by Stephen G. Dickhout
sun contributing writer
“Service means an unceasing and wholehearted labor in making ourselves available to Jesus so that he may live, in and through us, his life of infinitely tender, compassionate and merciful love, for the spiritually and materially poorest of the poor.”
– Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Early in the morning of July 17, just hours after celebrating his 65th birthday, William Joseph Spurrier, a long-time staff member of Unity Acres, died unexpectedly at Crouse Hospital in Syracuse. He was born July 16, 1943, and was baptized on July 17 in Baltimore, Md., the son of the late Robert and Michaeline (Swrander) Spurrier of Baltimore. He is survived by his brother Robert Spurrier of Glen Burnie, Md., and his sister Marlene Kessler of Baltimore. He resided at Unity Acres at the time of his death, occupying a small apartment on the grounds.
Bill received his education at St. Clement’s School in Baltimore. He worked at St. Agnes Hospital in the radiology department for three years before entering religious life as a young man. While stationed in Louisiana, New Mexico and California, Bill served as a brother in the teaching and nursing fields, and in parish work. His name as a religious was Brother Marcellus de Paul, OSF. He was a member of the Franciscan Friars of the Sacred Heart.
Along with three others, Brother Marcellus joined the Unity Acres community in 1979 at the invitation of the late Father Raymond McVey. He shared his life with the men at Unity Acres in Orwell and served them in many capacities for most of the succeeding 29 years. Unity Acres is Catholic Worker residence which has served for decades as a home for homeless men.
Bill worked many long hours in the Medical Appointments Office at Unity Acres, arranging for medical care for residents, accompanying them to appointments, assisting with applications for medical benefits, and communicating with hospitals and doctor’s offices. He tirelessly helped the residents of Unity Acres in countless ways, always putting the needs of others before his own. He had a quality of making everyone he met feel welcome and very special to him.
During the calling hours and the funeral, Brother Marcellus’ body was dressed in the habit of a Franciscan friar, as he was laid out in the casket. His habit fittingly represented Bro. Marcellus’ love of God, and love of God’s people, especially the poor, and his full devotion to a life of service to others.
A Mass of the Resurrection for Bro. Marcellus was celebrated at Sacred Heart Chapel at Unity Acres on July 23, with Father Robert S. Jones officiating.
The chapel was filled to capacity with friends, co-workers, family members and residents of Unity Acres. Bill was remembered at Mass by co-workers, friends and family members for his patience, his devotion and dedication, his sense of humor and many other fine qualities, and many were moved to tears at various moments during Mass. He was laid to rest at St. Martin de Porres Cemetery on the grounds of Unity Acres.