Rev. David J. Arthur, C.S.C.

arthurBROCKTON, MASS. Rev. David J. Arthur, C.S.C., 89, died on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at the Braemoor Health Center in Brockton, Massachusetts.

He was born on Aug. 6, 1927, in Pittsburgh, Penn., to David and Kathryn (Klein) Arthur, the eldest of three children. He attended twelve years of parochial school under the direction of the Sisters of Mercy, then received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., in 1950. As a Religious of the Congregation of Holy Cross, he made First Vows on Aug. 16, 1947, professing Final Vows on Jun. 3, 1953, and he was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1954. After Ordination, Fr. Arthur was assigned to Stonehill College from 1954 to 1956. His primary areas of teaching were philosophy and mathematics but, in his early years, he also taught metaphysics, logic, rational psychology, and cosmology. From 1956 to 1957, he completed a MAin philosophy at Catholic University, and then taught at King’s College, Wilkes-Barre, Pa. in the summer of 1957 before returning to Stonehill College from 1957 to 1965 to teach. As an administrator, he ran the evening division and the intramural program. He was also the director of the library from 1960 to 1965, the affirmative action officer, and an accomplished academic dean. From 1965 to 1966, Fr. Arthur studied at the University of Michigan and obtained a Ph.D. in college administration, and continued to remain in the Midwest as formation staff at Moreau Seminary, Notre Dame, IN, from 1971 to 1972, and chaplain at the Holy Cross Brothers’ Center, Notre Dame, Ind., from 1972 to 1973. In 1973, Fr. Arthur returned to Stonehill College in Easton, Mass. As the College’s first Director of Institutional Research, he marshalled the data essential to modern education. Fr. Arthur held that position until his retirement in 2000, and was also chaplain of Moreau Hall in North Easton, Mass. from 1974 to 1978. After his retirement from Stonehill, Fr. Arthur served as the archivist of the Congregation of Holy Cross Eastern Province Archives until 2012.

Preceding him in death are his parents, David and Kathryn Arthur, and sister Barbara McAfee.

He is survived by his sister Kathleen Ranallo; niece, Lynda Korey; and cousin, Donald Paul, all of whom reside in Pittsburgh, Pa.

The Visitation for Fr. Arthur will be Wednesday, March 30, 2016 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Chapel of Mary, Stonehill College, Easton, MA. A Wake service at will be at 7:30 p.m.

A Funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. Thursday (March 31, 2016) in the Chapel of Mary, Stonehill College, Easton, MA. Burial will be in the Holy Cross Cemetery on the College campus. Kane Funeral Home, Easton, is in charge of the arrangements.

In lieu of flowers, gifts can be made in support of the mission and ministries of the Congregation of Holy Cross via: United States Province of Priests and Brothers, Office of Development, 500 Washington Street, North Easton, MA 02356-1299 or online at

Wake Eulogyby Fr. James Chichetto, C.S.C.
Mar. 30, 2016

Fr. Arthur told me one time that when he was a young religious, his mother told some of this peers that “David was going to be the President of Notre Dame some day.” She said it rather audaciously, as a matter of fact, as only Mrs. Arthur could! Dave was amused by it all and didn’t mind, noting, “All mothers think their sons are presidential.”

He did, of course, get top honors in his class, and he believed he could do most anything, if taught or trained. And, of course, for Dave, in all social contexts in relation to his mother, “mother was always right.” Dave revered his mother; and though he didn’t agree with her all the time, he still respected her and esteemed everything she said or did. At times, I believe, he felt his mother could never be appreciated enough.

Needless to say, Dave got a charge out of it all, especially watching the reaction of his peers to the fabulous pride of his mother. But then he would say, “We grow small trying to be big shots. It’s all right for mothers, but we know better.” And, of course, Dave had no desire to be president, in the first place. Like Nathaniel in the Gospel, there was no guile in Dave in this regard. He would say bluntly, “I don’t have the chemistry for it.” He liked being a priest, a Holy Cross priest and religious.

He did, however, have the wherewithal and chemistry to do practically everything else at a college, short of being president. Indeed, he did most everything else at Stonehill College! He taught philosophy, logic, and metaphysics while a resident priest at O’Hara Hall. Professor Tom Clarke of Stonehill told me that Dave was his best undergraduate professor. Dave ran the evening division at the college and supervised the inter-mural program, was director of the library, overseeing the library’s early growth, was the affirmative action officer of the college, and was later appointed Provost (called “Academic Dean,” back then).

