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150 Years in Memphis

It's a milestone year for the Christian Brothers, who arrived in Memphis in 1871 following the Great Chicago Fire.

Join us throughout the year as we commemorate the lasting imprint the Christian Brothers have made on generations of Brothers' Boys and the greater Memphis community since their arrival 150 years ago.

The CBHS family is in a class of its own, and we are proud of the difference its members have made living out our Lasallian core principles to improve the industries, communities, and lives they touch every day.

Leading up to our 150th anniversary, we are highlighting 150 difference makers with ties to the Christian Brothers in Memphis. Join us in celebrating them!

Msgr. Val Handwerker III ’66

Pastor, St. Patrick's Catholic Church

"One of the two finest professors I’ve ever had was Brother Stephen O’Malley, FSC. (the other being a professor in graduate school).  I took Freshman Algebra from Brother Stephen. We had 2 ½ hours of Algebra homework every night, and a quarter-page, or half-page quiz at the start of every class.  He had a system of taking into account student participation in each Algebra class.  It was so exciting, I being on the edge of my desk seat, every class day.  His teaching taught me not only Algebra, but more importantly, how to think critically. 

Also, during my Freshman year, on Saturday mornings, Brother Stephen taught—for those who wanted to take it—a few sessions entitled, “How to Study.”  I took that voluntary course and, to this day, I remember some of the study tools which Brother Stephen taught.  I’ve used them throughout my academic career. Besides being an exceptional teacher, Brother Stephen was a model Christian Brother in every respect.  He manifested his love for Jesus and for the Catholic faith in every dimension of his life.  He was a grand role model for me.  I am very grateful for Brother Stephen.” 

Father Val was born in Memphis to Kathleen and Vallie Handwerker. He graduated from Little Flower Elementary School in 1962. After graduating from CBHS, he earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Bernard College in 1970. Later he received his master’s and Doctorate degrees in Sacred Theology from Lateran University in Rome, Italy.  

Father Val was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Memphis in 1974. Over the past 47 years, he has served various parishes in West Tennessee. Father Val was a community organizer for a Memphis affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), founded by Saul Alinsky.  

In 2009, Father Val became Monsignor Val, an honor bestowed on him by the Pope at the request of Bishop J. Terry Steib of Memphis, but he still prefers the title Father Val.

In October of 2013, Father Val received the honor and title of AFSC by the Christian Brothers.