In Remembrance

Brown, Kirby


 St. Mary's Church, where Kirby had served as pastor from 1976-82 and continued as a member with his wife Olivia during his 30 years of married life, was packed for his funeral Mass on Oct. 7, 2018.

Prior to retirement he worked for Catholic Community Services managing large low income hotels. In retirement he was an active Food Bank volunteer and member of St. Vincent de Paul.

A beautiful liturgy authentically captured the life and legacy of Kirby. His younger brother Paul brought much laughter with memories of following Kirby at St. Patrick's Grade School in Tacoma and getting extra consideration for being the brother of such an ideal student now studying for Priesthood. He remembered outings with Kirby when Kirby would insist on all in the car reciting the rosary on the way about devout ! He also delighted in getting Kirby laughing so hysterically that Kirby would be crying and begging him to stop his barrage of humor. Kirby's stepson Fred praised Kirby as a loving father and devoted grandfather.

The memorial celebration brought together people from various phases of Kirby's life including members of his seminary class. Gene Morris and wife Margaret; Don Murphy and Lynn; Fr. John Renggli; Dick Eberle; Mike Phalen who did a day trip from Spokane to participate; Pat Callahan and Julie who sang in the choir and prepared 4 photo posters on different facets of Kirby's life journey. Fr. Bill Heric also attended as did Mike "OB" O'Brien and Jack Mitchell.

The Mass was followed by a bountiful luncheon reception for the 300+ guests in the school hall. More tributes to Kirby were shared at the "open mike" including the attached "Ballad of Kirby Brown" that Pat Callahan, drawing on skills from seminary "slop shows", created initially for Kirby's 50th Birthday party and expanded for this occasion.

Pat Callahan

Reflection on my life as a priest--Catholic World

Kirby Brown wrote about his experience in the Catholic World in a 2012 autobiographical reflection.  He was in Rome studying for the priesthood during the last two sessions of Vatican II.
"Over time that Council profoundly impacted the life of every Catholic throughout the world.....Returning home in 1968 I focused my ministray as a priest on helping Catholic Church change come about.  I kept hoping for even more developments such as allowing married priests and women priests, greater acceptance of divorced Catholics, more openness toward gays and lesbians, approval of birth control, and more democratic ways of decision making.
He got involved in the peace movement, nuclear disarmament, civil rights and the global women's movement....he eventually volunteered for a 5 year stint as a Maryknoll associate in the high Peruvian Andes.
"By this time, a new Pope, John Paul II was effectively stifling many of the advances of the Vatican II.  He emphasized his own authority over other bishops.  He cracked down on innovative theologans and bishops' groups around the world......Back in Seattle Archbishop Hunthausen and his many supporters were fighting against Rome's moves to limit his authority.  I began to see that my future in the priesthood would no longer be one of helping the Church change.  I would have to live with and defend many teachings and practices that I felt were out of date.  I saw little hope for more change in my lifetime.  This wasn't the priesthood I had signed up for."
Brown realized that he needed to stop trying to change the Church and focus instead on personal change.  Celibacy has always been a burden for him. "But now I felt the type of priesthood I was facing wasn't worth paying that price anymore".




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