A Sad Note

One of the first handful of people I met in the Order of Ecumenical Franciscans was a novitiate named Greg Williams, a New York native living in the Jamaica Plains section of Boston. It was some six to eight years ago and he was recovering from a cardiac episode that nearly killed him.

As a young man he had been a Catholic Brother for a number of years and then left that Order and started a family. When I met him, he had experienced much as a man of color in Boston and found his spiritual life with the Quaker faith.

Physically, he was a big tough lookin older guy, he had worked years in security at the medical center that saved him. He went on to profess his vows with the Franciscan Order and to take the name of Romero in honor of the archbishop who was martyred in his South American church.

Greg always attended the Order’s annual meeting and so was there when I attended for the first time. It happened to be a year that there was dissension and tension in the gathering. The retreat center’s air conditioning was taxed and to a person, those I knew were a bit unsettled.

This was not anything that I had anticipated and by 24 hours later I looked forward to escaping home. I came across Greg sitting alone in a common area and shared my disappointment, which I have learned since then is called complaining. He neither chided nor encouraged me, he was neither here nor there but spoke to me quietly and projected solid equanimity. In that moment it saved me and the memory still moves me by his simple faith and embodiment of authentic peaceful demeanor.

Anyway, years have passed and we have shared happier times together at regional and national meetings. He professed and then so did I last year which will have been his last year at Chapter. His health has been a problem lately and the word is that he is on hospice and supported by loving friends. There will never be another Brother Romero quite like him and I will not forget him and his peaceful ways.

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