Goodness makes no noise*. His smile did the talking!
Fr. Brandenburger had a smile that could… and did… light up a room. It was a welcoming smile that came from someplace deep within him. It was frequently accompanied by a welcoming, “Hi! How ya doin’?”
After 98 years, that smile has gone home to God, who smiles on him. But it is a smile that is still fondly remembered by the people he served in Colon. And he left Panama more than 35 years ago! As soon as word of his death circulated on an email list of people related to our mission in Panama, the website of the Province lit up. His “vocation story” quickly became one of our most visited pages.
A year ago I reprinted his 2004 vocation story on the Eastern Province web site. Naturally, I gave him a copy. The next time I saw him he asked, “Who wrote that?” I said, “You did in 2004!” “No way! You’re kidding me!”
Our custom at wake services is to share memories. One stands out in my mind. This is the story about a barber who comes to the Provincial House every few weeks to cut hair. A confrere shared… “He was cutting my hair and I mentioned Fr. Brandenburger had died. He stopped cutting… He became very quiet and sat down… Finally, after composing himself, he said: “He was a man!” What a tribute to a man he saw for a few minutes every month!
I could not help thinking about words I have associated with Vincent. “Let love light up my mortal frame, ’til others catch the living flame.”
He truly lived as the living flame, sharing his warmth with others. When you were with him you knew you were in the presence of “good news.” He understood and lived the mission of the Eastern Province. We thank him for showing all of us associated with the Eastern Province what it means to BE “good news.”
*M. Vincent recommended that we perform our actions silently, noiselessly, and without any commotion or agitation (CCD:XI:113).