Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. - Who Shaves The Barber?Monday, July 26, 2010
Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C.
Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. grew up in New Orleans and is a graduate of Holy Cross School. He has a bachelor’s degree from St. Edward’s University in Austin and a master’s degree in music education from Vander Cook College in Chicago. He served in the faculty of Thomas Aquinas School in Brooklyn, St. Edward’s High School and University in Austin, as well as Holy Cross School in New Orleans. He was the first graduate of Holy Cross in New Orleans to serve as its Headmaster. He was the director of the South West Province Vocation Committee and the Regional Director for the Families of Prayer Program. He lives as St. Joseph’s Hall at St. Edward’s University and serves as Program Director for Auxiliary services at the University.
And he also taught me religion and forcefully encouraged me to learn to play the alto saxophone and join the St. Edward’s High School band in the late 50s. Brother Edwin was one of two brothers (the other was Brother Anton Mattingly) who owned a single lens reflex camera and propelled me into my interest in photography.
On a day I will never forget he arrived to our religion class with a pitcher of water and two glasses, a small one and a big one. He proceeded to fill both until they were full to the brim. He then asked us, “Which of the glasses is fuller?” Since we were silly teenagers we immediately told him that the largest glass was the one which was the fullest. Brother Edwin then began to pour water into both glasses and the water overflowed. He told us that both glasses regardless of capacity could not take any more water. He explained that the water glasses explained our human capacity for happiness. “Some of us,” he said had the capacity for more happiness but when completely happy we would not be any happier than those with a smaller storage.” “In fact,” he went on to say, “those with a greater capacity are often those who are most unhappy. We should not look down on the simple folk who are happy with little.”
Rebecca and I upon Arriving at Austin’s Bergstrom Airport were on the lookout for a silver Toyota Matrix. I had iPhoned Brother Edwin as soon as we had secured our luggage. As soon as he did arrive I was instantly struck by his easy smile and comfortable contentment. Not once in our three-day stay did Brother Edwin make a negative statement or did he complain about anything or did he criticize anybody else. He performed his duties as deacon (this duty seems to be shared by other brothers) during Matins and Vespers (Brother Edwin simply called these twice a day prayer meetings, just that, prayer meetings) with humility and grace.
Any time I approached him with the idea that I was going to give him something he was plain and direct in telling me he had everything he needed and each day those needs were lessened.
|Brother Edwin does Brother Donald Dufour|
A year before (in June 2009) I had followed Brother Edwin in his day’s tasks. I had come to the conclusion that this man was no different than Phileas Fogg. There are clocks all over St. Joseph’s Hall. Because the old bell at St Ed’s Main Hall tower was deemed to be in a precarious situation an electronic bell sound was installed at St. Joseph’s which marks the hour and the half hour all day. Any one of the clocks at St. Joseph’s or one's own watch will immediately indicate precisely where Brother Edwin is.
Whenever he enters the hall and passes by the brother’s den/living room squirrels rustle up to the window. They know that Brother Edwin will feed them. Perhaps only the squirrels manage to interfere with Brother Edwin's precise schedule.
In spite of his heavy work schedule Brother Edwin finds time to make his sculptures from found wood. In the picture here he poses in St. Joseph’s Hall chapel with his latest, a crucifix that will hang at a nearby institution.
Not far from the door that Brother Edwin uses to enter the hall’s garden to feed the squirrels there is a room with a barber’s chair. I had seen it last year and I had enquired why it was there. He had told me that he was the official barber. This time around (it was Saturday) he was going to cut the hair of a few brothers. I immediately asked him if I could take some pictures. One of Brother Edwin’s customers was the wonderfully funny and most pleasant Brother Donald Dufour with whom I compared notes (over breakfast) on the Jesuit Priest Pierre Teilhard the Chardin’s attempt to reconcile evolution with Catholic Church Doctrine.
I was taking pictures using my Nikon FM-2 and b+w film (the picture you see here is an iPhone one. I am a bit jet-lagged and probably lazy to go down to my darkroom to process all the exposed film I shot) when Brother Edwin asked me if I wanted a “trim”. I said, “Yes,” on a lark. It is not often that one’s religion teacher and mentor can also be one’s barber, fifty years later! Rebecca took pictures with her digital camera. The trim was more than a trim and I was uncertain if the cut was a good one. But, I am happy to report that Rebecca’s father upon picking us up at the airport asked me if I had lost weight. I told him it was my haircut.
After my session Rebecca asked me who cut Brother Edwin’s hair. She had noticed that not only did Brother Edwin have a nice cut but that he also combed it back with some sort of brilliantine or spray. I asked Brother Edwin, “Who shaves the barber?” and he answered, “A brother over at Brother Vincent Pieau Residence.”
Rebecca was always delighted in Brother Edwin’s presence. She is particularly fond of Brother Edwin’s never lost New Orleans accent. I find it amazing and I am most grateful that there is yet someone else who will have profited from contact with Brother Edwin Reggio, C.S.C. That that person is my granddaughter it is that much more special.