Father Neil McBrearty, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1898-1973)

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Born James Joseph McBrearty on November 22, 1898 in Germantown, Pennsylvania outside Philadelphia, he was the son of William J. and Anne J. Mitchell. He attended St, Francis of Assisi Grammar School and High School, Business College and Night School. From 1915 until 1916 he was enrolled at the Passionist Preparatory School located at Baltimore, Maryland. He professed his vows in Pittsburgh on October 7, 1917 and received the religious name Neil. He was ordained in West Hoboken, New Jersey on June 14, 1924 by Bishop Paul J. Nussbaum, C.P. Father McBrearty’s first assignment was professor of moral theology at St. Mary’s Monastery, Dunkirk, New York. In 1925 he was assigned to Rome as the English secretary to Superior General Leo P. Kierkels and held the post until 1930. During this interval of service Father McBrearty attended the Angelicum University and received a Ph.D. and a S.T.D. During the same period he served as General Prefect of Studies (1929) and General Secretary of the Missions (1929). In 1927 Father McBrearty, with the approval of the Passionist Superior General volunteered for the new mission in China and on June 15, 1929, was appointed, but did not ever go to the mission. In 1930 he returned to the United States and was appointed professor of philosophy at St. Paul’s Monastery, Pittsburgh. When, in 1931 Superior General Kierkels was appointed Apostolic Delegate to India and consecrated an Archbishop, Father McBrearty joined Kierkels as his secretary from 1931 to 1952 when the Archbishop retired. It was during this time that the India hierarchy was established and Kierkels was named the first Papal Internuncio to India on July 2, 1948. When Kiekels resigned then Monsignor Giovanni Montini, Substitute Secretary of State and later Pope Paul VI, invited Father McBrearty to remain as a member of the diplomatic service. However, at the urging of Kierkels, McBrearty declined and he continued as Kierkel’s secretary when the latter lived in Rome until his death in 1957. While in Rome, Father McBrearty supervised the building of Kerkel’s residence on the property at Sts. John and Paul. From 1952 until 1958 Father McBrearty was also General Econome for the Passionists and on June 8, 1958 was appointed Vice-Postulator for the cause of Passionist Galileo Nicolini. In July 1958 Father McBrearty returned to the United States and was assigned to St. Michael’s Monastery, Union City. There he was a confessor to priests and laity, econome at the monastery and keeper of the Mass records. On October 27, 1963 he was appointed Vice-postulator for the cause of Dominic Barberi and saw his beatification and oversaw the publication and distribution of devotional literature and collected money for the expenses incurred. In 1966 his health began to weaken and on February 11, 1966 he was assigned to Our Lady of the Isle Monastery, Shelter Island where he was econome, confessor, and keeper of Mass records. In 1970 he had surgery at Sr. Charles Hospital, Port Jefferson and then was transferred to Brighton, Massachusetts where he was a patient at Youville Rehabiltation Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts. After several years of illness as a resident he died in Brighton.