Marist educator extraordinaire

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Dedicated former teacher says his time in the Notre Dame classroom was ‘amazing.’

Fr. Ron DesRosiers, s.m., is currently assigned to St. Louis, King of France, a Marist-run parish in Saint Paul, Minnesota. It’s the most recent stop in a career that has had many. 

Over the years, he’s taught school at Harper Woods Notre Dame, St. Bede’s College in New Zealand and Cours Sainte Marie de Hann in Senegal, among others. He also spent some time in Antarctica. His most recent teaching gig was as an assistant professor of philosophy and ethics at Madonna University in Livonia from where he finally retired in 2013 after 50 years in the classroom.

He had been assisting at the St. Louis parish off and on over the years when needed, mostly during the summer months. But when he retired from teaching, his Marist superiors, naturally, thought it was time to go full-time at the parish.

“Amen, said I, and I’ve been here ever since, helping with masses and confessions,” said DesRosiers, who noted that the parish is a very busy downtown church with 16 masses, countless weddings and funerals and 14 sessions of confessions each week.

He no doubt is busier than most retirees, but unlike perhaps most retirees, he loved — and loves — his job. 

It was the Sisters

“I began thinking about becoming a priest in the 5th grade because one of my teachers, a Sister of Saint Joseph, said I’d be a good one,” DesRosiers said. “I thought it’d be a great adventure. Actually, it’s turned out to be even better.”

Growing up in Framingham, Mass., about 20 miles west of Boston, DesRosiers was aware certainly that the Marists ran a seminary in his hometown. He said he ultimately decided to join the order as a priest because he was most familiar with them and more importantly, he said, they were the ones who kept his family’s parish alive when it was failing.

After his ordination, DesRosiers, who speaks fluent French, was assigned initially in 1963 to Notre Dame in Harper Woods, where he taught French and Latin ultimately for about 20 years over three different stints — the last of which ended in 1990. 

Most animated

DesRosiers used the word “amazing” to best describe his tenure at NDHS, and he remembers well what it was like to face a large group of high school students right after leaving school himself.

“When I first started teaching at Notre Dame, I was only about 10 years older than my senior French students. I was petrified! Nonetheless, it all worked out for the best.” 

Dwight Cendrowski, a 1970 NDHS alum, loved taking classes with DesRosiers, who had a huge reputation for in-classroom hijinks.

“One of my favorite teachers was Fr. DesRosiers,” said Cendrowski, who is a professional photographer based in Ann Arbor. “I took Latin from him and he was one of the funniest and most animated teachers I’ve ever had. He later officiated at my brother Mark’s wedding, which was 25 years ago.”

Lifelong learning

Like Cendrowski, DesRosiers also fondly remembers his Latin classes at Notre Dame.

“One of the mnemonics I utilized back then to help the kids remember Latin preposition and case usage was, ‘Put the ablative with de, cum and coram, ab and e; in and sub with the ablative case tell about a resting place.’” 

He said that one of his former Latin students at NDHS who he had lost touch with over the years recently reconnected with him. 

“He was a deacon in the Archdiocese of Detroit and when we crossed paths in a local sacristy, even before saying hello, he broke into a wide smile,” DesRosiers said. “Just like a cheerleader, the alum said ‘Put the ablative with de, . . .’ and he recited the whole thing flawlessly! Talk about lifelong learning.”

Another of DesRosiers favorite memories of NDHS was “le vrai dîner français,” prepared every year by a team of his 4th-year French students. 

“Cooked in the cafeteria kitchen and served in the faculty dining room to others in the class, it was the highlight of each year of French,” he said. “I also remember the time I had to shave my beard completely off in front of the entire student body — but that’s another story for another lifetime.”

If DesRosier’s next “lifetime” is as fulfilling and entertaining as the one he’s living now, a couple of new generations of students will most “certainement profiter et bénéficier.”


Comments or questions? mkelly@ndpma.org.
 
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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. The school's upper division enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower divisions enroll students in jr. kindergarten through grade eight. All three divisions are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school's home page at www.ndpma.org.

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