GROWING UP ON A FARM outside of Rochester, N.Y., as the oldest of four children, young Raymond Vercruysse was determined to convince his dad that he could earn the tuition to Bishop Kearney High School through his weekend and summer work on the farm. Convince him he did, showing at a young age the potent seeds of a lifetime of passionate commitment to Catholic education and the vision of Blessed Edmund Rice. At Kearney he first met the Christian Brothers and his vocation was fostered through his deep admiration for their teaching and faith-filled example. Joining the Christian Brothers at age 18, Br. Raymond began his studies at Iona College in 1973, where he decided to major in economics and double minor in math and religions, two subjects he would go on to teach in his many years as an educator at Power Memorial, Bergen Catholic, and All Hallows.
He earned an MS in Guidance and Counseling at the Catholic University of America and, for four years, he was the congregation vocation director before being appointed the principal and then president of his alma mater, Bishop Kearney, where he proudly served for nine years. Following this tenure at Kearney, Br. Ray moved to the West Coast to pursue his doctorate in Catholic Educational Leadership and then to serve for five years as the director of the Institute of Catholic Education Leadership at the University of San Francisco. These years brought Br. Ray ample opportunity for fruitful engagement with Catholic educators throughout the country. Since this time, he has served as a consultant to many Boards of Directors and religious communities seeking to maintain the Catholic character of their institutions. In his consulting work with Catholic educators, he regularly draws from insights in his doctoral dissertation on the charisma of Blessed Edmund Rice.
Sr. Ona Bessette, a member of the Province leadership team of the Congregation of Notre Dame, says, “Br. Ray embodies the essential elements of a Christian Brother Education in all that he does. He empowers others to share in the mission of education and promotes a world where the poor and marginalized are raised up and their lives proclaim the power of the Gospel.”
In this spirit of Blessed Edmund, Br. Ray has served faith-fully the Iona College Board of Trustees since 2005, with time spent on the Mission & Student Life and Academic committees. In 2008, he was elected to the leadership team of the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, a position in which he oversees the Education office of the congregation and works tirelessly to foster the Edmund Rice and Catholic identity of the schools throughout North America.
Br. Ray is the 2019 recipient of the Br. Arthur Austin Loftus Award for outstanding commitment to Iona College and to the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers. This award honors the exemplary life of Br. Loftus, the second president of Iona College, who served as a faculty member, basketball coach, Province leader, and eventually the elected leader in Rome of the entire Congregation of Christian Brothers. Iona College proudly bestows this award on Br. Vercruysse in deep appreciation for his 14 years of leadership on the Iona College Board of Trustees, his dedication to the Edmund Rice Christian Brothers, and his invaluable role serving on the Province Leadership team.