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Brother Bernard Adam Klim, C.S.C.

Brother Bernard Adam Klim, C.S.C.
  • March 29, 1930 - October 4, 2015
  • Notre Dame, Indiana

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“I'll never forget Eido Roshi mentioning Brother Bernard in one of his teisho, naming him as a man who "just sits and breathes," the highest praise he...Read More ยป
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Brother Bernard Klim, age 85, died on October 4, 2015 at Columba Hall, in Notre Dame, Indiana. He was born in Detroit, Michigan on March 29, 1930, the son of Kazimer and Magdelena (Nijis) Klim. His parents emigrated from Poland to the Detroit area and his mother died when he was just two months old. It was decided to place Bernie with St. Vincent de Paul Orphanages near Detroit, separated from his father and older brother. He attended an elementary school in Emmett, Michigan until 1947 and worked for a neighbor to learn a variety of skills in carpentry and farming. At age 17, he worked in auto mechanics at a General Motors factory. A nun told Bernie she saw a religious vocation in him. After a visit from Brother Eymard Salzman, he followed a calling and joined the Brothers. He entered Sacred Heart Juniorate at Watertown, Wisconsin on September 7, 1950, then entered St. Joseph's Novitiate in Rolling Prairie, Indiana and pronounced his first vows as a Brother of Holy Cross on February 2, 1952. He still remembers thanking his novice master, Brother Dominic Elder and telling him, "What little I have, I give it all!"
He was assigned to work with Brother Flavian Lambert at Columba Hall to learn more mechanical skills. After six months, he went back to Watertown to serve as director of maintenance for a year. In 1953 he assumed the maintenance and gardening duties at Gilmour Academy for 6 years. In 1959 after a visit with the provincial, he told Brother Donatus he was interested in serving in India or Brazil, but instead he was assigned to Rome as the maintenance director at the Generalate for 15 years and then served the same role for 11 years at Notre Dame International School. Bernie still persisted in asking to become a foreign missionary. In 1963, Brother Theophane, after serving on the General Council, wanted to take Bernie with him to Liberia, but Father Lalande said he was needed in Rome. During his years in Rome, Bernie became involved in creative artistic talents and gained notoriety as a "heavy metal sculptor." He would take scrap metal and weld it into a variety of designs. He visited Roman flea markets to collect damaged tools and scrap. One time he saw a broken monkey wrench and could visualize a horse. This talent and foresight resulted in the production of a variety of magnificent creations. His metal sculptures were exhibited at museum showings in Rome and many are found in community houses in the Midwest Province.
A major transition in Bernie's life took place while in Rome in the 1980s. He found a dissatisfaction with his experience in the Church and his religious life and began to read about other religious traditions. When a Jesuit Zen Master gave a retreat in Rome, Bernie attended it and had a 'rejuvenating experience.' He asked to begin a serious pursuit of the practice of Zen. He came back to the U.S. in 1985 to attend Zen workshops in the Catskill Mountains of New York and at Mount Baldy in California. When he returned to Rome, the Zen Master asked Bernie to be in charge of the "zendo" and help as an interpreter for Italians who didn't know English. On one occasion when the retreat master took ill, Bernie was asked to conduct the retreat. That experience was a new beginning for him.
In 1992, when the International School was closing, Brother John Gleason offered Bernie a chance to go to the missions in East Africa, a desire he first expressed more than 30 years before. He was assigned to join the staffs at Holy Cross institutions in Uganda where his creative construction talents led to numerous projects for the schools, churches, dormitories, chapels, formation houses and grottos in the Holy Cross community. He also continued his Zen practices and giving Zen retreats.
In 2013, Bernie returned to the U.S. for medical tests and treatment and took up residence at Columba Hall. He continued his Zen pursuits, gave presentations, and always exhibited his example of 'mindfulness.' He recently suggested a project to beautify a hillside behind the entrance to the kitchen. He directed and assisted in transforming it into a "Meditation Garden," -- now a fitting memorial to his passing.
Bernie often said, "Holy Cross has given me opportunities and I have taken them." He described himself as leading a monk style of life and said "a Brother is dedicated, no matter what, just a quiet, giving person." His favorite sayings which capture his wisdom of being a Christian Zen are: 'Never stop giving.' 'Wisdom comes through silence.' 'Be aware of every word and every thought.'
Visitation will be held on Thursday, October 8th, at the St. Joseph Chapel, Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, IN from 9:30 to 11:00am. The Mass of Resurrection will then follow with interment afterward in St. Joseph's Cemetery of the Village. Kaniewski Funeral Home is handling the arrangements.
Memorial contributions, in honor of Brother Bernard Klim, C.S.C., to support the mission and ministries of the Brothers may be sent to: Brothers of Holy Cross, Office of Development, P.O. Box 460, Notre Dame, IN 46556.