2022-09-16 UNITED STATES

Br. Ernesto: “Brother Seán was a man of vision”

Words of Gratitude of Br. Ernesto Sánchez, Superior General, for the Life of Brother Seán Sammon

Words pronounced by Br. Ernesto Sánchez, Superior General, during the funeral of Br. Seán Sammon, September 16, in Poughkeepsie, USA, in the chapel of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom at Marist College, where Brother Seán lived during his last years.  Brother Seán Sammon passed away on September 9, 2022. He was 74 years old and had been a Marist religious for 55 years. Brother Seán was Superior General from 2001 to 2009, and Vicar General during the previous period.


It is a privilege for me to participate today here at Marist College in this beautiful ceremony of thanksgiving for the life of our Brother Seán Sammon.

Together mixed with the sadness we feel because of his physical absence, we also feel the joy of the gift of his person to our Marist congregation and to the Church.   

Thank you, Bro. Dan O’Riordan, and the Marist Province of the USA for your fraternal accompaniment of Br. Seán in these last months.  Thanks, Dan, for all the contacts we have had when Sean’s health was deteriorating and then when he passed away.

Thanks to all the brothers, family and friends present here today at this important moment. In a special way I want to thank Sean’s brother, Hank, and his sister, Moira and her family, for sharing Sean with us.

Thank you, Doctor Weinman (President of Marist College), Mr. Mauri (Chair of the Board), the members of the Board of Trustees and the leadership teams of Marist College for your support and care for Sean. It means a lot to his Marist family throughout the world.

I remember very well that autumn day in October 2001, at our General House in Rome, hearing the ringing of the bell and long rounds of applause from the Chapter Assembly announcing Brother Seán as the new Superior General at the service of the Institute of the Marist Brothers. He had already been serving the Institute for 8 years as Vicar General, with Bro. Benito Arbués, SG.

We could define Sean as a brother of great humanity and strong spirituality, both of which are the fruit of a life full of God and the Gospel.

So many of us remember his gestures of simplicity. Amid all his administrative tasks, Seán was a person of service who liked to prepare food, clean, decorate all in the service of his brothers in community… I remember when I was traveling back to my country, after the General Chapter, he asked me the day before at what time we were leaving, I told him very early (I think it was about 5:30 in the morning); there he was at the door of the Villa Eur hotel, to say goodbye to the small group of us who were leaving.  And what impressed me the most was that he took my bags and put them in the car himself….

Part of his simplicity of life was manifested in the way he always faced his own health situations.  We know that from the time he was Vicar General he suffered a major operation that left its mark on him for the rest of his life. He knew how to take care of himself, but I do not remember ever hearing him complain about his health, knowing that it was fragile and always at risk. 

We witnessed the closeness of our Brother Seán in Rome as well as during his visits to the various parts of the Institute.  I remember him on occasions meeting with the young people, showing great appreciation and dedication to them.  The same with the Brothers and lay people he met.  His closeness to the sick. His compassionate listening, his advice offered with wisdom and realism, his attention to each one, in a personal way. He was always attentive and he looked for ways to communicate, regardless of language difficulties. 

Since he invited me to serve on our Institute’s vocation animation and formation team, I had the privilege of being at the General House for six years during Brother Seán’s mandate as Superior General. I remember his continued support in that mission, which at times was not easy for me.  And, years later, when I was Provincial, then when I served on the previous General Council and now in these recent years as Superior General, I can share that Brother Seán has been for me a very important pillar of support and I know he will continue to be so. 

We also know his great sense of humor, even in complex or problematic situations, which allowed him to look at things with more objectivity and peace. 

His writings also clearly manifest his humanity and spirituality.  His first Circular, “A Revolution of the Heart”, expresses his great spiritual experience. Or “Marvelous Companions”, where he speaks of fraternity in a way that excites.  Or his love for the mission, expressed in “Making Jesus Christ Known and Loved”.  His love for Mary, “In her Arms or in her Heart”.  These writings, as well as his letters to the young brothers, to the older brothers, his writing on the vocation year, his letters or circulars motivating a General Conference or Chapter… all fostered hope and encouragement to live our Marist life to the full.

Brother Seán was a man of vision.  During his mandate, he accompanied the process of change and restructuring of many Provinces. He favored co-responsibility, relationships, internationality… I remember the regional meetings he held on all the continents.  And we know of the Mission Ad Gentes project, bringing the Marist presence to various countries of Asia. Today, that project has become the Marist District of Asia, comprised of 5 countries with 20 young native brothers. The renovation of our Mother house, N.D. of Hermitage, in France.

Seán also shared his gifts and vision with other religious congregations and with the wider Church. I have received many messages from people from other Congregations offering their condolences and telling of the good received from him. 

I would like to conclude by sharing one other thought:  His love for Mary, Our Good Mother, which was always evident and motivating. He expressed it in his last Circular, in the Marian feasts he celebrated, and above all in his attitudes towards God and all those he met.  He liked to offer as a gift to the various provinces he visited, the image of the Good Mother, in wood, so many times painted and detailed by himself.

Today, along with the sadness of losing our brother, we are filled with joy and gratitude for the gift of his life and vocation.  Seán will continue to be present among us, with his Novices whom he accompanied in recent months, with his brothers of the Province of the USA, with so many young people with whom he lived at Marist College, and with so many Marists of Champagnat throughout the world who have benefited from having met him and been inspired by him.

We know that he is in the hands of our Good Mother, eternally enjoying the tenderness and compassion of the God he so fervently loved.  May his life and example continue to motivate us to live our Christian and Marist life with passion, in our families and communities. 

Thank you.


Br. Ernesto Sánchez, Superior General

New York, 16 September 2022


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