In Memory

Brother Francis (Ellis)


Brother Francis Raymond Ellis, CSC

December 23, 1936 - September 9, 2017

Br. Francis Ellis, CSC

Born in New Haven, Connecticut on December 23, 1936, Francis was the second of the four sons of Frank R. Ellis, Detective, and Alma East Ellis, Teacher and Principal. Francis was baptized on January 10, 1937 at St. Mary's Church in New Haven, Connecticut. His early educational experience in New Haven began at Ivy Street Public School and then St. John the Evangelist, where he graduated in 1950.  Notre Dame High School, run by the Brothers of Holy Cross, was the next step in his education.  He relates that in his senior year he began to think of becoming a Brother because of "the friendly and sincere way the Brothers help and teach others." So, with the encouragement of his mother, he decided to "give it a try."  Upon graduating from Notre Dame High School in 1954, he applied and was accepted that June into the candidacy program of the Brothers of Holy Cross at St. Joseph Juniorate in Valatie, New York. He was received into St. Joseph Novitiate, Rolling Prairie, Indiana, on August 15, 1954 and made first profession on August 16, 1955, and final Profession on August 23, 1958.

Leaving Rolling Prairie in August of 1955, Brother Francis began his undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana. He graduated in August of 1958 with a BA degree, upon which he was assigned to teach math and Latin and to coach freshmen football and basketball at Monsignor James Coyle High School in Taunton, Massachusetts.  The following year he was assigned to teach at Vincentian Institute in Albany, New York while attending graduate courses at Siena College in Loudonville, New York.  In June of 1961, he received a MA degree from Siena College and then went on to teach at Holy Cross High School, Flushing, New York. In 1970, Brother Francis became Principal of Bishop Hendricken High School, Warwick, Rhode Island, prior to the Brothers leaving the high school in 1971.  Brother Francis then returned to teach and coach at Holy Cross High School in Flushing, New York from 1971 through 1978, when he was appointed Principal of Cardinal Mooney High School in Rochester, New York from 1978 to 1985. Following his role as principal, he enjoyed a renewal program at Sangre de Cristo in Santa Fe, New Mexico and studies at Santa Fe College, Santa Fe, New Mexico and at Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C.

In 1986, Brother Francis was assigned to Notre Dame International School in Rome, Italy to teach math and coach various intramural sports.  In 1988, his teaching ministry took him to St. Mary's Seminary in Fort Portal, Uganda. Although he served only one year in Fort Portal, his hospitality made a deep impact as on the many and varied frequent visitors the Brothers' house.

Brother Francis then returned to Notre Dame International School in Rome as a teacher and as the director of the Holy Cross Religious community.  He thus finished his overseas ministerial experiences and moved back to the States in 1991, to live at Columbia Hall on the campus of the University of Notre Dame, where he began a Master's of Science in Administration degree at the University.  Upon completion of the Master's degree, he was assigned in 1993 as Business Manager at Bishop McNamara High School in Forestville, Maryland. In 1998 he assumed the additional role of Director of the Brothers community.

In 2005 Frank began a sabbatical year at Sangre de Cristo, New Mexico and then at St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas, He then returned to Notre Dame where he resided at Columba Hall and started his ministry at Dujarie House primarily as a "Transportation Coordinator." and his years of experience driving buses for school teams made him well-prepared for driving brothers to various medical appointments and shopping.  Frank would often drive the van on a wandering route through the campus of Notre Dame to ensure the brothers were up to date.

Although Frank described himself as semi-retired, he was very active as Assistant Superior at Columba Hall.   Besides taking care of the various needs of the Brothers in community there, as well as many of the guests, he was busy attending the various athletic events, lectures and cultural events on the Notre Dame campus, not to mention getting in some swimming at the Rockne Memorial and playing golf - for free at the two university courses..

In April of 2015, at the time of his 60th Jubilee, he related, "I plan to keep doing most of these things for the next decade or so with God's blessings."  But, the Lord called him home on Saturday, September 9, 2017.  He was not feeling well that morning and at Memorial Hospital in South Bend, Indiana a heart problem was detected, but in the midst of preparations for surgery, he passed on to new life.

Please join me in prayer for the repose of the soul of our dear Brother Frank and for the consolation of family, community members and friends.  We have been blessed by his many years of dedicated ministry in secondary education - in the classroom and on the sports field, and to us, his Brothers.  We will greatly miss his presence as Assistant Superior, brother and friend.  

Br. William Zaydak, CSC
Provincial Superior

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On Wednesday, September 13, 2017, services for Br. Francis Ellis will be held at the St. Joseph Chapel of Holy Cross College, South Bend, Indiana.   Viewing will be from 10 a.m. - 11 a.m.followed by Mass.

On Friday, September 15, 2017, a Memorial Service will be held at 7:15 p.m. at the chapel of the St. Joseph Center, Valatie, New York.

The Mass of Christian Burial will then be celebrated on Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. followed by interment at the St.. Joseph Center cemetery.

If you are able to attend services at St. Joseph Center and will be staying overnight or will be present for the community meal after the interment, please contact Sue Henderson at St. Joseph Center. Phone: 518-784-9481 Fax: 518-784-9494 Email:

Thanks to Br. Harold Hathaway for preparing this obituary and to Br Richard Critz in editing it.