Paul Jerome Wentworth, the future Brother Timothy, was born in upstate New York in a suburb of Syracuse called Mattydale on January 21, 1936, the son of Raymond Wentworth and Julie FLynn. He grew up as the youngest of four boys. His brothers Frank and Jack survive him, his brother Raymond died in 1998. The route by which Paul heard and responded to the divine call to become a Christian Brother was a bit different from that of young prospects of an earlier generation. He attended the public grammar school in Mattydale and then St. JOhn Batist Academy in Syracuse. After graduation in 1954 he went to Le Moyne College for one year. In these strance circumstances, with no previous classroom experience of the Brothers, much less anything like the Juniorate, he somehow heard the call to follow in the footsteps of St. John Baptist de La Salle. In a letter of recommendation, the Sister Senior Advisor at St. John Baptist described him as of "strong character, dependable, and conscientious." She went on to add, "I confidently hope that Paul will become a worthy member of the good Christian Brothers." Similarly, one fo his Jesuit teachers and the Student Counselor at Le Moyne wrote, "IN all my dealings with him, I have found him intelligent, conscientious, and cooperative." He then added, "If it were not for the fact that I am sure that his vocation is with you, I would like to tempt him to become a Jesuit!"
Thus it was that divine Providence led Paul to enter the Brothers' novitiate at Barrytown in the summer of 1955. On September 7 of that year he was invested with the religious habit and given the name Brother Anthony Timothy. Reflecting some years later on that experience, he was able to say to a group of newly-professed Brothers: Dropping everything and following the Lord is not a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Most of us wish it could be that. In reality it is a life-long journey that is walked both in light and darkness, in moments of faith and insight, and in days of doubt and possible despair. It is a journey that knows both the Lord's presence and his apparent absence, a journey that makes sense only in faith and love.
The novitiate was followed by the scholasticate in Washington DC where Tim received the BA degree cum laude from Catholic University in 1959. After a year of teaching sixth grade at St. John's School in the Bronx, Timothy was assigned to the Juniorate faculty at Barrytown where he taught English and music. IN the latter capacity he was given the opportunity to take organ lessons and so began a lifetime of sensitivity to musical values and expertise in its performance. During summers he also managed in 1968 to acquire an MA in Religious Education from Catholic University. In that same year, it must have been something of a shock for Tim to be transferred to Christian Brothers Academy in Albany, for two years as Vice-Principal and then as Principal for six years. From the relative calm of the enclosed formation environment he was suddenly thrust into the world of administrative complexity, faculty demands, and the conflicting views among the Brothers about everything from catechetics and school discipline to religious observance and community life. Things were not very different when, in 1976, Tim was asked to go to De La Salle Collegiate in Detroit and to become Principal the following year.
In January 1979, Brother John Martin, the Provincial Superior, recognizing that High School administration was probable not the best use of Tim's talents, wrote as follows to the Brothers: Timothy Wentworth is completeing three years as Principal of De La Salle Collegiate. He will study for one year in preparation for assignment to the District formation work. Brother Timothy has been a man of patience and forbearance, concern for the students and a sense of justice and compassion for all. He has emphasized the religious spirit of the school and has become the District representative to the National Christian Brothers Committee on Catechetics. After a year of study in leadership and spirituality at Lorette Heights College in Denver, in 1980 TImothy returned to take over the difficult poisition of Director of Novices at Skaneateles. In his essay on the experience of God written for the Spirituality Seminar, we get a glimpse of the approach he would have used with the novices as they tried to discern God's will for them: God is more often found in our brokedness, in our doubts, and in the unexpected moments of fear; that the really graced moments in our lives, that is, when God breaks through to us, are those that are seen only in hindsight, and that they are usually times of Brokedness and darkness. At any rate, Tim's gentle firmness and intense spirituality had their lasting effect as can be seen in the results. Among his novices were Brothers Frank Byrne, Peter Iorlano, Robert Berger, Jack Curran, Thomas Zoppo, Chris Bellemann, Dan Brenner and Dan Gerdner, to cite just the New Yorkers, all of whom now hold leadership positions in the District and beyond.
Tim himself survived the experience, not only through his characteristic serenity and trust in God but also by refusing to be confined to the cloister of the novitiate. He acquired a baby grand piano, took professional lessons, and eventually attained a mastery of some of the most difficult pieces in the piano repertory. After the death of his father in 1980, Time developed an affectionate and jovial relationship with his mother who lived not far away in Mattydale. This lasted until she died in 1989. More significantly, during all these years, Tim regularly attended courses and workshops on spirituality and the religious life. He was much in demand for retreat work in the District and the Region and served an extensive clientele for spiritual direction.
It is not surprising, then, that in 1984 Brother Timothy emerged as the overwhelming choise of the Brothers to take on the role of Visitor (Provincial) and was so appointed in that year. He held the office for the next six years, bringing to it a pastoral dimension and future orientation appropriate for the times in words such as these addressed to the 1986 District Chapter: To make the Lord's word our home, we have to believe that he speaks in our experience; that if we are to find him at all, it can only be in our experience. Part of that total experience is to be willing and free to follow where it leads us. I would suggest that we have too often been unwilling to let experience speak to us and lead us; rather we have clung to securities that may have ended their usefulness many years ago. A high point in Tim's own experience was his participation in the 41st General Chapter in 1986, wher ehe served on the committee entrusted with formulating the chapter on community life in the new RUle. During that time, as the appointed delegate of the Superior General, he traveled to East Africa to supervise and to report on the apostolic works of the Brothers there.
Timothy's final message to the Brothers as Visitor was addressed to them at District Day in 1990: God knows we have more questions asn fewer answers than in the earlier Chruch or Institute. And yet, we can rejoice that this is the only time that we have been called to live, and to live that time with Christ as the only certainty in our lives. It is our call to make him the center from which all else proceeds. We are like that man in the Gospel who was born blind and then given sight. We have to live no with the sight Jesus has given to us; we have to live in the world as it is now, as we see it now, and not as we might want or wish it to be.
After six years as Visitor, Timothy returned in 1990 to his beloved Skaneateles again as Director of what had become an inter-District, international, and even inter-congretional novitiate. During this time he managed to fulfill the requirements for the D. Min. degree from the University of Rochester. When the Novitiate was closed in 1999, Timothy was assigned to the staff of the Sangre de Cristo renewal center near Santa Fe. Meanwhile, he was suffering from what seemed to be the effects of a poisonous spider bite, but turned out to be a lymphoma that needed treatment. Early in 2002, he was sent to De La Salle Hall to recover, but opted instead for Manhattan College where he could work in the counseling center under the direction of Dr. Colette Geary. THe two became close friends and she remained at his side throughout his final illness. In his few years at the center, Tim was able to make the Lasallian presence on the Manhattan campus a relaity as he shared with the students who came to know and love his unique gift for touching hearts.
In the fall of 2003, Brother Frank Byrne, Visitor, sought the advice of the Brothers at the Christian Brothers Center on a Director to replace Brother Kenneth Fitzgerald, retiring after eight years in that office. Brother Timothy was the overwhelming choice and so it was official. But God had other plans. As Tim's lymphoma worsened as was complicated by kidney failure and respiratory problems, God called him to experience in reality and vision what Timothy had all his life experienced in faith. He was buried in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Valhalla, NY.
- Luke Salm, FSC