The Province of the United States of America recommends to our fraternal prayers our dear brother, LeRoy Viera, of the Marianist Community of Cupertino, CA, USA, who died in the service of the Blessed Virgin Mary on January 20 in Cupertino at the age of 92, with 65 years of religious profession.
Brother LeRoy was a veteran, a skilled carpenter and an artist who dedicated his life as a working brother serving in maintenance and construction positions in Marianist schools and ministries.
LeRoy Lewis Viera was born in Antioch, California, on December 28, 1926. He was the fifth child in the family of Ruth (nee Dunn) and Joseph Viera. He had three older brothers and an older sister. Growing up in the wake of the Great Depression, LeRoy’s family reestablished themselves through hard work, planning and determination.
At the time, Antioch was a grape-growing and ranching area. Brother LeRoy helped his family doing odd jobs and working the vineyards. It was during this time that God moved into his life in a significant way and he often spent his time working in the vineyards talking with God. He attended Antioch High School but left when he turned 18 to serve in the Coast Guard during World War II. When he returned home, he worked at Dow Chemical in Pittsburg, California while using his G.I. Bill to take carpentry classes in night school.
He got a job as a carpenter at the local paper mill where one of his friends was killed in an accident. It was this tragedy and the subsequent injustices by the management to the survivors that caused LeRoy to reflect on his life and what he wanted to do in the future.
He began discerning the calling of becoming a Religious Brother but had never met a Marianist until he happened to pass by the community of Chaminade in Santa Cruz. On a lark, he decided to pay a visit and found the religious community he would be identified with for the rest of his life. The Marianists would take Brother LeRoy to new and unexpected places. Upon reflection on his 50th Jubilee, he wrote, “I joined the Navy and saw a lot of water; then I joined the Marianists and saw the world.”
He entered the novitiate on August 14, 1952 at the age of 26. He professed first vows in August 15, 1953 and perpetual vows in on August 15, 1957.
From 1976-1981, Brother LeRoy was able to use his carpentry skills working on the province construction crew in Cupertino, California. He worked with four other Marianists to construct a retirement home for elderly Marianists and a novitiate. In 1979, a creative avocation emerged shortly after he sustained a severe eye injury on the construction site. During his convalescence, a nurse encouraged him to explore art therapy.
In 2015, Brother LeRoy retired to the Cupertino Marianist Community. He continued to occupy his time in retirement in work and prayer. Brother Jack Dempsey writes, “Brother LeRoy was an outstanding ‘semi-retired’ and extremely busy working Brother. An exemplary prayerful religious, Brother LeRoy was always the first one in chapel for our daily prayer. An excellent property manager, Brother LeRoy kept a running “to do” list for minor property projects and assisting everyone as requested.