Faith Matters: Brother Terence's service to all God's children : Memphis Commercial Appeal Faith Matters: Brother Terence's service to allGod's children Original y published 12:05 a.m., November 9, 2013 Updated 12:10 a.m., November 9, 2013 The railroad tracks that brought Terence McLaughlin to Memphis in 1949 stil form thenorthern border of Christian Brothers University, where he wil be honored today forhis more than seven decades of service as a Christian, a Brother and a pioneeringeducator.
“This building was under construction the day I got to Memphis. I saw it from the trainand wondered if this was the campus,” Brother Terence said as he sat in a wood-paneled board room in Barry Hal , named for the businessman who helped the col egeacquire its property on East Parkway in 1940.
That’s the same year Brother Terence entered the order of De La Sal e ChristianBrothers. Their mission for nearly 400 years has been “to provide a human andChristian education to the young, especial y the poor, according to the ministryentrusted to them by the church.” Barry Hal , CBU’s administration building, opened in 1950, a year after BrotherTerence arrived on the L&N Railroad, entrusted with teaching religion and ethics tothe al -white student body at Christian Brothers Col ege.
“It was my first experience with segregation,” said Brother Terence, who grew up inDuluth, Minn., the son of a Scottish father and an Irish mother. “But we never spoke ofit. There were just two sets of people living in the same space but in completelydifferent worlds. I don’t know why we didn’t talk about it. It was just the way it was.” That wasn’t the way it was in 1962, when Brother Terence — who’d left in 1953 toteach elsewhere — returned to Barry Hal as the new president of Christian Brothers.
That was the same year Al egra Turner fil ed out an application for her son, JesseTurner Jr., an African-American student at St. Augustine School, to enrol at ChristianBrothers High School the fol owing year.
Turner’s enrol ment would make Christian Brothers the first integrated high school inMemphis.
“I saw no problem whatsoever,” said Brother Terence, who had worked at a Chicagoschool in the 1940s, under Cardinal Stritch, a former Memphis priest who urged al of Faith Matters: Brother Terence's service to all God's children : Memphis Commercial Appeal his principals to open their doors to any black student who applied. “That was in the’40s, and here it was the ’60s. I figured we were past al that.” We weren’t. Brother Terence accepted Turner’s application for the fal of 1963.
Meanwhile, Bishop Wil iam Adrian, whose office was in Nashvil e, announced that alCatholic schools in the state would begin integrating that fal , but only grades 1-4.
High schools would have to wait a few years.
Brother Terence told the bishop the good news: He didn’t have to wait. “I thought Iwas throwing a key block for him, helping him out by letting him know that our schoolwas already being integrated,” Brother Terence said. “I was shocked by hisresponse.” On May 22, 1963, Bishop Adrian wrote a letter to Brother Terence: “It seemsunfortunate that you should have taken this step to register a negro student for yourhigh school without first consulting the Diocesean superintendent of our Catholicschools. This can be a cause for much trouble.” The bishop, who signed the letter “Yours in Christ,” said he would submit the matter toSupt. El iott. Three days later, Brother Terence got a handwritten letter from El iott. “Itwould be contrary to the plan adopted by the Bishop,” he wrote, “for CBHS to accepta colored student at this time.” He signed the letter “Sincerely yours in Christ.” CBHS, though in Christ, was not technical y in the diocese. The Turners were noteasily turned away, and Brother Terence declined to do so. The bishop relented.
Jesse Turner Jr. entered CBHS on Aug. 22, 1963, two days before Dr. Martin LutherKing Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington.
“He paid a price for it. He was pressured out of Memphis because of it,” saidMonsignor Val Handwerker, a CBHS student at the time. “But he’s a humble man, atrue Christian Brother, and he’s been a real model to me.” Brother Terence said he believes Bishop Adrian was just trying to avoid trouble.
“The bishop saw the Turners as people threatening to use their NAACP clout,” hesaid. “I saw a Catholic family trying to get their son to a good school like anyone else.
At first it was just an administrive issue, but it became a moral one for me.” Education always has been a moral and a biblical issue for the Christian Brothers,founded by St. John Baptist de la Sal e, a 17th century French priest and educationreformer, now also known as the patron saint of teachers.
“De la Sal e established the first schools for the poor, the first Catholic schools,”Brother Terence said. “He taught the Brothers to see al children as children of God.” Brother Terence, who returned to Memphis a third time in 2000, is proud of how farCBU has come in the past 40 years in educating al God’s children. A third of thestudent body is African-American, and first-generation. About 40 percent of thestudents on campus are eligible for Pel grants. Faith Matters: Brother Terence's service to all God's children : Memphis Commercial Appeal “Brother Terence is a pioneer in our efforts to diversify the campus,” said Dr. JohnSmarrel i, CBU’s president. “We wouldn’t be where we are today without his courageand compassion.” These days, Brother Terence spends much of his time working with Lasal ianVolunteers, recent col ege graduates who come to Memphis to spend a year or twoworking at De La Sal e Blessed Sacrament Elementary, a Jubilee school inBinghamton.
This school year’s three volunteers al live on campus and have dinner with theBrothers. They read to the kids at De La Sal e, eat lunch with them, help them withtheir homework. They also provide art, music and computer classes for them.
“They bring an energy, a passion for service, that is essential for what we’re trying todo for the children,” said principal Daniel Salvaggio, who himself was a Lasal ianVolunteer.
The Lasal ian program pays the Volunteers a smal stipend. The Brothers offer thema chance to earn a tuition-free master’s degree for their service. They also get thebenefit of Brother Terence’s 92 years of life experience.
“I’m getting up there,” said the lanky 6-foot-2 Brother, who seems to be getting tal er,people tel him, as he grows older. But he wasn’t talking about his height.
“I had hoped to live long enough to see al of God’s children getting the educationthey need and deserve. That hasn’t happened yet.
“We no longer have a two-school system in Memphis, by law, but our schools stilremain segregated by race, by neighborhood, by choice. That’s our choice, not God’schoice.” WHO: Brother Terence McLaughlin, CBU president form 1962-1964.
WHAT: He wil be honored with the Bishop Carrol T. Dozier Award for Peace andJustice, named for the first bishop of the Diocese of Memphis.
2013 Scripps New spaper Group — Online


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