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Brink of Enlightenment

Bro. Ed Brink, SM, considered himself a renegade environmentalist with a mission to save the planet as he pursued a college degree in Environmental Engineering Technology. Presently, he serves as Vice President for Mission and Rector at the Chaminade University of Honolulu, HI, and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Marianist Family Encounters Project.

March 22, 2023

by University Communications & Marketing,

Chaminade University of Honolulu.

Inspired by author Rachel Carson’s seminal novel about the environment, “Silent Spring,” a young dewy-eyed Bro. Ed Brink sought to pursue a degree in Environmental Engineering Technology with hopes of being part of the solution to climate change. The caveat: He had to attend a Catholic college.

After researching Catholic universities in and around his home state of New York, Brink decided to step out of his zip code and visited the University of Dayton. Hesitant at first about living in the Midwest, Brink arrived on the College Park campus not yet fully committed to enroll. However, after reviewing the various majors offered at the school, the then-18-year-old teenager found an environmental program that suited his passion.

“Like a lot of people in the ’70s, I was influenced by Rachel Carson’s writings about the dangers to our environment,” recalls Brink, who pledged his first vows to the Society of Mary (Marianists) on Aug. 11, 1985. “I wanted to use technology to do good for the climate.”

Pictured to the left: Bro. Ed Brink discusses Marianist values with students at the Sullivan Family Library Lawn.

Soon, though, Brink found himself more interested in the acts of service, which is one of the pillars of a Marianist education. He no longer saw himself as a renegade “environmentalist” with a mission to save the planet. Instead, with the encouragement of his professor, Fr. James Heft, Brink thought deeply about committing to the religious life of a Marianist. “I went to my first meeting and I got scared away,” says Brink, with a smile. “Honestly, I wasn’t sure this was going to be for me.”

Although ambivalent, Brink was still very much interested in the acts-of-service component of his education, prompting him to live in a Marianist community during his junior and senior years. The experience compelled him to start the Marianist Formation, a relatively lengthy, five-step process to help future Marianists determine whether it is the right path for them.

The first phase, “Contact,” requires regular interaction with a Marianist priest or brother and a local Marianist community, which would provide the opportunity for live-in experiences, discernment groups and retreats.

“And then you do two years of novitiate, most of which takes place at Mount Saint John in Beavercreek, Ohio,” explains Brink, whose pursuit to understand the meaning of religious life led him to the Bergamo Center for Lifelong Learning, a nearby retreat that welcomes people of all faiths to experience spiritual growth through its educational and ecumenical programs.

“During the first year, the formation focuses on intellectual and spiritual growth,” Brink says, “and you take classes in the history and theology of religious life, and life as a Marianist in particular.”

During his second year as a novice, Brink participated in active ministry while also teaching classes. Once he completed his novitiate stage, Brink made his first vows and entered the “Temporary Professed” period, which can take three to six years.

“It’s a long and involved process to become a perpetually professed brother,” Brink says. “Formation never really ends for a Marianist; it is a life-long process of spiritual renewal, personal growth and committed service.”

Pictured to the right: Bro. Ed Brink returns to the classroom to teach CUH 100.

After completing his bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering Technology at the University of Dayton, where he also obtained his Ohio teaching certificate, he then attained his master’s in Private School Administration from the University of San Francisco. In 1985, he started full-time teaching at Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School in Dayton, until 1989, when he switched to part-time teaching and worked in campus ministry the rest of the time. Brink was subsequently named director of Faculty and Staff Development and then principal from 1994 to 1998.

“I’ve spent more than 25 years in Dayton, longer than any one place I’ve lived in my life,” Brink says. “And now I’m entering my seventh year here in Hawai’i.”

Prior to his appointment as Chaminade’s Rector in 2016 and now also its Vice-President of Mission, Brink served as a regent for the university from 2007 to 2015. At the same time, he worked for the Society of Mary as the Assistant for Education for the Marianist Province of the U.S., overseeing the relationships between the Province and three Marianist universities: Chaminade University of Honolulu, University of Dayton and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. At the University of Dayton, he served as the director for the Center for Catholic Education and the school’s Lalanne Program director.

Brink was also a liaison between the Province and such sponsored schools as Saint Louis, planning and executing programs for teachers and administrators. In addition, he was a member of the Provincial Council and a board member for Saint Louis School.

The popular campus figure has now also returned to the classroom, teaching CUH 100, which provides an overview of the university.

“I really like the interaction with students,” Brink says. “I received a call out of the blue the other day from a former UD student, whom I remember taking outside the chemistry lab and telling him he better button up and apply himself. He became a doctor and he wanted to tell me this, and that he has never forgotten the talk I gave him that day. Now seeing that kind of transformation is rewarding.”


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1 Comment

Dear Ed, I hope you keep being a renegade. I admire your quiet and very effective service to the Province, to educators, and to the university. I was not aware of your commitment to saving the planet. I think that is being a renegade as Jesus would be if He were still here. Thanks! You encourage me!

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