricate geometrical designs on 3x5 cards where he used colorful pastel sticks. He even created a complex board game called 'Winners,' a combination of checkers, parcheesi, bingo, and monopoly played at many gatherings of the Armstrong family. Three years ago at his Jubilee celebration, Philip wrote, "After 60 years of vowed life I grow even more grateful to God for the opportunity to serve and hope I have brought at least some brightness to the corners of the world I was privileged to influence."


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