And of course, I am leaving out all the weekend work he did at parishes, as was customary, and janitorial work Holy Cross priests and brothers sometimes did in the nineteen fifties, between grading papers, when the college couldn’t afford extra help. Dear Lord, the test of obedience in those days was to be patient with challenging jobs like that, all under the wall charts of holy labor! It wasn’t easy!

When, in his early forties, a Provincial asked him to study for a PhD in College Administration, Dave said he didn’t think twice about it and went off to study at the University of Michigan, his first choice. He said his Department Chair at Michigan was so impressed with his academic record, that he shortened his stay there to one year so that he could start his dissertation the following year. He also said (because of writers’ block or fatigue or depression thinking about what lay ahead in research) he had a hard time some mornings just to get out of bed to finish a deadline, but he did. “Doing research for dissertations ought never be practiced to excess,” he’d joke, and “Every path has its puddles.”

While writing his dissertation at Moreau Seminary, he was invited to be on the formation staff, which he accepted. Not surprisingly, he finished his degree in less than five years and returned to Stonehill as the College’s first Director of Institutional Research. “You didn’t get any break or some time off?” I once asked him. “That wasn’t the policy,” he said. “The reward was what you gave back to the community.” And when Fathers Kevin Spicer and Steve Wilbricht were awarded their higher degrees at different times and had to get back to work almost the next day, Dave said: “Good! Some policies don’t change! The better ones!” There was no guile in that.

Everything was a duty to Dave — a religious duty, a social or an intellectual one. I think he would agree with Cicero that there wasn’t a moment in time without some sort of duty to perform for the greater good. In Dave’s case, the greater good was ultimately performed for Christ, the Gospels, as he saw the Gospels lived out in Holy Cross, especially in the local community and in the apostolate at Stonehill. If faithful to the duties of the present, God would take care of the rest, he used to say. “Just do what you can and let God worry about it.” It was a simple attitude of faith, but very revelatory and reassuring almost like a pardon or furlough from a fastidious desire to please God and people all the time.

Meister Eckhart, the 13rh century Dominican monk, said: “A man can only spend in good works and duty what he earns in contemplation.” This leads me to believe Dave had a contemplative side to him, expressed not only in public and private prayer, at Mass and Divine Office, respectively, but also in his love of music (with one opera or musical shadowed by another on his CD player), his long walks in his bare feet, and in his passion for sun bathing as if he needed to confront the sunlight, head-on. He relished these private activities away from a busy schedule as if when engaged in them some new paradise had entered a corner of his reticent soul.

I could go on trying to praise this decent man, this good priest and friend to so many, including myself, but I won’t. He told me one time he was grateful for everything the Community had given him. He was equally blessed with wonderful parents and two great sisters, Kay and Barbara. And though he had tough times under some early presidents, he would joke that there were depths of good will and decency in Holy Cross far deeper than any malice could reach and that those were the depths that had graced and sustained him all his religious life.

He was proud of the new guys coming along, of the visits by novices and seminarians, of Tim Mouton’s Ordination, as well as content with the current CSC family with whom he had made his home. And certainly, for him, his last two superiors Fathers Jim Lackenmier and Tony Szakaly were over-the-top great, the gold standard, as it were.

He would say this without guile, whether on short trips to Maine or elsewhere, even when at times I’d be cracking my knuckles over a restaurant table (like at Warren’s in Kittery, Maine) hinting to him that not all superiors were that perfect! “Heck, Dave, they’re not Jesus!” But he would hear none of it. He only had praise for them, and for everyone in the local community, and really for most people. Indeed, he had a litany of people whom he highly regarded, both on and off campus! I honestly don’t recall him ever cultivating nasty rumors about anyone. He saw Christ in everyone, however disengaged the person was, or pushy, bright, dull, or odd or over the top. I think he believed nothing human was alien to grace, to Christ. Everyone was redeemable. And he felt badly for people who couldn’t get over grudges.

The great short story writer and novelist Flannery O’Connor once said, “Most of us come to the church by means the church does not allow.” That is, most come to redemption through terrible deeds, through sin, through breaking the rules, through doing or saying things we regret later on. But these things eventually bring us to God, O’Connor believed, if we have need of redemption, of freedom, of grace. They become stimulants to amendment. I think Dave saw this O’Connor cycle or pattern in everyone he met. Grace was hidden along the path of everyone’s life, however deadened with hurt or sin. He really believed that. So he just couldn’t say offensive things about anyone.

