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We called him Bert,
the local crew of confreres,
to bring him back to life for real
after weeks of adulation
and pampering from Christian Mothers
who whispered with reverence
his name in full:
Father Bertin Roll,
the national director
of the Archconfraternity of Christian Mothers.

If Bert were a salesman,
he would have carried
top honors every month.
He recorded 3000 miles in driving
each month,
addressing parish women’s groups,
convincing them of the spiritual benefits
of the Christian Mothers Archconfraternity,
the mothers praying for one another,
and always for the children, and often,
determined that prayer and example
would imprint what God was making available.

That was Bert’s world
for 60 years and a little more,
forever living at St. Augustine Friary
in Pittsburgh,
and then he parked his car,
knelt back,
and prepared the books for the Lord’s audit.
His birthday rang in the 90s,
on to 98,
the oldest age achieved
by a friar of the province,
with loyalty and perseverance
and eager devotion
to the Capuchin Order and the Church.

Bertin had no need to give up wealth
in making consecrated life his choice,
but he was obliged to turn his back
on a chance to make the big leagues
in baseball.

All life long he followed each game
with the zeal of a coach,
including ones out West,
which often dragged past bedtime,
yet Bert was there for morning prayer.
Of all his athletic accomplishments,
the one he indulged was golf,
with clubs kept handy as he traveled,
and Bert could claim a pro’s score
for most of his golfing years.

Unrecorded and unofficial,
the best of Bert
was his daily compassion:
a pleasant 'how are you feeling'
for a confrere
just come home from hospital;
'what are you working on?,'
to a student friar;
and a casual
'you look nice and happy today,'
to a woman visiting the friary;
and always a word of interest,
or a story,
about a priest he met on his travels,
as he mooched a place to sleep
from rectories across the country.

The good of people
was Bert’s main hobby
and constant exercise. 

January 6, 2015
Bonaventure Stefun, OFM Cap.

See more reflections here.


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Capuchin Friars  ♦  Province of St. Augustine  ♦  220—37th Street  ♦  Pittsburgh, PA 15201  ♦  (412) 682-6011