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Remembering Father David Brown, O.S.M.

by Dan Brown

In 1965 I visited Dave at St. Philip Benizi parish on the near north side, Cabrini-Greene. As we walked around outside Dave said something like, “Faith doesn’t mean a whole lot here. Charity is a dirty word. If we can do anything, it is to give some people a bit of hope.”

Before Dave got his degree in religious education, he got one in Philosophy, which he taught for several years. I remember the course in logic where he said, “Logic works everywhere and it’s important for everything—except for life.”

I always thought that Dave was a good preacher and I asked him about this one time. He said that when he was at St. Philip’s, the parish was then almost entirely African-American, but for a long time before that it was the home parish to many Sicilian and Sicilian-Americans who had long since left the area. But these former parishoners wanted to be buried from St. Philip’s. So once or twice a week—about a hundred funerals a year—Dave would have to preach to a group of people he really didn’t know. As a result he said that he would preach to himself. If something made sense to him, someone else might profit from it, too.

When Mike Keating was leaving the Order, he stopped off to see Dave. One of the reasons he was leaving, he said, was “No one cries at a Servite’s funeral.” Dave thought about it and said, “I think the Servites have learned since Mike left.”

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