Brother Augustine Towey, C.M., passed away Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, after a long illness. Brother Augustine was 75 years old.
Brother Augustine had a long and distinguished history with Niagara University and his impact on Monteagle Ridge will be remembered forever. Brother Augustine is credited with developing Niagara University Theatre into a nationally recognized program, and he was instrumental in the building of the Elizabeth Ann Clune Center for Theatre and the renovation of the Leary Theatre.
Brother Augustine came to NU in September of 1964 and taught classes in English literature and speech. He then became involved with the Niagara University Players and, from a few early theatre courses, the current theatre program came into existence. In his time at Niagara, Brother Augustine directed more than 135 plays and nurtured countless actors in the process. He also established the bachelor of fine arts degree at NU, which received New York state certification in 1988.
“The passing of Brother Augustine is a loss that will be felt for some time at Niagara University,” said the Rev. Joseph L. Levesque, C.M., NU president. “For many, Brother Augustine’s personal and visionary approach to teaching and theatre was representative of our institution as a whole. Over the course of more than four decades, he inspired countless young men and women, personally and professionally, all of whom are better people for having known him. Our community has been – and will always be – grateful for having been blessed with Brother Augustine’s presence, but his passing on Thanksgiving presented us with another fitting opportunity to express our appreciation for a trusted colleague, a close friend and a great man. ‘Bro’ will be missed.”
Brother Augustine is also an accomplished poet and has published seven volumes and recorded two CDs of poetry while at NU. This past July, Brother Augustine published a new collection of poetry titled Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: Pieces for the Holy Family. This short collection contains his reflections on the Holy Family, written in his customary warm and human style.
Brother Augustine was also well-known in the local theatre community as well. He directed at local professional venues including Opera Sacra, Irish Classical Theatre Company and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. He served as associate artistic director for theatre programs and the director and founder of Artpark Repertory Theatre from its inception in 1975 until 2003. He served as a member of the board of directors of the Niagara Council of the Arts. Brother Augustine also wrote 12 plays for the stage and television, including The Guardian for the NBC-TV network.
In 1994, Artpark and Company honored Brother Augustine for his contributions to the arts in Western New York by naming a chair after him. In 1989, he was awarded an honorary doctor of fine arts degree from St. John’s University, where he served as a member of the board of trustees for 13 years, and the Medal of Honor by Niagara University. He is also the recipient of the Career Achievement Award from Artvoice, a Brotherhood-Sisterhood Award from the Western New York Region of the National Conference for Community and Justice for his work in the arts, and the Outstanding Artist Award from the Arts Councils in Buffalo and Erie County.
Brother Augustine is originally from Hempstead, N.Y. At the time of his death, he was living at St. Vincent’s Seminary, the Provincial Headquarters of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of the Mission in Philadelphia, Pa. He is survived by his beloved sisters, Anne Towey and Brenda Romanski; his nephew, Scott Romaski; his niece, Helen Tostaine, and her husband, Gregory; and his sister-in-law, Helen Towey. He was predeceased by his brother, Douglas.
A viewing will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2012, 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m.; and Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 9-10 a.m. at St. Thomas More Church on the Queens Campus of St. John’s University, 8000 Utopia Parkway, Queens, N.Y. 11439. A Funeral Mass will be held Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Thomas More Church on the Queens Campus of St. John’s University. Interment will follow at 2 p.m. at the Vincentian Community Cemetery, Princeton, N.J.
Memorial donations may be made to the Brother Augustine Towey Theatre Scholarship Fund, c/o Niagara University, Office of Institutional Advancement, Lewiston Rd., Niagara University, N.Y. 14109.