Friday, May 12, 2017

History of the Latin Mass in Milwaukee: Fr. Lawrence Brey

As I have started to research the Latin Mass community in Milwaukee it has become apparent that the continued offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass according to the Ancient Rite nearly died out, but for a few priests and of course the laity who left everything and were persecuted for their adherence to the Ancient Rite.

Many Catholic historians in Milwaukee will know the name Fr. Hugh Wish, who I hope to talk about as I do more research, but few are familiar with Fr. Lawrence Brey. Fr. Brey was a true champion of the Latin Mass. Along with Fr. Joseph Cunningham, Fr. Brey is known as "Our Saint" to the Original Latin Mass community in Milwaukee.

What follows is part of his story.  I will be saving some of the information I have from his friends for a book I am working on. You can find pieces of his work online as well.

And when the liturgical changes first occurred, Fr. Brey was assigned to St. Bernadette's Church, out on Denver. He had been a long time associate at St. Rose, on 31st and Michigan.The Pastor there asked Archbishop Cousin in October to put off all of the initial changes in the liturgy until May of 1964.

He went from St. Bernadette's, being transferred to St. Mary's in South Milwaukee. Then he spent two years at St. Rita’s. And then he went back to St. Bernadette and was assigned as chaplain to the detention center of Milwaukee lasting until 1969, and at which time , Bishop Atkielski was the auxiliary bishop of Milwaukee, who was Father Brey’s great defender died. And when his appointment came up for renewal in 1971, the archdiocese would not give him an assignment and he became a priest on the road.

Fr. Brey would regularly offer mass in the city when he would come in at a few priest friends houses. And the word just went out that he was in town. And remember that Fr. Brey had lived in LA for a while, but then he just ran the circuit. He would go everywhere from California to Minnesota, the Dakotas, Montana, the northwestern states. He was doing that for 15 years. And when he came back to Milwaukee, he was living with Fr. Kunz, the priest that was murdered in 1998 in Dane County. He had just left and they got him a sweet of rooms at the cousins center. Bishop Scalba, arranged that everyday Father could say his Mass in one of those side chapels behind the Mater Christi chapel. One of his brother retired priests that came down from the start of Mass till we forcibly had him removed, just viciously swore and cursed in the most vile language possible at Fr. Brey during Mass. This was in 1998,  He stayed at the Cousins Center another two months until he could not take it anymore. Went back to St. Cloud, and then again Milwaukee in 2003, and that is where some of you have meet him for one Sunday. Fr. Brey never received clearance to say Mass in his archdiocese afterwards. But one Sunday, the third Sunday of Lent, he did appear at Mass, but the great patron of Fr. Brey, who was going to see him daily at St. Camillas was Fr. Joe Cunningham. He went to see Fr. Brey as often as he could.

I found one of his sermons, and linked it HERE.  The quality gets better as it goes

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