No one was under the protection of evil, as it were. Each and every person, he believed, was under the protection of a forgiving God and was quite safe there under that divine shelter. And so who was he to put someone down, to pass judgment on someone, or to mark off someone in black, as it were? That’s what I was trying to allude to when I said Dave believed nothing human, that nothing in a human being, was alien to Christ. Everyone was redeemable; everyone was God’s project, God’s intention or holy design. In this way, Dave saw Christ in everyone, in his own quiet, decent, reticent way of being Dave Arthur. And that was the mystery of the man. That was his gift as a Holy Cross priest.

Anyway, may Dave rest in peace in Our Lord Jesus, who succeeds all darkness and ambiguity in our lives with His brilliant Light of Mercy, His Easter Glory, and with his inclusive hand of forgiveness!

Funeral Homilyby Fr. Joe Callahan, C.S.C.
Mar. 31, 2016

When we die we don’t go very far: our bodies go into the ground, and await the resurrection of the dead on the last day; our souls travel to the heavenly side of the communion of saints that union of faith and love which binds the living and the dead. There we dwell in another dimension whence the spirit of life comes and towards which we are all bound. The glue of this communion is the Risen Lord, the Jesus of human flesh and of human history, exalted and transformed. He remains the Christ, our brother, whom David Arthur took as the model and exemplar for his life and work.

We say that Father Dave is gone now. And we already feel his absence. There is his empty room, the empty chair in our sitting room, his place at table. More important, is his personal absence his spirit and conversation. All of this underlines the loss.

At the same time we sense his presence; through stories, memories, prayers and grieving, all movements of the heart. We experience our connection with him for we are all members of the communion of saints (if saint is understood as one loved by God).

When we die we don’t fall asleep; we wake up to new possibilities. We awaken to a new dawn when the dim lamp of this life can be extinguished. Death means a breakthrough to everlasting life and everlasting light. The darkness of death is left behind; death is finished. Jesus reigns. Dave Arthur has completed his passover from this life, through death, to the next. It is a journey prefigured in his Baptism so many years ago. In today’s second reading from the letter to the Romans, Saint Paul tells us that Baptism means dying and rising. The Funeral Mass reneacts the Baptism liturgy the Holy Water, the Paschal (Easter) candle, the pall that covers the casket and the theme of passover. We celebrate again David’s original Baptism as we recall his ardent faith and his following of Jesus.

He was a dedicated disciple, faithful and steady and true as God is towards us; our first reading reveals this and Iquote: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning, so great is your faithfulness.” As the Lord treated him, so David related to his God. He lived out the ongoing Baptism of imitating Christ as a professed religious and ordained priest.

In this life we miss a lot; we see through a glass darkly as Saint Paul says in ICorinthians. But on the other side of death, we see clearly in the light of the Resurrection. We are able to explore God’s heart where is etched every good deed of our lives …those we are aware of and those we are not. Much will be revealed to us throughout eternity.

Love lasts forever and every deed of love, every loving word, everyloving gesture has eternal value and is stored up by God for us to explore. Our brother Dave has begun this voyage of discovery.

When we die we relax in God’s embrace. During life we fuss and fidget, get distracted and even lose contact with God and thereby sin. But when we die, we unfurl in God’s presence, in his arms; we put our many burdens down and find true rest in him as our Gospel Reading today indicates: “come to me, all you who are heavy burdened”, beckons the Lord, “and Iwill give you rest.” When we die, we find rest at last.

And as we die we have the chance to summon up our life’s energies, and answer God’s final and penetrating question: do you love me?

Our answer will come from the depths and be a summation of our lives. We will all have the chance to say “yes” at the end. As did Father Dave whose life was a “yes” to God as a priest and religious.

He was a true and faithful minister who served college and Congregation well. He was committed to the religious life and its disciplines of prayer and brotherhood.

In closing, Iwould like to share one of Father Arthur’s favorite prayers. It comes from the Roman Missal and is said while the vessels are being purified. Dave loved the Mass and celebrated it with devotion. I had the privilege of joining him many-a-time. He would say this prayer aloud after Communion:

What has passed our lips as food, OLord,
May we possess in purity of heart,
That what has been given to us in time
May be our healing for eternity.

Amen. Amen.

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