Remembering Fr. Dunstan McAndrews

 

Father Dunstan


In life and in death Fr. Dunstan was a very colorful person. Many individual stories, told by confreres and former students, weave a pattern of a strong person, a bit bumptious at times, but kind and thoughtful. I myself have many memories. They reveal different aspects of his personality, different facets of his interests. Most of all I recall his love of music and his willingness to go to any lengths to get a group going. One of the bright hours of his week in latter days was playing with a small group of monks who tried hard, barely successfully, to make music together. Even when he could no longer walk, and could hardly see, we wheeled him and his baritone horn to wherever we were playing. Were I to try to capture my vision of him I would describe him as a little boy in a big man's body who tried too hard to be graceful, but in his bumbling, fumbling way managed to grace our lives by his wit, by his charm, by his simplicity. He shunned intimacy like the plague, but could not disguise, though he would try, his loving heart of gold.

I had communicated the news of Father's death to my classmates and was touched by a number of responses. One in particular by Raymond Reno, a former student who had not seen Fr. Dunstan for at least fifty years, attested to the deep impression that Father had had in his life. None of us could do justice to the wide variety of his interests, but I thought that Ray communicated well a feel for the Fr. Dunstan we all remember. Here is what he said:

"No one who ever knew him could forget him, and my memories of him are vivid--a big, red-faced man of great energy, with a swashbuckling way of walking--much swinging of meaty arms--and he'd throw his head back when he laughed or told a joke, and he loved jokes. He also had somewhat of a heavy hand in teaching. I got more than a few claps along the side of the head for stupid answers or paying insufficient attention. But there was no malice or cruelty in him. He was, you'll remember, the instructor for the Red Cross life-saving program, and our final test was to dive into the lake and haul him ashore. He didn't make the task easy--just barely possible. Another memory is of his urging us to do at least ten sit-ups a day and promising that if we did, we'd soon have stomachs like washboards--all this from a man who own stomach was as far from being a washboard as that of the Pilsbury Doughboy! What a grand man he was, though! I'm sure he's deeply missed by everyone at St. Meinrad."

Yes, Ray, he is deeply missed.

Copyright 2003 Saint Meinrad Archabbey