"Br. Michel blessed our school community with uncommon joy, curiosity, spirituality, intellect, creativity and most of all, love. He not only built a school, he also instilled in us both Franciscan charism and an exciting vision of education that continues to inspire us today," Principal Jason Curtis
Br. Michel Bettigole, O.S.F. was more than just Cardinal Gibbons High School's principal from 1994-2006. He was a beloved leader, educator, and friend who touched everyone he met with his kindness and warmth. That is why his death over Labor Day weekend has left our school community with a tremendous loss, bearable only by the memories, personal and shared, that we have of him to embrace.
As is the Gibbons way, we will come together as a family at a special Mass on Wednesday, October 4, the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, at 5 p.m. at the new Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral in downtown Raleigh. The Mass is open to all, from students and families to alumni and educators, especially those who were at Cardinal Gibbons during the years Br. Michel served as principal.
At the Mass we will celebrate Br. Michel's gifts and legacy to our school, where his impact on forming a generation of future Catholic leaders has been immeasurable. The educational stewardship he provided at Cardinal Gibbons those years ago helped raise the school's level of academic excellence and allowed it to grow in status and reputation. He is remembered as a peacemaker, as well as a caring and loving man who always told graduates how much he loved them. We were blessed by his presence and we will miss him.
Reflecting what many at Cardinal Gibbons felt about Br. Michel, Dean Monroe, Director of Athletic Leadership and Legacy, said: "He was like a father to me and had a huge impact on my life, both personally and professionally. I've never seen someone affect so many lives. Much of what I learned in how to treat people came from observing Br. Michel, who treated people with so much love and kindness."
Annette Jay, Cardinal Gibbons Registrar, added: "In keeping with the mission of the Franciscan Brothers, he (Br. Michel) was always teaching by his actions. He was kind, caring and very generous. Br. Michel was a wonderful person who I considered to be a member of my family."
And Principal Jason Curtis noted: "Br. Michel blessed our school community with uncommon joy, curiosity, spirituality, intellect, creativity and most of all, love. He not only built a school, he also instilled in us both Franciscan charism and an exciting vision of education that continues to inspire us today. Whenever a Gibbons student or educator performs onstage, prays in the Chapel, or experiences a revelatory class, they are fulfilling his legacy. Br. Michel's passing leaves so many to mourn a gifted educator and friend, and for me personally, the loss of the most impactful mentor I've ever had in my life. I will miss dearly his wise counsel, his thoughtful encouragement, and his fatherly love and care for me and my family, and will always be reminded of him in the daily experiences of God's grace that he so passionately shared with every one of us."
To be sure, Br. Michel has had a tremendous impact on Cardinal Gibbons, and many have asked how they can celebrate his legacy. When he retired in 2006, The Franciscan Brothers Endowment was established to honor his work and that of The Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, who served our school from 1994 -2006. If you would like to remember Br. Michel, we invite you to support The Franciscan Brothers Endowment, cghsnc.org/franciscanbrothersendowment
All donations to The Franciscan Brothers Endowment are intended for tuition assistance to serve students and families most in need.
We also share with you information about Br. Michel's funeral arrangements. Visitation will be held on Friday, September 8, from 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. and from 7:00 -9:00 p.m. at Our Lady of the Angels Friary, 344 73rd St. in Brooklyn, NY. There will be a Mass of Christian Burial on Saturday, September 9th, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Angels Church, at 7320 4th Avenue, also in Brooklyn. Br. Michel's burial will follow at Holy Rood Cemetery, 111 Old Country Road in Westbury, NY.