“Your profession is not what brings home your weekly paycheck;
your profession is what you’re put on earth to do
with such passion and such intensity
that it becomes spiritual in calling.” Vincent Van Gogh
Before Brother John spent 21 years at Holy Trinity High School in Chicago from 1986-2007, he spent his first ten years at Archbishop Hoban High School in Akron, OH from 1962 to 1972. Between those decades, he spent no more than one or two years at any of his six other assignments with the exception of five years at Father Gibault School for Boys in Terra Haute, IN. Such frequent assignment changes might suggest that at the beginning of his religious life, John was stable for a short while and then became progressively restless.
John Schuszler was not the restless type. Rather, he was conscientious–a man of predictable patterns—a prayerful man by whose patterns of a “regular life” other brothers might set their clocks. He was frequently moved because he was just the man to be sent where things were, quite literally, falling apart. Utterly resourceful, he was one of the legendary Holy Cross brother maintenance directors who saved and scavenged for useable parts and tools to be used later on. These men knew how to recycle and how to repair things because they frequented Army Navy stores and auto graveyards. John was a master of analyzing the needs of a building so there were no unanticipated disasters. He was utterly capable and could tackle almost any task no matter the time commitment, the expertise needed or the sweat and grime involved.
Brother John had a marvelous sense of humor about himself, and he always could be relied upon to tell the truth about what he could and could not repair. He was genuinely cordial to everyone in the school house from the young custodian who had only a high school education to secretaries and, most definitely, business managers, as well as principals and a president.
He began his career at Archbishop Hoban High School as a teacher of industrial arts and made steady progress as an informed instructor who was concerned that his students could operate a lathe or overhaul an automobile engine. His students, all boys in those days, appreciated his patience and his causal approach to classroom decorum whether in the woodshop, garage or in the mechanical drawing lab.
In 1977, he went to Monrovia, Liberia for three years. He became the “coordinator” of the Antoinette Tubman Child Welfare Center’s elementary school with 70 boys and girls—orphans, who were regarded by the Liberians as vagabonds. John did some teaching there, but his primary responsibility was student in-take and assisting teachers with classroom student behavior issues. When the students arrived, most were illiterate and many abused both physically and spiritually. Brother John let the teachers know that truly effective behavioral changes took place both inside and outside the formal classroom: “It’s example. If teachers have any values, those will rub off on the kids”.
The first brother president of Holy Trinity High School rarely went to Brother John’s maintenance office to inform him of this or that problem. It was Brother John who would stop by the president’s office once a week and inform him of what needed either immediate attention or could be put on hold because of the shortage of money. One Holy Trinity business manager recalled that when John was given a budget of $50,000, at the end of the fiscal year, he normally had spent only a fraction of it. It was the rare occasion when John had to report an issue he had not anticipated weeks or even months prior.
As a Brother of Holy Cross, Brother John was devoted to prayer and daily mass attendance. For his entire twenty-one years at Holy Trinity, he arrived at school each morning at 4:00 AM–long before community mass was celebrated back at the house. Each morning, he would walk across the parking lot to Holy Trinity Church for the 6:00 AM mass which was always recited in Polish. While retired at Columba Hall, he served mass every other week until just a few weeks before his death. He could be depended upon to recite the office with gusto as he had mastered “his” cadence of the psalms. He kept his side of the chapel marching forward with both morning and evening prayer recitation when many of the brothers could no longer hear or see well.
A “good and faithful servant” both to his God and to all who came to him with need, John responded to anyone who came to him for assistance. Although he rigorously lived his regular lifestyle, he was also adaptable as his many personal inventions for the long-lasting fix testify. He simply and consistently lived the words of St. Paul: “And whatsoever you do, do it heartily for to the Lord;” (Col 3:23).
Brother John is proceeded in death by his parents. His two sisters, Elaine (Schuszler) Lee and Mary Ann (Schuszler) McDonnel live in Ohio.
Visitation and burial are pending because the COVID-19 pandemic.