After years in ministry, retired brother needs kidney transplant

By Dan Russo
Witness Editor

DSC_0199BALLTOWN — After a long and fruitful ministry of serving others in the education field and at the parish level, Brother Stephen William Markham, a consecrated religious, is back in the community where he grew up. Now retired at age 72 due to health issues, he is in need of a kidney.

“It’s good to be back in this area,” said Brother Stephen of returning to live in the Rickardsville/Balltown section of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.

Brother Stephen is now again a member of the St. LaSalle Pastorate, a group of parishes for which he had been pastoral administrator years ago.

“In a parish, you get to know families and the families are still there,” he said.

Brother Markham is now near relatives and friends, having grown up on a farm outside Rickardsville. He attended the parish school attached to St. Joseph, Rickardsville, and graduated from Holy Cross High School, Holy Cross, in 1962. From there, he joined the DeLaSalle Christian Brothers at St. Mary’s College (now University), in Winona, Minnesota, where he received the name Brother Stephen William.

Within the archdiocese, Brother Stephen was pastoral associate at St. Joseph, Bellevue, and pastoral administrator at St. Catherine, St. Donatus and LaSalle Pastorate, which includes parishes in Balltown, Holy Cross, Luxemburg, Rickardsville and Sherrill. He was also a teacher and administrator at Beckman Catholic High School in Dyersville. The pastorate ironically bears the name of the founder of Brother Stephen’s order, because the people there selected St. Jean-Baptiste de La Salle to be their patron saint when the pastorate was formed, according to Brother Stephen.

The brother holds a doctorate in church leadership and non-public school education and has worked in many administrative positions both within his religious order and at educational institutions, including as vice provincial and as vice president of St. Mary’s College.

“I was always drawn to education, partly because of the Franciscan sisters who taught me at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Rickardsville and Holy Cross High School,” he said.

His health came to the forefront in the past year, when the chronic glomerilo-nephritis, a kidney disease he was diagnosed with at age 14, reactivated. This past May, the brother’s kidneys failed, and he is now on dialysis for four hours, three times a week. He will continue to do this for the rest of his life if he does not get a transplant. He officially retired July 1, 2015, after being on medical leave for several months.

After a thorough evaluation at Mayo Clinic, Brother Stephen has been cleared for a live donor transplant.

“The doctors tell me transplant patients usually live longer and have a better quality of life,” said Brother Markham. “If it doesn’t happen, I’ll continue with dialysis.”

Brother Stephen is keeping his spirits up and relying on his faith — vowing to carry on to the best of his ability, no matter what happens.

“I take it one day at a time and praise God for every one,” he said.

If you would be open to being tested as a kidney donor for Brother Stephen, call Mayo Clinic at 866-227-1569. Tell them you are calling in regard to “William Markham’s” need for a transplant. (The brother’s clinic number is 3-667-956). You will be interviewed and told how to proceed. Brother Stephen need not know that you called unless you want to tell him.

Brother Stephen’s insurance would cover all expenses. Please note that for insurance and medical purposes at Mayo Clinic, Brother Stephen is known as “William Markham,” because William is his legal birth name, as opposed to his religious name of “Stephen.”

You can call the Mayo number listed above just for information or feel free to call Brother Stephen directly at 563-580-6930.

This story is provided courtesy of The Witness, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Dubuque.