An early Marist imprint on me influenced my choice to support Marists for the rest of my life
My relationship with the Marists began in 1936, when I entered the Marist seminary, called Maryvale, in Bedford, MA. That was where I went to high school and did a half-year of college before moving on to a life where a career in diplomatic service awaited me, and much more.
I credit my parents for giving me a solid foundation in religious devotion. We all worshipped at Sacred Heart Church in Lawrence, MA, then run by the Marists. My cousin Vernon, who was to become a Marist priest, went to the seminary, and on his recommendation, I joined him. It proved to be a beneficial decision on my part.
Life in the seminary was challenging, but enjoyable. It was there where I learned valuable skills in self-discipline, tenacity, and sharing with other people. I became close to the Marists there, and many of my fellow students who went on to become Marists.
When I was drafted into the military I recognized soon that the discipline imposed in the Army was nothing compared to that to which I had become accustomed in the Marist seminary. Simply put, I was fully prepared for anything the Army had to throw at me.
My entering the state department involved a series of attempts requiring tremendous tenacity. Suffice to say, after more than one attempt, and drawing on the stick-to-it-iveness instilled in me by my parents and the Marists, I landed a job in Washington for two months, after which I embarked on a career that, all told, would have me living in eight different countries. My work abroad began as an administrative assistant in Dakar, and ended with the position of administrative officer in Beijing, China, before I moved back to Washington and served on the State Department's Board of Examiners. I married in 1959 at the age of 39 and enjoyed a wonderful marriage with Mary Jane until she went to God in 1998.
I have been doubly-blessed with a terrific Chapter Two, thanks to my wonderful wife, Mary Kay, whom I married in 1999. I have kept busy in my retirement working for a bank for four years and then ultimately as a career counselor at The American Graduate School of International Management, known as "Thunderbird."
Mary Kay and I enjoy these days, near her children. As part of our devotion to Our Lady, we have built a Grotto to honor her. It is near a walking track so she gets visitors every so often. We see some making the Sign of the Cross as they walk by. We enjoy looking out of windows and seeing her there.
On reflection, the relationship I have had with the Marists over the years, which has benefited me in my private life and in my work with the Foreign Service, was so valuable that I wanted to make a fitting gesture of appreciation. Mary Kay and I have each taken out charitable gift annuities with the Marists, representing a considerable sum of our estate. This gift to the Marists has been giving back to us ever since, and was a good investment for the tax benefits and income it has provided to us. I will always be grateful for the training and friendship I have had with the Marists, and will always appreciate their way of serving God in the way of Mary. We encourage anyone who is thinking about donating to do so now when the need is so great.
"When I was drafted
into the military
I recognized soon
that the discipline
imposed in the Army
was nothing compared
to that to which I
had become accustomed
in the Marist seminary.
Simply put, I was
fully prepared for
anything the Army
had to throw at me."
Jerry Levesque, Marist Donor
Marists in Mission
Ministering in the
In 1986 Marists arrived in Brownsville, and in 1996 they took on San Felipe de Jesús, a parish in the U.S.-Mexican border town of Brownsville. While this was a developed neighborhood, not a single road was paved. There was no mail delivery or school bus service. There were no streetlights, sidewalks or parks. There was no police protection.
Since that time, the Marists at San Felipe de Jesús have worked with the people in this community to claim a more inclusive piece of the basic American experience.