Brother Francis Regis Newbeck, FMS
Died: December 20, 2012
On behalf of Br. Regis’ sister Loraine, his nephew Mike and all his family as well as the Marist Brothers and the entire Molloy Community, I wish to express sincere gratitude to all of you for being here today as we bid farewell to our beloved brother as he makes his final journey home to our Lord.
Forest E. Witcraft, once said “One hundred years from now, it won’t matter what car I drove, what kind of house I lived in, how much I had in my bank account, nor what my clothes looked like, but the world may be a little better because I was important in the life of a child.” I think it is fair to say that it would be impossible to count the number of lives Brother Regis has been important to and has impacted, but I know that all of us who were lucky enough to have known him can certainly say that our worlds were more than a little better because of him.
The Marist Brothers’ constitutions identify three Marist virtues that should be the goal of every Marist Brother. They are simplicity, modesty and humility. Brother Regis lived each of these characteristics maybe as well as any Marist Brother ever has lived them. Another characteristic of being Marist is to “do good quietly.” For more than 46 years at Molloy, Regis did amazing things with great love for anyone that ever needed his help and he was most happy if no one ever knew about it. Many will remember him for his outstanding works as a Freshman Guidance councilor, or for his love and dedication to Peer Group, or his influence in helping to create the Smile Program and all he did to support it for so many years. For probably the first 30 of his years at Molloy, he was the one and only Freshman Councilor. That meant that he was responsible for seeing every single freshman that walked through the doors of Molloy. He didn’t take this job lightly and no one was ever over looked.
I still remember the first time I walked into his office when I was a freshman over 31 years ago. Right away I felt welcomed. Maybe it was his handshake as he met me at the door, maybe it was that smile. After the intros, he asked me “so Dan, how’s Molloy going for you so far?” “Great”, I said. He smiled and said, “I was just wondering Dan, because you’re failing 6 out of 7 classes.” And like so many others before me and so many more after me, he began to work his magic and influence in my life.
I’ve had the incredible blessing and privilege to know Regis for all these years. First as my councilor and mentor, then as my good friend, and finally as my Brother, I had the chance to live with him in community, to travel with him on many vacations, but most of all to love him and be loved by him. I am but one of so many that could stand here today and share about the impact and legacy that Regis was in our lives.
St. Marcellin Champagnat in regards to teaching young people once said to his early brothers “Remember that their lives will always be an echo of everything you’ve taught them.” The echo of Regis’ life is an incredible symphony. So how did he accomplish it and do it so well? I’d like to suggest 2 thoughts and one challenge. First, it was his love for people. Regis loved his family deeply and always stayed very connected to them even after he became a brother. He faithfully would visit his parents when they were alive and in later years his sister and nephew weekly without fail. He looked forward to being with them on al occasions bust especially on holidays and vacations. Regis loved his fellow Brothers and was incredibly proud and committed to living and building community among them, whether it was at prayer, meals, having a drink at 5:00pm, staying up all night to care for a sick Brother. He loved to celebrate special occasions. For many years, he helped always ensure parties at Bellport, especially the July 26th celebration would be not only enjoyed and remembered, but often the highlight of those summers.
Regis dearly loved Molloy and all those connected to it, he loved his fellow faculty, his students, the alumni, janitors, kitchen staff, maintenance crew. Everyone! He took time to do the little things that matter most in life. Every person that ever entered his life could be assured of three things: they would be welcomed, they would be listened to and they would be loved.
Second, I believe he accomplished all he did because of his dedication to prayer and his faith and total trust in Jesus and our Good Mother who never failed him. Of all the things I could say about Regis, the fact that he was one of the most prayerful people I’ve ever witnessed is I believe the true secret to most of his success. He prayed constantly for so many of us and trusted our Good mother to give us the graces we needed in our lives. I have no doubt he will continue to do so for us.
And finally, to all of us here today, although we grieve out of love and will no doubt miss Regis dearly in our daily lives. Let us leave today being grateful for the gift he was and the model and inspiration he always will be in our lives and more importantly as we enter into the Christmas season next week, let us in our own lives, like Regis did in his, allow Jesus to be born again through us and our actions. If we are to be the true symphony of his echo in our lives than we must like he did, entrust our lives to our Good Mother and continue to say “yes” to those challenges, opportunities and people that come into our life. And like Regis let us do it with a smile.
When I was last with Regis two weeks ago, he spoke of how he was really looking forward to Christmas this year. He would again be celebrating it with the Brothers on Christmas Eve and his family on Christmas day. Well, Regis, it is going to be a special Christmas this year in heaven. Your fellow Brothers, Phil Thellan, William Mielke, Steve Urban, Terrence Jones, Ron Marcellin, Leo Richard, and Champagnat himself will all be toasting you on Christmas Eve and saying “welcome home dear brother and well done faithful servant”. Your parents, and some of your closest friends like Sheila and Pat Murphy and Bob Englert will likewise be sharing Christmas day with you and the Holy Family and rejoicing for you and with you. Regis, you are going home for Christmas dear friend and I know you will be smiling when you get there.
– Br. Daniel O’Riordan, F.M.S.