The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History

By Michael V. Namorato | Go to book overview

4
Joseph Bernard Brunini: A Native Son

I now prophecy [sic] that if God gives him the grace and strength to be ordained, he will one day be the greatest priest ever turned out in Mississippi.

--Rev. M. A. MacHale to Mrs. Brunini1

Father MacHale wrote this letter in May 1930 just as young Joseph Brunini was about to enter the North American College in Rome. Realizing the rigors of seminary training, the long separation from his family, and the discipline required to pass his studies, Father MacHale still knew that this young man had a special destiny. In fact, his destiny would be such as to have a significant impact not only on his local town and parish but ultimately on his state, country, and the church itself. Whether it was in his handling of race relations, his implementation of Vatican II reforms, or his call for the creation of a new diocese, Joseph Brunini definitely impacted everyone and everything around him. The church and Mississippi would be different after he appeared on the scene. In doing so, he proved Father MacHale's prophecy to be true--he did become the most influential priest ever turned out in Mississippi.

THE BRUNINI FAMILY

Joseph Bernard Brunini was born on July 24, 1909, in Vicksburg, Mississippi. He was the sixth child of John B. Brunini and Blanche Stein Brunini. His oldest sister, Beatrice Mary, a favorite of his father's, died tragically of a ruptured appendix on June 13, 1913, in Vicksburg just as she graduated from high school. His oldest brother, John Gilland Brunini, was nearly ten years older than Joseph. He left Vicksburg, attended Georgetown University, and, much to his father's chagrin, made a life of his own in New York. Affectionately known as "Brother," he went on to become an editor of Commonweal, founder and director of the Catholic Poetry Society, editor of Spirit, organizer of the 1939 "Temple of Religion" at the

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The Catholic Church in Mississippi, 1911-1984: A History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Notes xix
  • Acknowledgments xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 18
  • Part I - The Hierarchy 21
  • Notes 25
  • 1 - John E. Gunn, 1911-1924 29
  • 2 - Richard O. Gerow: The Natchez Years, 1924-1948 51
  • Notes 68
  • 3 - Richard O. Gerow: The Jackson Years, 1948-1966 75
  • Notes 93
  • 4 - Joseph Bernard Brunini: A Native Son 101
  • 5: Joseph Bernard Brunini 131
  • Part II - Clergy, Religious, and Laity 153
  • 6 - Clergy and Religious, 1911-1984 157
  • 7: Laity 183
  • 8: Outreach (Evangelization) 211
  • 9: Mississippi and Southern Catholicism 243
  • Epilogue 253
  • Notes 258
  • Appendix 1 Native Priests 259
  • Appendix 2 Priests in the Diocese, 1911-1984 261
  • Appendix 3 Irish Priests 285
  • Appendix 4 Religious Orders 289
  • Appendix 5 PARISHES, 1911-1984 293
  • Appendix 6 Schools 297
  • Selected Bibliography 301
  • Index 307
  • About the Author 315
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