Breaking (banana) bread
He laughs as he tells us he’s “speckled fruit.”
“That’s what they called those of us in the contagion of the world too long,” says Brother Bob Hughes, S.M.
He joined the Society of Mary after an untraditional path: having received a bachelor’s degree in design from University of Cincinnati — skirting mandatory ROTC training — and then having been drafted into two years of military service. Most of the 100 other men at the novitiate came straight from high school. “It was a good place for a novitiate,” Brother Bob, 78, joked of the four-house village of Marcy, New York. “You couldn’t wander off.”
Brother Bob, a designer for University of Dayton Magazine, professed vows to the Society of Mary 50 years ago. While he balked when his magazine co-workers offered to throw him a party, he joined us in a celebratory breaking of homemade banana bread around the proofreading table — and even washed the bread plate and knife.
As the Marianist sisters and brothers celebrate their bicentennial, Brother Bob offers us a window into a quarter of that history.
Brother Bob’s first campus address was on Trinity Avenue at a time when Brother Tom Giardino, S.M. ’65, opened its doors to international Marianists who came for a UD education. It did not matter the nationality of their birth, Brother Bob says; he recognized them all.
“They had the same quality of spirit, of life, of concern for one another, and of community where everyone is involved,” he remembers thinking. “I was impressed that this personality that I had attributed as Marianist was present all over the world.”
Today, Brother Bob lives in the community on Chambers Street with brothers from Haiti, India, Switzerland and Togo. He walks to work in Albert Emanuel Hall and pulls out his chair, a gray cardigan draped over the back. Above his computer hang family portraits with the Chambers housemates smiling out.
When he remembers back to the day he professed his vows, he recalls the man in line in front of him who skipped out at the last moment. Brother Bob never had doubts.
“I’ve only wondered, why do I like this life so much?” he asks. “I feel really privileged to be in a religious family that empathizes the dignity of each individual and allows its members to grow in faith in a way that respects their individual talents.”
And we feel privileged to work with and know so many wonderful vowed Marianists. Thank you, and happy anniversary.