The Father Brown Story

Father Dennis Brown, OMV |
January 13, 2019


In the year 2000, Providence led a bright young Priest into our family’s life. At that time I had just finished reading and re-reading the books “With God In Russia” and “He Leadeth Me”, by Father Walter J. Ciszek SJ, who survived 23 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps of Siberia. One day, a Parish Priest walked up to me at Church and mentioned that a new Priest, Father Dennis Brown, had recently taken up residence at our Rectory. He knew I would like to meet Father Brown because he had actually received Spiritual direction from Fr. Ciszek after his release from the Soviet Union. It didn’t take too long before Jean and I realized that Father Brown’s background of Theological studies was studded with a literal "Who’s Who" of Catholic luminaries. This newly arrived Priest had also, we soon learned, personally met and studied under none other than Archbishop Fulton J .Sheen, the peripatetic Priest from El Paso, Illinois, who at one time hosted "Life is Worth Living", the #1 TV show in America, reaching over 30 million viewers. It is our belief and prayer that Archbishop Fulton Sheen will be canonized one day. What follows is Father Dennis Brown’s generous and lasting gift to anyone who finds their way to Marian Memories--a recollection of his time with this future Saint.

Meeting Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

In 1975 I met Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen for the first time in his residence on the upper East Side of Manhattan.

I was in the process of converting to the Catholic Church and a mentor of mine suggested I contact Bishop Sheen. I did not know who he was but was informed that he was famous, so I got his address out of "Who's Who" and wrote him informing him that I desired to become "a Catholic, a priest, and an hermit monk."

Noting my enthusiasm he wrote back asking for my telephone number and called inviting me out to NYC to visit him.

Bishop Sheen told me when we met that he had forgotten he had an important speaking engagement in Florida, but this generous charitable man had cancelled it because he knew I was on my way. That one meeting changed my life radically through a series of rippling consequences culminating in my ordination to the priesthood by Pope Saint John Paul II.

Bishop Sheen sent me back to Michigan to complete my college (I wanted to just be off to a mountain to become a hermit). We carried on a correspondence and he sent me several books from 1975 until his illness, the last letter coming in 1977.

At our first meeting as I was leaving he said, "Wait a minute" and gave me a book that had just been published, Father John A. Hardon's Catholic Catechism. He hesitantly said, "I keep buying this and giving it away, but OK here" and handed it to me. That culminated in my going to NYC and studying with, working for, and getting spiritual direction from Father Hardon and and many other worthies -- all resulting from Bishop Sheen giving me that one book. As the founder of the OMVs knew, one good book can radically change a person's life. The years at the Pontifical Institute of Advanced Studies in Catholic Doctrine with Father Hardon and others were unspeakably rich. I and 6 other students got a residence together and it became a center for "Yukkies," Young Urban Catholics, in NYC during those years. Most of us original seven became religious and priests (I entered the consecrated state in the religious congregation of the Obates of the Virign Mary).

I could write a large book about all the graced events interspersed in the above very brief description.

About the Author:
Father Dennis Brown, OMV