Brother Ernest Paquet passed into the loving arms of the Lord on April 21, 2023, at the tender age of 98. Born in 1925 in Biddeford, ME, Brother Ernest Paquet joined the Brothers of Christian Instruction after graduating in 1941 as valedictorian of St. Louis High School, which was operated by the Congregation. “I found them to be a happy group, and I said, that’s the life for me.”
After joining the Congregation, Brother Ernest spent five years in Canada in formation and teaching before moving to Africa in 1947 to spend more than 25 years teaching and in missionary service in Bukoba, Tanzania (10 years), where he also served as the electrician and water engineer, and at Kisubi and Gulu in Uganda (15 years), followed by two years at Murang'a in Kenya.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Classics from the University of Montreal during a sabbatical in 1955 and a Master of Science in Mathematics in 1968 from the University of Detroit during another sabbatical.
After leaving Africa, Brother Ernest spent six years teaching at St. Mary’s College, Southampton, England. While there, he started a computer club for teenagers. Demonstrating his love for the technology and his zeal for teaching, Br. Ernest created an experience that brought adolescents to school for long hours on Saturdays, a feat that stunned their parents.
By special invitation of Brother Francis Blouin, Brother Ernest returned to the United States and joined the faculty of then Walsh College (now University) to launch the computer science program in 1981, and soon thereafter spent two summers at the University of Evansville in Indiana completing his master's degree in computer science. At Walsh, Brother Ernest taught courses in the program, as well as in math, and was always ready with a screwdriver and a soldering iron when computer repairs were needed.
Often described as wiry and energetic, enthusiastic and cheerful, Br. Ernest’s attitude was explained simply through his unwavering faith in God. He put it best when he said, “You have to remember that God is going to win in the end. So, you know you are on the winning side. That can help you keep a cheerful nature.”
Brother Ernest retired from chairing the Walsh University Computer Science Department in 2000 and served as Coordinator of Advising and a part-time instructor until 2007. He was awarded the Walsh University Distinguished Founders' Award in 2009, an honor that recognizes those who have lived their lives with the same ideals that inspired the founders of the Brothers of Christian Instruction: faith in God, fidelity to the Catholic Church, active concern for Christian Education, dedication to authentic social justice, and courageous promotion of human welfare, especially among those less fortunate and disenfranchised. In 2012, the Walsh University Alumni Association awarded him the Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to Walsh’s students and graduates.
In addition to his teaching and advising duties, Brother Ernest was known for his commitment to fitness and could be seen walking several miles every day around campus until he relocated to Bethany, a skilled long-term care facility in Canton, Ohio. He was also an avid amateur photographer and loved taking candid shots of the Walsh University community at campus events.
In his memoir of his time in Africa, Brother Ernest Paquet summed up his feelings about his life spent as a member of the Brothers of Christian Instruction: “Throughout my life, it was my confreres who sustained me, taught me the ropes, encouraged and urged me onwards, tolerated my quirks, and were always there when I needed help of any kind. I am so fortunate in being one of these Brothers of Christian Instruction, and engaged in the greatest of tasks.”
He is survived by many nieces and nephews.
A funeral will be held in Alfred, Maine on May 6. A Memorial Mass and Tribute will be held on Walsh’s campus at a later date in coordination with the Brothers of Christian Instruction. In lieu of flowers, friends may donate to the Brothers of Christian Instruction Endowed Scholarship Fund in his honor at www.walsh.edu/give or mail a check to Walsh University Office of Advancement, Attn: Brothers of Christian Instruction Scholarship, 2020 E. Maple St., North Canton, OH 44720.
Walsh University would like to thank Bethany Nursing home of Canton for taking such good care of our dear Brother Ernest.
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