July 18 marks the one year anniversary of the passing of one of the Brothers of Mercy Clarence Congregation’s longest serving members, Brother Hugh Denomme. Brother Hugh served in the Brothers of Mercy Mary Help of Christians for 64 dedicated years. As we remember Brother Hugh today, we reflect back upon his life and the beautiful legacy he left behind.
Born George Anthony Dennome, in Detroit, Michigan, Brother Hugh was the second born of five children, and spent much of his adolescence acting as a caregiver for his chronically ill brother. He attributes these experiences with having a major influence on leading him to a life of service with the Brothers of Mercy.
Brother Hugh attended Detroit University High School, a Jesuit, all-boys high school, where he originally felt called to become a member of a Jesuit mission in India. While contemplating this potential path, he stumbled upon a Brothers of Mercy pamphlet in the school library, which inspired him to charter a bus to Buffalo, NY at the young age of seventeen. Here he witnessed the Brothers’ mission in action, as they honored Christ through selfless service to others.
Trusting that “God knows what he’s doing,” Brother Hugh took a leap of faith and pledged to become a part of their beautiful legacy. He joined the Novitiate program in 1955, professing his vows in March of 1956, and got right to work on the medical floors as a Novice Nursing Aid. Brother Hugh recalled the work as being “very intense and requiring much dedication.” He even reported into night duty shifts while sick with pneumonia, because “that was the kind of work ethic instilled by our German founders.”
In recognition of good patient care, Brother Hugh received a tuition discount from the Mercy Hospital School of Nursing, graduating in 1958 as the only male in his class. He also completed a BS in Nursing from St. Louis University. Various roles held included Head Nurse at Sacred Heart Home in Clarence, working alongside Brother Xavier O’Neill at Mercy Manor in Kansas City, along with St. Vincent’s Nursing Home in Oklahoma City, and even serving at the Jewett Parkway residence. Here he aided not only patients, but their families, by providing them with respite.
Upon retiring from floor nursing, Brother Hugh embarked upon spiritual care training in San Antonio, Texas, later serving as a part time Spiritual Care Assistant in all of the facilities at the Brothers of Mercy Campus in Clarence. He also assisted chaplains with Sunday Mass at the Sacred Heart Home, often playing the organ and leading the liturgy in song.
A lover of travel (with a taste for adventure), Brother Hugh never hesitated to jump in the car and travel cross-country. His travels even spanned the continents, and included serving as a delegate at the Brothers of Mercy headquarters in Montabaur, Germany. Brother Hugh also loved reading, putting together jigsaw puzzles, and spending time in reflection and prayer.
With over six decades of dedicated service, Br. Hugh truly exemplified the mission statement of the Brothers of Mercy: “The Charity of Christ Urges Us On”. He will always be remembered fondly in the hearts and prayers of the many, many people whose lives he touched.