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Tennis, sharp dressers and a tale of two families … Ask a Marianist

3:34 PM  Dec 30th, 2010
by Brother Al Kuntemeier, S.M. ’51

Brother Al Kuntemeier, S.M. ’51 knows what he teaches. Brother Al earned first place in the Texas State Fair Classic tennis tournament, where the lack of competitors in his 80-year-old age bracket required him to win against opponents in their early 70s; last year, he coached Nolan Catholic High School to a boys doubles state title.

Tennis is a very cerebral sport. What life lessons learned in tennis carry over to daily life? —Eric Mahone, UD tennis coach

Yes, a lot of it is in the mind. I have the mindset that I’m going to play my best, and if my best is better than my opponent’s, I’ll win. If I don’t win, it’s not because I didn’t play my best; it’s because my opponent played better. I ask my players after a match, “Did you lose, or did you get beat?” If they played their best, they didn’t lose, no matter what the outcome. My attitude is that I can and will win when I play my best. And that’s what life is all about.

How do you continue to be so good at golf after 63 years of being a Marianist? —Father Bert Buby, S.M. ’45, Dayton

God, and my mom and dad, gave me good genes. I take care of my body, and then it’s practice, practice, practice. Actually, my game is more tennis. Golf takes too much time and it’s too

How do you relate your athletic coaching to your life as a Marianist? —Brother Phil Aaron, S.M. ’54, Dayton

Student athletes have a gift, a talent and a corresponding responsibility to do their best. I say, “Play your best, and if you do, I’m satisfied and I’m proud of you.” I want to teach a Christian message. I ask them to accept the gifts God gives them and to use them well. St. Julian of Norwich said, “The greatest honor we can give Almighty God is to live joyfully in the knowledge of His love for us.” I try to live that. I hope that whatever I do — teach accounting, counsel, coach — reflects my dedication, my living my Marianist vocation.

The Marianists were founded by Father Chaminade in Bordeaux, France, in 1817. The Marist order, also the “Society of Mary,” operates Marist High School in Atlanta and other schools throughout the world. They too were founded in France about the same time. How did this happen? It is extremely confusing. —Charles Werling ’58, Suwanee, Ga.

My favorite is when someone asks, “Are you a Marist brother?” The answer: “No, I’m a Marianist — we’re longer than they are.” Father Champagnat, a Marist father, founded the Brothers of Mary in France in 1817. The Marists are also known as the Society of Mary. The religious vows — poverty, chastity and obedience — are essentially the same. Maybe it’s like having two Jones families — name’s the same, but oh so different. We Marianists have our own history, charism, culture, spirit. We are known for community, for family spirit, our special devotion to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. We take our vow of stability, which is a marian dedication to the mission and person of Mary. We live together, brothers and priests, in equality.

Why don’t Marianist brothers wear habits anymore? —Ernest Avellar ’49, Hayward, Calif.

Actually, we never did wear a “habit.” Chaminade ordered that the Marianist dress should differ little from that of seculars. At the time, they wore a chestnut brown Prince Albert coat, then a black Prince Albert coat. That lasted until 1947, when we switched to a short coat, double-breasted black suit, white shirt, black tie. My profession group, 1948, was the first to wear the short coat. People would see a group of us and wonder if we were going to an undertakers’ convention. Very few of us wear the black suit any more. We dress like the professionals of today. One of my claims to fame is that I do dress coordinated. Some of my colleagues call me “GQ.”

What is the key to the kingdom of God? —Francisco Alvarez ’88, San Juan, Puerto Rico

You get into the kingdom of God when you know Him, love Him and serve Him. Sound like the Baltimore Catechism? If you want the kingdom of God, follow the Commandments. And following the Commandments is broader than just “don’t kill” or “don’t miss Mass.” Love God, and show that love by the life you live. Do that and you have the key to the kingdom of God, the key to heaven. I don’t know where heaven is, but I believe in it, and I want to get there.

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