Bro. Gerald Warner SDB
Bro. Gerald Warner, SDB (1931-2018)
A native of Fargo, N.D., Gerald Emmanuel Warner was born on Christmas Day, Dec. 25, 1931. He died peacefully in his sleep at United Hebrew Nursing Home in New Rochelle, N.Y., 86 years later, on April 2, 2018, having just celebrated Easter Sunday. He spent the majority of his years in the service of the Lord with the Salesians of Don Bosco. His was an eclectic personality, with a country-Western style that included boots, big hats, colorful clothing and a unique collection of Western novelty items. Never lacking for words, he could strike up a conversation with anyone he met, making them feel at ease. He had a deep relationship with the Lord and shared his faith with everyone he met.
Gerald attended school as a youth in Lisbon, N.D. He served two years in the U.S. Army. Aided by the G.I. Bill, he attended college, earning a bachelor’s degree in education from Minnesota State University at Moorhead in 1956. During the last few years of college, he attended daily Mass and felt the Holy Spirit was calling him to religious life to work with young people, especially the poor.
Gerald entered the Salesians of Don Bosco in September 1956, originally thinking he would become a priest. Realizing priesthood required six more years of college study, he opted to go to work right away by becoming a religious brother. He made his first vows on Sept. 8, 1959 at Don Bosco Seminary in Newton, N.J. He went to work as a teacher, holding posts at Salesian schools in the Boston, Los Angeles and New York areas between 1959 and 1969. He earned a master’s degree in education from Boston College in 1966.
In 1969, Bro. Gerald was given a challenge. He founded the Salesian Inner City Boys Club in Columbus, Ohio, serving young men who were poor. At a time when institutions struggled with integration, Bro. Gerald opened the doors to any young man, regardless of his race. As the years passed, the work blossomed to become the Salesian Boys & Girls Club of Columbus, one of the largest of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
In 1979, he was appointed the treasurer of the Salesians in the eastern U.S.A., a position he held for six years. When his term ended in 1985, Bro. Gerald became the executive director of the Salesian Boys & Girls Club of East Boston, and then returned to Columbus as executive director from 1986 to 1989.
Bro. Gerald became a teacher again in 1989 at Don Bosco Preparatory High School in Ramsey, N.J., where he remained for nine years. He participated in and led programs in spirituality at the Santa Fe Institute for Spirituality in New Mexico in 1995-1996. He returned again to Columbus from 1998 to 2000, working with the staff of the club he had founded. In 2000, Bro. Gerald was appointed to assist the novices at St. Joseph’s Novitiate, at Mary Help of Christians Church in New York City, where he remained for seven years.
In 2007, he joined the staff of Salesian Missions in New Rochelle. He enjoyed a vibrant correspondence with men and women in prison, offering them support and prayers through his writings. But he suffered a stroke on Dec. 9, 2011, from which he never fully recovered. He spent his last six-plus years in residence at United Hebrew Nursing Home where the Salesians visited him daily.
His remains will be received on Thursday, April 5, at 2:00 p.m. in the chapel of Salesian High School, 148 Main Street, New Rochelle, N.Y. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 7:00 p.m. Burial will follow on Friday, April 6, at 10:00 a.m. at the Salesian Cemetery at 3 Craigville Road in Goshen, N.Y.