He may have retired from teaching in the classroom three years ago, but Christian Brother Amedy Esquibeo continues to interact with the students at Christian Brothers School in City Park.
Every morning, the 85-year-old monitors the front of the school as parents drop off their boys, and on pizza days Brother Amedy collects the money from students.
“I came in 1962,” he said. “This year is 50 years for me being here.”
His long presence at the school is admired.
“He would do anything for anybody,” bookkeeper Sandy Dischner said.
Brother Amedy grew up near Sante Fe, N.M., in a little town called Tierra Amarillo. His family descended from Spain; his grandfather came to the United States with a land grant.
He was one of nine children and remembers speaking Spanish before he spoke English, even though both languages were spoken in a home where the Catholic faith was cherished.
“My mother was very influential in our faith,” Brother Amedy said. “She taught us to pray, taught us the catechism and told us what was right and wrong.”
He also had family members before him who joined religious life. He said five cousins and an aunt became nuns, and his father’s nephew, Brother George Esquibeo, was a Christian Brother.
All in the family
It was Brother George, who taught at the Catholic high school that Brother Amedy attended in Sante Fe, who had an impact on him joining the Christian Brothers. Brother Amedy said he often talked to Brother George about his religious vocation.
“I liked the brothers who taught me, and Brother George had a big influence on me,” Brother Amedy said. “Of course, the service of God entered into it, but I had all the influence of the religious in my family.”
Brother Amedy said he took vows as a Christian Brother in the late 1950s and first taught in New Mexico. He was then assigned to Louisiana where he was a teacher in New Iberia and Franklin, followed by a stint in El Paso, Texas, before permanently moving to Christian Brothers School in New Orleans in 1962.
From Brother George he also learned woodworking, something he continued while working at Christian Brothers in New Orleans.
“When you walk around the school, you’ll still see things I built here when I first came,” Brother Amedy said.
He has mainly taught Spanish, history and math at Christian Brothers School and said it was his loss of hearing and his back that contributed to his decision to retire.
“I prefer to walk around when I teach, and it became difficult for me,” he said.
Brother Amedy estimates that he’s taught thousands over the years and continues to see generations of students he knew from Christian Brothers. He strove to be a role model to his students.
Providing the model
“I think I’ve influenced them in being a better person,” he said. “I tried to interact with them and talk to them and correct them when they started being selfish. I wanted them to be honest, and I was honest with them.”
Seventh grader Chris Szeszycki had Brother Amedy in fifth-grade Spanish and said he taught him well, recalling the basic Spanish words for colors and numbers. He also remembered reciting prayers that were different than the Our Father and Hail Mary.
Brother Amedy said New Orleans has been a wonderful city to call home. He called the people welcoming and friendly and “they are not even relatives.”
“Over here, I’ve made many friends who are loyal and generous,” he said.
He currently lives upstairs in the main building of the school with four other Christian Brothers – Brother Thomas Canty, Brother Laurence Konersmann, Brother John Mai and Brother John LaRose.
Having Brother Amedy visible at the school is invaluable to students, Christian Brothers School principal/president Joey Scaffidi said.
“He represents all that is good in being a (Christian) brother: serving the people first; serving the children first; the importance of giving full attention to your duties in the classroom (and now outside the classroom),” Scaffidi said.
Christine Bordelon can be reached at cbordelon@clarion herald.org.