Brother Eckler lives his faith

Quinten Bright ‘19

Strake Jesuit’s students know many faculty and staff who have devoted years to the Jesuit cause. In the case of Brother Walter Eckler, his life as a Jesuit has spanned 68 years.

Why did Brother Eckler become a Jesuit? The answer is simple. He said, “I discerned that’s what God wanted me to do.”

Brother Eckler grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, and went to college for a year at Palm Beach Junior College (now called Palm Beach State College).

Home is where he found his vocation. “We had Jesuits in our parish, and so I got to know them and I thought that was suitable for my style,” he explained. “At that time we used our hands more than our head, and that’s why I became a Jesuit brother.”

Brother added, “I was here at Strake Jesuit from 1979 to 1983 on the missions. The Jesuits are the largest missionary in the Church, and I thought that’s where I could best serve them.”

But before he ever came to Strake, he first had to take his vows and become initiated into the brotherhood. “I went through the same procedure as we did for all of the Jesuits,” Brother recalled. “I had my novitiate for two years, and then you advance and take vows. I don’t administer the sacraments, but there’s no difference between a Jesuit priest and a Jesuit brother as far as the vows.”

Brother’s service to Christ has taken him around the globe, even to a small volcanic island in Indonesia. “I was over at Krakatau for 23 years, where I had my novitiate,” Brother noted. “I was transferred over here, and I stayed at Strake Jesuit for three years. After that, I went over to Micronesia for three years, and then I came back here, and I’ve been here now for nine years, where the priests and brothers and scholastics all had the same superior.”

Strake Jesuit is blessed with Brother Eckler. You see him delivering mail, praying with our students and faculty, working in the kitchen at Kairos, and vociferously (understatement) supporting our teams at their athletic contests.

“Brother Eckler is the first Jesuit I met here,” said Mr. Saltzman. “He has been my devoted friend and spiritual guide ever since.”

Brother Eckler circled the world and ended up back here at Jesuit, showing how expansive the Jesuit community truly is.