Formation: From Toner to Ronan

The legendary Larry Toner retired this year, making way for Brendan Ronan in the role of Formation Director.


The legendary Larry Toner retired this year, making way for Brendan Ronan in the role of Formation Director.

Joseph Beaird, Editor-in-Chief

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Few people at Servite share the unique responsibilities of the Formation Director. This year, theology teacher and Notre Dame fanatic Mr. Brendan Ronan has stepped up to the plate to be the new head of Formation. Ronan has big shoes to fill after the retirement of the legendary Coach Larry Toner.

Mr. Ronan is looking forward to the challenges ahead. He commented, “I am excited for greater responsibility on campus and to help guide the direction of the formation experience for the Servite student body.” Ronan added, “It’s humbling to take on this role and play a part in creating an environment that leads young men to Christ.”

Ronan has no lack of grit; he has been juggling multiple responsibilities for several years. Not only does he guide the Formation program, focusing on the senior class, but Ronan also teaches two theology classes. On top of that, he is focused on building relationships across campus. Every day at break and lunch, you can find Ronan talking to students in Senior Square and checking up on them.

Seeing that we have a new Director of Formation, many are wondering if significant changes are in store. Ronan assures us that that is not in the cards — at least at the moment. “I do not foresee any significant changes to Formation this year,” Ronan said. “We are always adapting and improving what we do.  We want to make sure students are enjoying their time at Servite and being challenged to grow in faith and fraternity.”

From the very beginning, Ronan has had an appreciation for the capability of the Formation program. Ronan recalled, “I clearly remember telling Mr. Brennan when he hired me that I wanted to be involved with Formation.  My approach to teaching theology has always been to address the entire student – body, mind, spirit.”

Ronan has proven himself to be worthy of the task that is leading the Formation program. By examining his career and how he continues to hold himself and others to a Christ-like standard, it is clear he deserves this position. However, some newer members of the Servite community may not know the man who came before him: The iconic Coach Toner.

It is imperative to look back at the Formation program’s history to realize its real purpose and importance. Ever since 2005, Servite has taken pride in its unique program. But how was the program created? Through the consolidated effort of the staff and the spark of one idea, Coach Toner previously led Formation ever since its creation.

Toner emphasized the dual purpose of formation: building faith and relationships. “ By examining what goes into making someone who they are, we realize faith is crucial to cultivate the talents to define a man,” Toner said.

Though most of the student body knows Mr. Toner, his name is unknown to many freshmen. However, the legacy he has left behind is remarkable. What makes Coach Toner so special to the Servite community is the work he has done for Servite in many aspects: teaching languages, coaching football, and most importantly, creating faith-filled leaders.

In Toner’s opinion, Ronan is the perfect man for this job. Toner explains that Ronan “knows the challenges the job has. He is always working on improving himself and others.” The way Ronan conducts himself and acts towards others represents the embodiment of a true Friar.

Above all else, Ronan also seeks to establish that relationship that Coach Toner made so important. He hopes for the students to be empowered by their Formation experience. Ronan states, “I hope students learn that they are good and loved. I want students to recognize their uniqueness as they are made in the image of God. I also want them to answer God’s call to be faith-filled leaders and understand that by living lives marked by honor and love they have the chance to make the world better.” Ronan has a positive leadership mentality that puts no limit on what a man can do. Even after a transition from Toner to Ronan, the Formation program is certainly in good hands.

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