First Choice

Brother Joe Fund for the Student Center

For his affection to BU students

About the Student Center

The University is planning to construct a Multi-Purpose Building Containing: Fitness Center, Visitors Reception Center, 150 Seat Theater/Lecture Hall, Parking Facilities and a Rooftop Terrace that Adjoins the Existing Cafeteria.

This project will provide:

  • Vastly improved fitness facilities that can be used by faculty, staff and students.
  • An appropriate venue where overseas visitors can meet and interact with Student Ambassadors of Bethlehem University.
  • A rooftop terrace that adjoins the existing cafeteria, where students can relax between classes.
  • Relocated and resurface basketball and tennis courts
  • Additional parking space in the basement garage



First Vice Chancellor, Brother Joseph Loewenstein Passes Away

Bethlehem University mourns the death of Brother Joseph Loewenstein, FSC (affectionately known as Brother Joe) the first Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University.

Brother Joe passed away peacefully at the age of 95 on Thursday, 18 February 2021, at the De La Salle Hall Nursing Home for the Brothers in Eastern North America.

Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, Brother Peter Bray, FSC, said “We thank God for the life of Brother Joe and the amazing way he enriched the lives of so many people here at Bethlehem University.”

Brother Joe was a permanent fixture at Bethlehem University for most of its existence – educating thousands of teachers, civil society and business leaders, parents, nurses, scientists, and Church workers. He has been recognized by many for his devoted work in Palestine, particularly with those living in Palestinian refugee camps as he spent over 42 years in Bethlehem.

Brother Joe, you touched the hearts of many of us here at Bethlehem University as well as people in other places where you have served as a Brother. We are grateful to God, to your family, and to you for sharing your life with us and in doing so enriching our lives. We bid you a final farewell filled with fond memories. May you rest in peace.

Brother Joseph Loewenstein was born in Queens, New York, in 1925 where he grew up alongside two siblings during the depression. He attended an elementary school run by Dominican Sisters, the parochial school of the Brooklyn diocese of Elmhurst, Queens. The diocese offered scholarships for students to its secondary school, Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, which was run by the De La Salle Christian Brothers.

At 15 years old, Brother Joe left home to go to a training school for boys interested in joining the Brothers. He graduated in 1943 and went to Novitiate for one year’s training in the Brotherhood, after which he enrolled in Catholic University in Washington D.C. His class was sent to various schools after three years, before completing their Bachelor’s degrees, since there was a shortage of teachers during World War II.

Brother Joe’s genuine interest in and compassion with students stems from his time at Lincoln Hall Correctional School for Boys, where he worked for four years between 1956 and 1960.

Before coming to Bethlehem, he had completed his doctorate in Education at UCLA, specializing in Administration and Supervision. This topic had garnered his interest while working in Kenya with the Kikuyu tribe at a teachers training school and later as headmaster of a secondary school in the same area. It wasn’t an easy time to be in Kenya, in the aftermath of the Mau Mau uprising and the subsequent independence from colonial Britain.

When Brother Joe came to Bethlehem University in 1975, he was ready for a new challenge. First, he taught for a while without assuming a leadership position, after which he became the first Vice Chancellor and passionately took up leading the new university. Bethlehem University had only opened its doors in 1973 and not all educational facilities were yet on track.

Brother Joe proceeded to enlist new people to lead the faculties and established deanships to decentralize leadership. He also added Nursing to the curriculum after requests from local doctors. Nowadays, the Nursing program is one of Bethlehem University’s most successful programs.

While teaching at Bethlehem University, Brother Joe has also been a member of the CNEWA family for a long time. For several years, in the 1980’s, he served as the director of CNEWA’s regional office in Jerusalem.

From the day he arrived, Brother Joe’s passion was making university-level education available to young Palestinians.  He loved working with individual students as a tutor and mentor, and he did everything he could to procure financial aid to help those students most in need.

In 2013, Brother Joe was honored with a Doctor of Humanities, honoris causa from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. The fellow Lasallian university conferred the doctorates during its celebration of De La Salle Week and its founding 100 years ago.

At the 2017 graduation ceremony, the mayor of Bethlehem made Brother Joe an honorary citizen of Bethlehem – his second home. Brother Joe received a standing ovation from students and families alike in tribute to his dedicated service to the community.

In August 2017, Brother Joe took a very difficult decision for him which was to enter De La Salle Hall for elderly and physically ill Brothers. In his farewell note to the Bethlehem University community, Brother Joe wrote “I am sincerely grateful to all of you, faculty, staff, students for your concern for me and for your friendship over the years. I will never forget the experience of living in Palestine and working with you all these years particularly these last couple of years when I began to show my age.”

In recognition of his extraordinary service to Bethlehem University, Brother Joe was invested as an Honorary Patron of the Bethlehem University Foundation in 2018.

Letters of Condolences

Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli, Apostolic Delegate

Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari , President CNEWA/PM

Dear Br. Peter and Members of the International Board of Regents:

Brother Peter, thank you for sharing with us the news of the death of Brother Joseph Loewenstein, FSC, the first Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University.

Please accept the sincere condolences and prayers of the entire CNEWA/PM family. CNEWA/PM extends its prayerful and hope-filled solidarity to you, the De LaSalle Christian Brothers at Bethlehem University and throughout the world, the faculty, the students, the staff, the graduates, and all those in and around the town of Bethlehem, where at the graduation ceremony of 2017, Br. Joe was declared an “Honorary Citizen” of the town. Br. Joe will also be remembered by the people throughout Palestine and Israel. He will be remembered by the many groups who met him during tours of the campus of Bethlehem University (BU). This was my experience as a seminary rector when I accompanied classes of seminarians to the campus of BU. Br. Joe’s welcome, explanation, and reflection on the chapel was always our first stop on any visit.

Your obituary which accompanied your notice of his death was itself a beautiful and powerful resounding tribute to Br. Joseph. Beyond his doctorate in Education from UCLA, Br. Joseph’s passion and dedication to the mission of BU for over forty years was a personal legacy and a great tribute to the commitment and passion of the ongoing history of the De LaSalle Christian Brothers! Rooted deep in your tradition, he was open to the needs of a changing world, e.g. his initiative on behalf of the Nursing faculty.

Br. Peter, as you pointed out in your reflection, Br. Joseph was also a member of CNEWA/PM. In the 1980s, he served as our regional director for the office in Jerusalem. Our blog post of 6 January 2017 recognized the love and passion Br. Joe had for the mission of CNEWA and, always, his passion for the De LaSalle tradition at Bethlehem University!

Br. Peter, please be assured of my prayers at Mass for Br. Joseph Loewenstein, FSC, especially here in the chapel of the CNEWA Residence in New York City. You, your community, and Br. Joseph, embody the meaning of Pope Francis’s third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti (3 October 2020), in the promotion of the art of encounter and social friendship. As the pope wrote: “Together, we can seek the truth in dialogue…The process of building fraternity…can only be undertaken by spirits that are free and open to authentic encounters” (Fratelli Tutti, 50).

Br. Peter, as you pointed out, Br. Joseph truly walked in the “footsteps of St. John Baptist De LaSalle.”

Requiescat in pace!


Msgr. Peter I. Vaccari



Tributes to Brother Joe

Mass for Brother Joe

Brother Joe Memorial Mass