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Patriotic Holy Cross Brother Courtney dies

Robert Singer | Monday, March 23, 2009

Brother Edward Vincent Courtney, who was a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross for more than five decades, died last Monday in the Dujarie House at Notre Dame. He was 90 years old.

Courtney, a veteran of World War II, entered St. Joseph Novitiate in Rolling Prairie, Ind. to begin his religious training following the war. He made his first vows as Holy Cross brother on Aug. 16, 1947 and three years later, made his final vows at Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Holy Cross Brother Robert Fillmore, provincial of the Midwest Province, told The Observer that Courtney’s experiences in World War II motivated him toward a religious vocation and a lifetime of patriotism.

“After the war, he made this decision, which was very common for WWII veterans,” Fillmore said. “They joined because they saw life in a very different way, and they thought about life in a very different way. When you see death and tragedy you think about things very differently.”

Courtney would retain this perspective for the rest of life. For years, he greeted drivers along Indiana 933 from his lawn chair near Holy Cross College, Tribune reported. Motorists honked and waved as he sat by his display of American flags.

Courtney not only wanted to remind people of the sacrifices made by servicemen and women overseas, but he also wanted to protect a symbol that was sacred to him.

Courtney supported a constitutional amendment to protect the flag from desecration, Fillmore said.

One of seven children, Courtney was born on May 2, 1918 in Portland, Ore. Courtney worked with the Southern Pacific Railroad for a year after high school, and in 1941, he joined the army, serving in five campaigns in North Africa and Europe until his discharge in 1956, the Tribune reported.

“We’re very proud of what Brother Edward accomplished through his patriotism,” Fillmore said. “As brothers, we’re very proud of that.”

Fillmore said one of Courtney’s assignments as a brother was to sell subscriptions to Ave Maria magazine across the Midwest. Later in his life, he worked on the staff of Columba Hall as a mailman and commissioner, and then moved to Dujarie House until his death.

A funeral Mass for Courtney took place Saturday at St. Joseph’s Chapel.