Brother Clarence Schenk, FSC from Cathedral’s class of 1950 was a beloved member of the Saint Mary’s community, where he was fondly remembered as the College’s unofficial film historian. He owned a collection of 300-400 films, which he shared with students and community members in the small movie theater he built in the Brothers’ residence. While the converted parlor only seated nine, Brother Clarence, an engineer who was handy with tools, ensured the comfort of the theater audience with a surround-sound audio system, a 25-foot digital projection screen, padded seats, and, of course, popcorn.
“Over the last several years, after he returned to the College as a retired Brother, he became a member of the Joseph Alemany Community of Brothers, said Alemany Community Director Bother Michael Meister (Vice Principal at CHS in the 1970s). “Among the greater SMC community, I am sure he is remembered for The Brother Clarence Theater, where he enjoyed showing not only blockbuster films on the big screen, but films with a wide variety of educational and inspirational themes for faculty, staff, and students.”
Brother Clarence was born in Los Angeles in 1932 and would attend Santa Teresita elementary. His love of film began, in large part, because his hometown included Hollywood. “What else was there to do in the 1940s and ’50s?” he said. “Our entertainment was going to the movie theaters.” He also worked in a movie theater as an usher after school and weekends when he was a freshman at Cathedral High School. He went on to become a Christian Brother and was also an alumnus of Saint Mary’s, graduating in 1954.
During his 65 years as a Christian Brother he taught in several of the Brothers’ high schools in California, including De La Salle High School, St Mary’s College High School, Christian Brothers High School, La Salle High School, and his alma mater, Cathedral High School. Brother Michael Meister, also a former principal at De La Salle High, recalled the technical changes that occurred after Brother Clarence joined the faculty. “Within a short time, the entire school was wired for closed-circuit TV and every classroom had a set mounted high in one of the corners.”
As a member of Saint Mary’s department of Communication, Brother Clarence helped establish a campus cable TV system, complete with a mobile production van and huge satellite dish. “In many ways, he was ahead of his time,” said Brother Michael, who recalled evenings pinging Brother Clarence over large modems and TRS-80s—a late 1970s computer system. “We were texting long before cell phones or Skype.”