Today’s find: Shining light

You just never know when you’re about to come face-to-face with a saint.

That notion certainly wasn’t on my radar screen back in September of 2002, when I first visited LaSalle Retreat Center as a guest—and met Brother Marvin Becker FSC.

One thing I noticed right away: He was a hard-working fella. Always on duty, whether in the kitchen or the scullery or tending to the boiler or staffing the front office or keeping LaSalle’s fields and grottos neat and trim.

As I got to know Brother Marvin better in the ensuing years, I developed a deep appreciation for his spirituality, too: How he detected the hand of Providence at work, both in his own life…and in the life of his religious community, the Christian Brothers.

DSC_0568_2_2Having spent 30+ years at LaSalle in Glencoe, he’d been an integral part of its heyday as a house of formation; he intimately knew, too, its darkest days—when the property sat mostly vacant, badly in need of repairs and maintenance, and had to scrounge for bookings that might one day give the place new life as a retreat center.

Brother Marvin easily detected God’s presence in both realities. He understood—and lived—the words written by the founder of the Christian Brothers, St. John Baptist de LaSalle: “Providence is the loving care that God takes of his creatures. It is the way God arranges events in our lives for our own good, even if we don’t always see it that way.” So he worked…and worked hard over the past 30 years…to lay the groundwork for the center’s survival. But he also trusted—ever confident that God would provide.

There are tens of thousands of us who’ve come to know LaSalle as ‘holy ground’ during this most recent chapter of its life. We’ve heard Brother Marvin talk about its history…and describe the journey of faith that made the transformation to retreat center possible. We have been blessed, then, in immeasurable ways by all the Christian Brothers who served there…and blessed in particular by this one special man. We’ve been blessed by his energy…his vision…his zeal.

A little over a week ago, Gerri and I had a chance to pray with Brother Marvin one last time in the hospital. I’d brought along my missalette that day…and I thumbed back to those pages today…just to savor some of the words of scripture we’d shared during our joyful visit.

They came from Psalm 37 – but they might as well have come straight from this holy man’s heart:

Trust in the Lord and do good;

Then you will dwell in the land and safely pasture.

Find your delight in the Lord

Who grants your heart’s desire.


Commit your way to the Lord;

Trust in him and he will act,

And make your uprightness shine like the light,

The justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

Godspeed, Brother Marvin. And know that, for all of us who loved you, the light of your life will forever shine radiantly in our hearts!

On this holy ground...we encountered a saint!

On this holy ground…we encountered a saint!


Let us pause now…to recall that we are in the presence of the Holy One.



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20 thoughts on “Today’s find: Shining light

  1. Jim

    Thanks for putting into words, so well, the thoughts of many of us.
    Jim Massmann

  2. Nick

    Thanks for writing this John

  3. Dave Mason

    Thanks John. I feel that I am fortunate to have gotten the opportunity to know him at all.

  4. Gerrie Becket

    Thank you all. This is beautiful. I am his oldest niece and want you all to know…..he knew he was loved.

  5. Steve Molen

    John…your Reflection on the Life of Brother Marvin Becker, was beautiful and poignant…for men of his ilk, are few and far between, and Brother Marvin will be truly missed…

  6. Mike Albers

    St. John Baptist de la Salle, pray for Brother Marvin, Help welcome him into the eternal presence of Jesus.

  7. Joe Mueller

    Reblogged this on Uncommon Catholic and commented:
    Sharing an outstanding post from John Schroeder on the life and service of Brother Marvin…

  8. MIchael Bitter

    Thanks, John. I had a couple of really great conversations with Bro Marvin about how things were during those “dark days” while he and the other brothers waited to learn how God wanted them to serve. He was an amazing and faith-filled servant and teacher. Thank you, Lord for the gift of Brother Marvin. And, thank you, John, for your beautiful missive!

  9. mike

    Thanks for capturing what many know but can’t often express. . . Tres bien

  10. Joe Witkowski

    Well done good and faithful servant. Your reward is everlasting. Be welcomed into the light of the face of the Risen Christ.

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  12. Daisy

    Thank you John for capturing the life of Bro Marvin. His smile was always welcoming. His humble and gentle soul ever ready to serve in any way that he could. Eternal rest grant unto Bro Marvin and welcome him home into your kingdom Lord. You are loved and will be greatly missed Bro Marvin. Rest in peace.

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  16. David Sauerburger

    Brother Marvin was special. Your words ring true for others too. An agency I have worked with for 25 years recently learned that a Sister who has been with the program since 1964 has decided to retire at age 75. She was much like Brother Marvin in the way she approached everyday. We should all appreciate and learn from those we encounter with such enthusiasm.

  17. Don Reitmeyer

    Thanks for writing this beautiful tribute to a holy and incredibly gentle man. He and Brother Joe Zastrow were great examples for me and did so much to promote the ACTS community.

  18. Gerrie Becker

    I went back to re-read this a year later. Thanks so much.

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