Those were holy days for us.
Those were holy days for us.

Those were holy days for us.

a My Dunrovin Story, by Brother Richard Roller, FSC

Front row: Brothers Frank Carr, Mark Gault, Gerard Pihaley, Robert Thomas, Nick Geimer, Dick Roller
Back row: Brothers Basil Rothweiler, Dominic Kennedy, Larry Schatz, Michael Lee Anderson, Robert Smith, Charles Kelly

It was 1983. I had been two years at Windsor Novitiate. We closed for lack of novices. With the Brother Visitor’s blessing, I set out for Menasha in Wisconsin to accompany Brother Dan Landowski in establishing La Salle Center, a residential retreat center for young adult Catholics. As our effort evolved, Dan returned to teach high school religion after two years and I was let go by the high school next door a few months into our second year. Offering part time help, I stayed on until 1993 when I voluntarily went on a semester’s sabbatical so that my salary could finance some part-time youth ministers. Afterward, I returned to Menasha to discover that the Board of Directors had decided to discontinue the resident community part of our ministry. Nonetheless, they would allow me to stay in residence. I elected to move on. In consultation with the Brother Visitor, I moved lock stock and barrel to Dunrovin, joining the resident community of Brothers. They welcomed me, and I began to settle in and heal from the painful transition. 

Brother Martin had recently been appointed interim administrator and soon after my arrival, the Dunrovin Board hired Jerome Meeds, and his family moved onsite. I took on some fund raising tasks and a little bit of maintenance for the house shared with Brothers Mark and Ed. I felt sufficiently involved. My heaviest effort was in trying to establish a program of retreats for alumni of Benilde High School. It never took fire. I took over grocery shopping and supper cooking for the three of us. We got along famously and were happy campers. Highly motivated to do some baking, I discovered without a lot of effort that the heating coil in the oven was just that – simply a coil.  All I had to do was locate and re-connect where the coil was broken.

Some months along, I finally responded to God’s persistent call to get involved with the Minnesota State Penitentiary located just south of Stillwater. I became a regular visitor to men locked up in their cells and an occasional Communion service presider.

Those were holy days for us. Mark was a quiet spiritual reader and jigsaw puzzler. Nobody needs to tell Mark that sometimes at the end of the day after he had retired to his bedroom, I would go over to his puzzle-in-progress and remove the pieces he had forced into almost the right places. Ed was living out his last years, clearly at peace with himself and with God. I believe the three of us were glad for the other two.  We played “Nines,” a card game, but an occasion for each of us to brag a little about particularly astute plays we made. Community prayer was a sacred, shared time. It also provided the background for our monthly community meetings when we decided what charities to support. It was no secret that Mark was already on every mailing list requesting help. Toward the end of my fifth year, Ed’s health began to fail to a degree that it became clear and attractive for him to transfer to a nursing home in St. Paul. I began to realize that with both Mark and me aging, it would be unrealistic for us to stay on, just the two of us.

Our few years together at Dunrovin were sacred. The beauty of the property and the quiet of
the location clearly communicated that we were in the holy presence of God.

Brother Dick Roller FSC, famous at Dunrovin for baking breads and desserts with ANY concoction of ingredients on hand, lives in a community of Brothers at the Resurrection Care Center in Chicago. When Brother Dick prays, he talks as though the God of Goodness is sitting right next to him.