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‘Brother, Where Is Your Coat?’

GUEST COLUMN

By Robert D. Courtney | February 2009
Richard D. Courtney, who writes from Muncie, Indiana, is the author of Normandy to the Bulge: An American Infantry G.I. in Europe During World War II (Southern Illinois University Press, 1997).

When I about five years old in 1930, my Dad’s cousin, Brother Aloysius Gilmartin, would come down on the train to Altoona, Pennsylvania, from St. Francis College in Loretto to visit us. He would get off the train and walk half a block to Westfall’s Men’s Store where Dad worked. Dad would usually bring him home for lunch. He enjoyed our big family so much. And we all loved Br. Aloysius too; he was such a gentle and humble man.

One day it was bitter cold, about zero degrees, when he came to Dad’s store. Dad was shocked to see that he was not wearing an overcoat.

“Brother, where is your coat? It’s freezing out!” my Dad exclaimed.

“Oh, Frank, I don’t have one,” he replied. The monks of the Order of Francis take a vow of poverty and do not personally own anything, even their clothes.

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