1922 – 2002 (January 20)
William Cornelis Van Breda, son of Cornelis Van Breda and Gertrude Picard, was born in Tilburb, The Netherlands, on July 8, 1922. He began his early education by attending the parochial school at the Broeders Van Liefde from 1928 to 1933, and later attended high school at the Pensionaat St. Louis from 1933 to 1935. From 1935 to 1942 he studied philosophy at the Augustinianum, Eindhoven, and theology at the Theologicum Culemborg and Nijmegen. He entered the Augustinian novitiate on September 9, 1943, professed vows on September 10, 1944, as a member of the Dutch Province, and made solemn profession three years later. He was ordained to the priesthood on March 19, 1950 in Nijmegen.
Father Van Breda's first assignment was to Saint Augustine Parish, Nieuwendam, Amsterdam, and in 1951, he was sent to the Institute Catholique in Paris, for graduate work. In 1952, he was assistant pastor at Saint Nicholas in Witmarsum, The Netherlands. In 1954, Father Van Breda arrived in the United States and became an assistant at Saint Genevieve, Parish, Flourtown, Pa., and then, from 1955 to 1956 he taught at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, N.Y.
From 1956 to 1973, Father Van Brda began his long career as teacher of classics, French, German, and religion at Monsignor Bonner High School, Drexel Hill, Pa. From 1973 to 1974, he taught at Austin Friars in Carlisle, England, and from 1975 to 1982, he worked as hospital chaplain while a member of Saint Augustine Parish, Philadelphia, Pa. He also served as assistant pastor in the parishes of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine, Jamaica, N.Y., Saint James Minor, Carthage, N.Y., and Saint Genevieve, Flourtown, Pa. In 1995, he became hospital chaplain at the Southeastern Pa. Veterans Center until he became too ill to continue ministry. Father Van Breda retired to the Health Care Unit of St. Thomas Monastery, Villanova, Pa., where he died on January 20, 2002.
Students remember Father Van Breda as an excellent and demanding teacher. Gifted with a subtle sense of humor he encouraged everyone to be the best they could be, both intellectually and spiritually. Through his faith, scholarship and experience he developed a sense of self awareness that flowed over into his religious dedication. When he felt he spent his talents in a given ministry or location, he moved on to encourage parishioners and students in several province commitments.
On January 23, the Liturgy of Christian Burial was celebrated for Father Van Breda in St. Thomas of Villanova Church, Villanova, followed by burial in the Augustinian plot at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, Pa.