Written by Mike Moffatt, class of '66.
My wife, Mary Anne, and I were in Baltimore on business this week, and we had dinner with former Brother Brian Goonan and his wife Anna Maria.
I've been in touch with Brian for the past dozen years or so via e-mail, but this is the first time we've gotten together since Brother J.M. Clark's funeral. We had a great time reminiscing about our years in the Brothers and especially the Kearney years. Brian even informed his wife that the BK students called him "sugar bear."
A lot of names came up. He specifically mentioned Pat Shatzel, Walt Szarlacki, Phil Smith, Greg Wroblewski, Mike Critelli, & Ray Jesien. Unfortunately, since my folks moved from Rochester to Bloomfield Hills, MI while I was in the Novitiate, I've lost touch with my BK classmates and couldn't give Brian much news.
During the evening I realized how special this man was and how lucky we were to have him as a teacher. Brian entered the Irish Christian Brothers at the age of 15 after completing only 2 years at Power Memorial High School. Brian took the religious name "Kevin", so I guess it was fate that BK Goonan would be assigned to Bishop Kearney someday. He was sent from Iona College to teach at All Hallows Institute before he finished his under-graduate degree. We had that in common. The Provincial also sent me to All Hallows to teach before I graduated from Iona College. I was only 4 credits short and finished my requirements with an independent study course, Brian was a full year and a half short. Brian who was only 18 at the time he arrived at All Hallows was teaching some seniors that were older than he. I only had to worry about Freshman. I left the Brothers after my 6 months at All Hallows, Brian left All Hallows and came to Bishop Kearney in January 1964. He was only 5 1/2 years older most of us. He still didn't have his degree. He taught 5 Spanish classes, coached JV sports, took a class at St. John Fisher College in the morning and also went to school at night.
In 1966 after we graduated from Bishop Kearney, Brother BK Goonan was one of 3 Irish Christian Brothers sent to open up a new mission in Peru. He was 23 years old and knew that he probably would not see his family again for maybe 7 years. Brian spent most of the next 32 years working in the Brothers' schools in Peru. He took some time off to get a Masters degree from Columbia University.
In 1998 after being a Brother for nearly 40 years, he left the Congregation. He was 55. No Social Security credits, no pension, no medical coverage. Right away he went to work for Catholic Relief Services. He was assigned to several positions in Central America, Cuba and South America. He ended his 16 year career at CRS this past August after serving as Regional Director in Bolivia for the last 4 or 5 years. While with CRS, Brian married Anna Maria. They knew each other in Peru and have now been married for 12 years.
Brian, who turns 72 in a few days, is currently waiting to hear from World Vision. He is a strong candidate to become their Director in Guatemala. Brian told me he has "a few years left in the tank" and wants to continue with his vocation as a Christian and Humanitarian servicing the poor and disadvantaged peoples of Central and South America. He says if World Vision doesn't work out, he find another group doing the same work.
He looks great and says he's in good health. He doesn't play the guitar any more but still loves his Irish music.
If anyone wants to get in touch with Brian, his e-mail address is: email@example.com