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