This is a small tribute to my recently-deceased superior, mentor, father, and friend, Brother Francis. As our Byzantine brethren say, “May his memory live in eternity!”
Brother Francis was born, in the town of Mashrah, Lebanon, about thirty miles from Beirut, in 1913. His given name was Fakhri Boutros Maluf. The Maluf family is descended from the ancient Ghassanids, Christian and Catholic Arabs who courageously kept the Faith in the face of Moslem aggression.
Though poor, Fakhri’s family saw to his education, which was provided at home, in a small school that his father operated. In 1934, Fakhri graduated from the American University of Beirut with a Bachelor’s Degree in mathematics. From 1934 to 1939, he taught physics at that same University.
In 1939, he moved to the United States to attend the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he received first an M.A. and, in 1942, a Ph.D. in philosophy. After receiving his Ph.D., he continued post-graduate studies at Harvard University and Saint Bonaventure University.
In addition to his academic career, Dr. Maluf’s first decade in America was filled with great religious activity. On the Feast of St. Andrew (Nov. 30) in 1940, he became a Catholic. (Although he came from an historic Catholic family, his father had become a Mason and raised the children with no religion.) Two years later, he met Father Leonard Feeney, chaplain of Saint Benedict Center. In 1949, Dr. Maluf and two other professors at Boston College were dismissed from the faculty after charging the College, in a letter to Pope Pius XII and the Superior General of the Jesuit Order, with promoting the liberal doctrine of salvation outside the Church. That same year, Dr. Maluf became one of the pioneer members of Father Feeney’s religious Order, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, eventually taking the vows of religion and the name Brother Francis, after Saint Francis Xavier.
Since that time, Brother Francis continued to teach Sacred Scripture, philosophy, theology, science and mathematics at various levels. For many years he was the Superior of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary monastery in Richmond, New Hampshire. While in his 90s, he continued to give weekly lectures on various topics, teach high school, head the Saint Augustine Institute of Catholic Studies, and oversee the publishing apostolate of Saint Benedict Center.
On July 19, 2009, Brother Francis marked his 96th birthday. On September 5 of that year — a first Saturday — Brother went to his reward.
Although our Order is of the Roman Rite of the Catholic Church, Brother Francis was a Melkite Rite (Byzantine) Catholic.
Please read Brother Francis’ Obituary and the Ad Rem, The Funeral of Brother Francis, in Thoughts and Pictures.