Getting to Know Brother Rene
By Brook Hillis '26
Source for photo above: Eva Nanje '23
Most, if not all of you, must know our Central Catholic Campus Minister and Marist Brother, Brother Rene Roy. Yet, what you may not know is that Brother Rene was a student here at Central from 1955-1959, and he was part of the original student newspaper. I had the honor to sit down and talk with him about his life, interests, and even prior experience on The Raider, the CCHS newspaper in the 50’s. It was an eye-opening experience, and I am so glad to share it with our wonderful CCHS community.
Now, let us get to know our beloved Brother!
What was Central Catholic like when you went to school here?
It was an all-boys school, 980 students in total. The building consisted of our current newly renovated gym, built by the Marist Brothers from 1948-1950, and two other wooden buildings that no longer exist. The past address was 99 Auburn St, Lawrence.
I learned that you worked on the newspaper as a student; what was your position on the newspaper?
Editor. The paper started when I was a Junior (1958) and it came out once a month. To print the newspaper students would have to go to a local printer (the Eagle-Tribune), with all the articles counted word by word and measured to fit an accompanying layout. There were no copy machines or computers then as we have now.
What kind of stories did you publish in the paper?
Many events around and relating to the school were published. There was a page to highlight certain students, a student profile as well as editorials, letters to the editor, and a sports page. The newspaper was four pages front and back.
What sport, clubs, or activities were you a part of during your student years at Central?
I was a prefect of the organization called “The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary.” I also worked as an editor of The Raider for two years, was a member of the track team in my freshman year, and part of the drama club in my sophomore year.
What was happening in the world during the years you were at Central Catholic?
A major event was the recent end of the Korean War. It was a very calm period and very prosperous for the United States. There was more trust between people, less crime, and very little, if any, drug use or trafficking. Kids walked or took the bus to school, as not many kids drove cars at the time. Television was just coming out, and again not many people had TVs. There were many local parishes that had activities for teens, and Central had dances every Friday night in the Memorial Gym which were very popular and well attended. The music at the dances was provided by playing records. I spent quite a lot of time at my parish and with the Boy Scouts. Overall, the 50’s was a peaceful time and ideal for growing up normally.
What was your first assignment as a Marist Brother?
My first assignment was as a cook in Saint Joseph, Novitiate in Tyngsborough, MA, where young men who wanted to be Brothers would spend two years in what we called “initial formation.” I would cook three meals a day, seven days a week for 80 people. I was also asked to teach philosophy to the new Postulants (those in the first year of formation), which I did for the academic year.
What are some of the jobs and places you have been as a brother?
I have served as a campus minister, college professor, cook, high school teacher, vocations director, principal, pastoral minister and high school president. These postings took me from West Virginia to South Dakota to Switzerland and Africa!
What brought you back to Central Catholic after being a Brother and visiting so many other countries and areas?
To become a Brother you must take a vow of obedience. It is a vow to promise that as a Brother you will do whatever you’re told and complete any assignment that is assigned to you. I was assigned back to Central Catholic and have been at the school since 2005. I was very surprised to be sent back here, but I was also very excited to be back.
What are some of your hobbies?
To start, I love writing. I enjoy writing and keeping in touch with prior students, and I even have a book coming out this March! It is a devotional book called “Brother Rene’s Daily Bread,” and includes scripture quotes, meditations, and reflections for each day of the year. Another few of my hobbies are running, gardening, and playing piano. I have been a runner for 36 years and love to grow things wherever I’m stationed. I’m decent at growing crops, such as flowers and vegetables and have also taken over 12 years of piano lessons. Once my book is completed, I plan to get back to “tickling the ivories”!
What would your perfect day look like?
My perfect day begins with morning prayer and mass. I love coming to school and interacting with students. I still have a huge correspondence via email with former students and alumni; I also love to interact with students during school hours and in Campus Ministry before and after school.
What types of articles would you like to see published in today's newspaper?
I would love to see stories about outstanding students, and an added student spotlight section to the Raider Review. I would also like to see a section about teachers, and their backgrounds, interests, and talents. Some other great story ideas would be promotions for the campus ministry retreats, the Encounter, and the service project days that Campus Ministry offers to all students.
And finally, Brother Rene, what is your favorite dessert?
I love brownies.
I just wanted to say thank you so much to Brother Rene for taking the time to talk with me; it was really a wonderful experience, and I am so glad that we had this opportunity to get to know more about our Campus Minister. Furthermore, if you get around to it, feel free to drop off a batch of brownies to Brother Rene’s office in Campus Ministry!