The Alexian Brothers have re-established their community in Milwaukee after a five-year hiatus, leading to several new assignments for members of the Immaculate Conception Province of the Congregation of Alexian Brothers.
Ascension Living is part of the healthcare division of St. Louis-based Ascension, the largest nonprofit healthcare system in the nation. The Alexian Brothers have been one of Ascension’s sponsoring religious congregations since Alexian Brothers Health System became part of Ascension in 2012.
Brother Richard Lowe, C.F.A., director of the Alexian Brothers Community in St. Louis, has succeeded Brother John as community director in Signal Mountain. Brother Warren Longo, C.F.A., director of postulants for the province and formerly assistant general of the congregation, has succeeded Brother Richard as community director in St. Louis. In addition, Brother Richard Kane, C.F.A., a member of the St. Louis community, has joined the Signal Mountain community.
The Brothers’ decision to return to Milwaukee reflects their belief that “we must have a Brothers presence in our older-adult facilities,” said Provincial Brother Dan McCormick, C.F.A.
Brother John is uniquely qualified for his new role because he served at Alexian Village from 2000 to 2006 and because “you can’t be around him for five minutes without knowing what the Brothers are committed to doing,” Brother Dan said. “He is the best ambassador I could have assigned to Milwaukee.”
Residents have welcomed the Brothers’ return to Alexian Village, where they maintained a residence for years before closing it as their numbers dwindled because of the deaths of older Brothers and an overall decline in religious vocations. The province recently has registered progress in attracting men to religious life, and this success contributed to the decision to return to Milwaukee.
“I went there to tell residents about our decision, and countless ladies stopped me with tears in their eyes, saying `Thank you for giving the Brothers back to us,’ ’’ Brother Dan said.
Alexian Village held a reception for Brother John soon after he moved into the Brothers’ former residence on the community’s campus Sept. 1. Alexian Village had maintained the resi- dence and had used it intermittently for office space and meetings after the Brothers left.
Alexian Village residents “have been so effusive with their com- ments,” said Brother John, who helped organize musicals and main- tain the chapel during his previous stint at Alexian Village and knowsa number of its current residents. “They’ve been so welcoming, and they keep saying they’re so glad an Alexian Brother is back here.”
In his Brothers-presence role, Brother John will visit regularly with residents in dining areas and other community spaces. He also will serve on the resident council.
Although Brother John now is the only Brother at Alexian Village, plans call for assigning another Brother to join him as soon as possible. Until then, representatives of the Alexian Brothers Community in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, plan to visit him two days a month for commu- nity prayers and retreats “and to give John company,” Brother Dan said.
Brother John Howard, C.F.A., is the new director of the Alexian Brothers Community in Milwaukee. He is providing a Brothers presence at Alexian Village, an independent-living and long-term-care community operated by Ascension Living.