Learn more: To help Brother Robert Juenemann, SM, and the Marianist ministries, please contact Brother Robert at 408.605.1017 or [email protected] marianist.com/donate • 9 o understand the ministry of Marianist Brother Robert Juenemann is an invitation to step back in time — an opportunity to meet a generation of small ranchers and business owners who lived through the hardscrabble years of the Great Depression. Their children went to Marianist schools, some now closed, located throughout California. During these financially difficult times, the Marianists worked especially hard to provide schooling and find jobs for these students, putting in a good word here, opening a door there, wherever they could. “I’ve called on many alumni from that generation,” says Brother Robert, who has been working in fundraising for more than 60 years. “Those brothers made a strong impression on these families.” The same was true in Hawaii. Marianist Brother Jim Whitfield, head of the business department at Saint Louis School during the Depression, brought graduates look- ing for their first jobs to downtown Honolulu to meet with business people. “Brother Jim didn’t just inspire these students,” says Brother Robert. “He introduced them to business owners looking for good employees. These alumni became pillars of the Honolulu com- munity — and they never forgot.” Touched in a deeply personal way, alumni and their families responded with kindness. Others, too, stepped forward to offer assistance. “They helped us through some very difficult times and in a thousand ways,” says Brother Robert. “I can’t thank them enough.” One door opens another Brother Robert was born in Los Angeles in the aftermath of the Depression. His father worked in the family’s pickle and sauerkraut business and later, before WWII, in a steel mill. “He worked hard,” says Brother Robert, who grew up in a household with a younger brother and three sisters. During his high school years, Brother Robert began considering religious life. In 1955, at age 20, he professed first vows in the Society of Mary. He entered as a working brother and was assigned to work on a chicken farm run by the order. Shortly after, he began soliciting food from local farmers to feed the novices. “I met so many good, generous people,” Brother Robert recalls. In the 1960s, a period during which the order struggled financially, Brother Robert began working in development for the former Marianist Pacific Province. “We hired a consulting firm, and they suggested that we put together a lay board comprised of working professionals and business people to guide us.” The lay board proved invaluable. “Some people’s greatest gifts to us have been their time and expertise,” he says. Today, Brother Robert looks with amazement at the ways, big and small, that people have contributed. Many have offered tuition assistance for students, providing them a Marianist education. Some donated funds to purchase property in Cupertino so the Marianists could build provincial offices, a novitiate and a healthcare center for aging brothers and priests. Others showed up in more practical ways: “They hauled drywall, lumber and other materials for the Marianist building projects in Santa Cruz and Cupertino,” says Brother Robert. Using these donated materials, Marianist working brothers — with help from alumni in the trades — constructed buildings noted for their craftsmanship and beauty. “They also stored equip- ment and secured building permits and work crews,” says Brother Robert. “The list goes on and on.” Marianist education and ministries are different today. “Years ago, we provided education for boys only, but now we have co-ed Marianist- sponsored schools,” says Brother Robert. “So girls are part of our focus, too. This is also true in India and Africa where our primary ministries help women and children through education and job-training programs.” There are many creative ways people can better the lives of others through Marianist works. “Generous friends have brought me gifts in the form of charitable remainder trusts, wills and annuities,” says Brother Robert. But he doesn’t count anyone out. “When I call on people, some don’t have the financial resources to give at the time, but they sometimes help in other ways, for example, by providing names of people who might want to help,” says Brother Robert. “This is how doors are opened. It’s one of the most helpful things anyone can do.” Brother Robert is grateful that the Marianists allow him do this work. “I have met so many wonderful people. Everyone I have called on has had more experience, education, power and money than me. They all have been wonderful mentors. Thank you.” ■ ALL PHOTOS: DEBORAH HAYES Brother Robert Juenemann, SM, enjoys a moment of quiet reflection. T