On September 13th, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Brother Paschal Steen, TSA. Brother Paschal had been the last living Atonement Tertiary prior to his death in 2019.
A Mass with Brother Paschal as the intention will recognize the 100th anniversary of his birth on September 13th at the Franciscan Church of the Assumption in Syracuse, NY at 8:30 AM.
An open invitation is extended to all.
The Tertiaries had originated on June 25th, 1899, when Servant of God Father Paul Wattson, SA, formed the Third Order Secular of the Society of the Atonement on a retreat at Dimond House. While not professing vows, these laity played an important role in the early history of the Atonement community. Both men and women were Tertiaries, with female Tertiaries working in the sewing rooms at Our Lady’s Hostel and on St. Anthony’s Farm.
At the time the Society joined the Roman Catholic Church in 1909, it was two Friars, five Sisters and six Tertiaries who were then welcomed into the Catholic Church.
Brother Paschal joined the Tertiaries in 1953, 54 years after Fr. Paul had first established the group. Brother Paschal was the son of Arthur and Florence Steen and was christened as John A. Steen. He was born in New York City in 1923, the same year the city saw the opening of Yankee Stadium.
His parents enrolled him at St. Francis de Sales Elementary School, and he went on thereafter to major in architecture, drafting and carpentry at Murray Hill Trade School. In June 1943, he took these skills and joined the U.S. Navy as a carpenter, repairing landing crafts.
In December 1945, Paschal was in Le Havre, France, working on the troop transport, USS Mount Vernon. He achieved the rank of Seaman First Class and left the military in July 1946, just after the U.S. had detonated its atomic bomb at Bikini Atoll.
As a World War II Veteran, he then began to contemplate religious life and eventually made his way to Graymoor. Given his carpentry background, Fr. James Salvi, SA encouraged him to go to St. Joseph’s at Saranac Lake in October of 1952.
In June the following year, Fr. Aquinas Thomas, SA, a teacher at St. Joseph’s School of Philosophy at Saranac Lake, received him as a Tertiary, where he took the name Paschal. This name, “Paschal,” hearkens back to the central event of our salvation history, the blessed Resurrection.
Reminiscing in a 1994 interview about becoming a Tertiary, Paschal reported that there were 20-30 Tertiaries when he joined, and “Most of them were men from the Inn.”
Brother Paschal remained at St. Joseph’s, overseeing buildings, grounds, and maintenance. He was especially adept at maintaining their furnaces throughout the cold Adirondack winters. In 1987 he was honored for his decades of dedicated work there when the new visitors’ building at St. Joseph’s was named after him.
In 2014, Brother Paschal began living at the Uihlein Nursing Center in Lake Placid. He died on All Souls’ Day, five years later, the last of the Tertiaries at that time. The following year, four Deacons made their first profession as Tertiaries, thereby reviving the Tertiary tradition at Graymoor.