Fr. Peter Brown died Aug. 25, 1943 at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN after a short illness. He was 64.
Known as Fr. Brown or Father Pete to his confreres and friends, he was born Dec. 12, 1879 in Marion, Ohio. Early in his childhood, the family moved to Chicago, establishing their home in the Holy Name Cathedral parish.
It was under the careful guidance of the Viatorians at the Cathedral school that his vocation was nurtured. He entered the novitiate of the Clerics of St. Viator in 1895, which was then located in Chicago at the corner of Belmont and Crawford Avenues.
Fr. Pete pronounced his vows on July 2, 1898 and his perpetual profession on July 4, 1907.
He received his classical, philosophical and theological training at St. Viator College in Bourbonnais, IL. Of his extracurricular activities, probably one that brought him the most publicity was the management of the college baseball teams – whose victories over famous university and college teams made them almost legendary.
In June of 1905, Fr. Pete was conferred a Bachelor of Arts degree. After completing his seminary courses he was ordained to the priesthood on Sept. 5, 1908 by Bishop Peter J. Muldoon in St. Charles Church in Chicago.
His first assignment after ordination was to the faculty of St. Viator College, where he worked faithfully for many years. When the Viatorians entered into the American mission field, Fr. Pete was entrusted with the formation and organization of the first missionary band of the province.
In 1911, he was sent to the Apostolic Mission House in Washington DC in preparation of these new responsibilities. After a year in missionary activity under the direction of the Paulists, Fr. Pete returned to organize a small number of confreres for this work.
From the outset, God blessed the labors of Fr. Pete and his co-workers with success. They worked in Chicago, Peoria and other Illinois cities as well as in the states of Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, the Dakotas and Montana.
His whole-hearted devotion to missionary work eventually undermined his health, making it impossible to continue. In 1916, with the approval of his provincial, he accepted an invitation from the Bishop of Winona to assume the pastorate of a small rural parish – St. Bridget’s Church in Simpson, MN – where he ministered for 27 years until his death.
Funeral services were held at St. Bridget’s Church in Simpson, MN and burial took place in an adjoining churchyard.
The solemn Mass of Requiem was celebrated by the Rev. John T. Lies, a former altar boy and protégé of Fr. Brown’s, in the presence of Rev. Leo Binz, coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Winona, some ninety members of the diocesan clergy and a large assembly of past and present parishioners. The funeral sermon was preached by the Rev. John P. O’Mahoney, CSV, a life long friend of Fr. Brown and his provincial superior for many years.
Taken from an obituary in the 1943 Annuaire – a publication of the Viatorian General Direction, pp. 61-69