San Francisco Chronicle: Brother Camillus Chavez, a Fixture at Saint Mary's College in Moraga, Dies at 93

He taught others how to built community and helped make Saint Mary's a place of belonging.

by SMC Office of Marketing and Communications Staff | June 8, 2023

“For nearly 50 years, two traditions could be counted on at Saint Mary’s College of California,” writes Sam Whiting in the San Francisco Chronicle. What were they? “The church bells ringing on the hour and Brother Camillus Chavez greeting students with a smile wider than the Spanish-style arcades that fold the campus into the hills of Moraga.”

So begins Whiting’s remembrance of Brother Camillus Chavez ’51, FSC—who, after attending Saint Mary’s, returned to serve alongside the campus community for nearly half a century. Appropriately so, in this story there are voices from across the decades that speak to who Brother Camillus was and what he represented. One is a former student.

“He just made you believe in yourself and to know that everything was going to be okay,” said Nance Tovar, a member of the Class of ’76, who believed in herself enough to open her own school in Oakland, with Brother Camillus as her first board member. “He led by example and showed us that serving others was the most important thing to do after we left Saint Mary’s,” she said.

Another is a longtime colleague who saw what Brother Camillus brought to the campus year after year.

“Brother Camillus cared about everyone at the college no matter their official position, from the President to the faculty to the janitors to the cafeteria workers,” said Tom Brown, retired Dean at Saint Mary’s. “For that equanimity, he was beloved.“

Brother Charles Hilken, FSC, was a good friend to Brother Camillus and visited him after he retired from teaching at Saint Mary's.

In early February, Chavez was moved to Mont La Salle where he had begun his life as a Christian Brother. Hilken last visited him there in late May and took the opportunity to ask Chavez how he wanted to be remembered.

“I want them to remember that I was a badass dude from Dogtown, L.A.” he said. Then he got serious and said “I want people to know that God created them and loves them infinitely.”

Read the full story in the San Francisco Chronicle.


The Saint Mary's community honors Brother Camillus with a Mass of the Resurrection in the Chapel on June 9 at 10 a.m., with a reception to follow in the Soda Center. Find details and read a tribute to Brother Camillus by Brother Charles Hilken, FSC, “Remembering the Remarkable Life of Brother Camillus Chavez.”