Brother Raymond Albers SVD, 93, an artist and master builder, died on Jan. 13.
Born in Cherokee, Iowa, in 1929, Raymond Albers was the fourth of Bruno and Barbara (nee Beckman) Albers’s six sons. After graduation from Central High School in Le Mars, Iowa, in 1947, Ray Albers entered the Society of the Divine Word and professed vows in 1949.
A man of many trades and talents, he served as a tailor at the Divine Word community in Conesus, N.Y.; a carpenter in Bordentown, N.J., and Washington, D.C.; and a draftsman for the Divine Word Architecture Bureau in Rome.
While making a visit to Rome in 1969, Brother Ray expressed interest in serving in a mission outside of North America. Father Joseph Connolly SVD, who helped to found St. Joseph Technical School in Saboba, Ghana, overheard the request and knew that Brother Ray was the man to help them. Having the building and architectural design skills needed, Brother Ray was assigned to St. Joseph’s Technical School in 1971 and became the principal.
In 1976, he returned to the United States and fulfilled some of the province’s needs, including serving as business manager at St. Anselm in Chicago and the director of Brother Formation at Techny. He earned a certificate in alcohol counseling from Gannon University in Erie, Penn., and worked as a substance abuse counselor.
Before retiring, he once again was assigned to the missions and provided pastoral care for the Zapotecas people of Oaxaca, Mexico.
Age did not slow his studies. He studied gerontology, contemporary spirituality and art, specializing in stained-glass windows.
In 1994 at the age of 64, Brother Ray received a bachelor’s degree in Gerontology from DePaul University’s School for New Learning.
In 2001, he designed and constructed the stained-glass windows of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in East Troy, Wis. Later he drew upon his experiences in Ghana and designed the stained-glass windows in chapel of Divine Word Residence at Techny and the African Chapel in the Techny Towers Conference and Retreat Center.
“Cultural symbols embrace the unseeable world,” Brother Ray once wrote. “They arise from the spirituality of people. It is important for us to enter a culture with a healthy imagination so that we can live and react creatively with the symbols of the people…. A missionary cannot live in Africa for long without realizing he has entered a way of human understanding which expresses itself in symbols and proverbs.”
Brother Ray had lived at Techny in retirement since 2008. His funeral Mass took place on Jan. 19 at the Divine Word Residence chapel at Techny. He was laid to rest in St. Mary’s Cemetery at Techny, Ill.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by four brothers—Virgil, Lewis, Gerald and Leo. He is survived by his brother Frank and nieces and nephews. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations for the care of elderly and infirmed missionaries may be sent to: Rector, Divine Word Residence, 1901 Waukegan Rd., P.O. Box 6000, Techny, IL 60082-6000.