December 3, 2010

Family ties: Priest who is descendant of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Bruté to help with his canonization Cause

Father Guillaume Bruté, a seminary rector in Beirut, Lebanon, left, and Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein pose for a photograph on Nov. 8 in the chancery at the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis. They are holding a portrait of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Guillaume Gabriel Bruté de Rémur, Father Bruté’s great-great-great-great uncle. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

Father Guillaume Bruté, a seminary rector in Beirut, Lebanon, left, and Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein pose for a photograph on Nov. 8 in the chancery at the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis. They are holding a portrait of the Servant of God Bishop Simon Guillaume Gabriel Bruté de Rémur, Father Bruté’s great-great-great-great uncle. (Photo by Mary Ann Wyand)

By Mary Ann Wyand

In many ways, their life journeys are similar.

They were born in France, share the same name, answered God’s call to the priesthood then became missionary priests and seminary educators in faraway countries.

Father Guillaume Bruté and his great-great-great-great-uncle, the Servant of God Bishop Simon Guillaume Gabriel Bruté de Rémur, have much in common even though six generations separate them.

Now that the 18th-century physician, priest, theologian and first bishop of Vincennes is being promoted for sainthood, Father Bruté is interested in helping the Archdiocese of Indianapolis further his Cause from Servant of God to venerable, blessed and saint.

Father Bruté ministers as a seminary rector in Beirut, Lebanon, where he helps form men for the priesthood in Eastern Catholic Churches.

He visited Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein on Nov. 8 at the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis to discuss the Bruté family’s history as well as the progress of the Cause of his ancestor’s hoped-for beatification and canonization.

During his overnight visit, Father Bruté enjoyed staying at the Bishop Simon Bruté College Seminary on Cold Spring Road in Indianapolis.

“I knew that I have in my family one of the first bishops in America,” Father Bruté said during an interview at the archdiocesan chancery.

“As a young boy, I felt that God called me to be a priest,” he said. “I discovered [Bishop Bruté] as a priest and as a missionary figure after I became a priest. I knew about him, but I was not aware of how much he was important for your country, and also how much he was really a testimony of Christ, a witness of Christ. I hope he will be my first family saint.”

Father Bruté is a descendent of Augustine Bruté, Bishop Bruté’s brother, and grew up in Montpellier in southern France. Following his ordination to the diocesan priesthood in Rome, he served as the associate pastor of a parish there for five years.

God also called him to be involved in the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic ecclesial movement formed in response to Vatican Council II and dedicated to the Christian formation of adults.

“It’s a catechumenate, it’s a tool, to help the people to discover [and] to renew the graces of their baptism,” Father Bruté explained. “It’s an initiation to the Christian life that we are doing in parishes.”

This process of Christian renewal is much like mystagogia, he said, which is a period of continuing faith formation for new Catholics after they receive the sacraments of baptism, reconciliation, the Eucharist and confirmation.

“In communion with Pope John Paul II, in 1987 the initiator of this reality [the Neocatechumenal Way] in the Church founded in Rome a seminary for the Diocese of Rome to form missionary priests for the diocese,” he said “I asked to enter in the seminary there. I became a priest from the Diocese of Rome … to be ready to go everywhere the Church needs me.”

In response to Pope John Paul’s call for a “new springtime of evangelization” in the Church, Father Bruté was assigned to serve as the rector of an Eastern Rite seminary in Beirut, where he has ministered for 11 years.

“The [then] vicar of the pope, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, sent me there as a rector of the seminary,” Father Bruté said. “He made a gift to the Eastern Churches because three of the bishops in Lebanon and Egypt wanted to found a seminary like the one I studied at in Rome to help the Eastern Churches to have a missionary spirit, to renew their faith, and to help the Christians to discover how Christian life is much better than culture.”

Melkite Archbishop Elias Chacour founded a similar seminary in Galilee with the goal of helping to keep Christians in the Holy Land.

“I know him very well,” Father Bruté said. “The goal [of the seminaries] is to keep the [Christian] faith alive, and to nurture vocations to the priesthood and religious life.”

Sixteen seminarians are currently in formation at the seminary in Beirut, he said. “Already, we have seven priests ordained that are [ministering] all around the Middle East.”

One priest ministers in the Latin Rite Church in Sudan, he said, and the other priests serve the Eastern Rite Churches in Egypt, Kuwait and Lebanon.

On Dec. 8, Father Brute will participate in an ordination in Sudan.

“One of our seminarians that is a deacon will become a priest for the Diocese of Khartoum,” he said. Three other deacons will be ordained soon for the Syrian Catholic Church in Egypt, the Armenian Catholic Church as a missionary to Argentina and Brazil, and the Melkite Diocese of Sidon and Tyre in Lebanon.

Father Bruté speaks five languages—French, English, Italian, Spanish and Arabic—and is studying German to enhance his missionary work.

He is inspired by reading about his great-great-great-great uncle’s love for God and dedication to missionary work in America.

“I am touched by how much some points of contact we have together from our history,” Father Bruté said. “He was full of zeal and desire to convert the people, to help them to live a life with Christ. That was the most important thing for him.”

Bishop Bruté’s holy life was both a witness to and reminder that “our first mission is to be a disciple of Christ and to live with Christ,” he said. “I think that Bishop Bruté had a lot to teach us about this because he had a lot of missions in his life, but for him the most important mission was to pray, to be with the Scriptures, and even when he was making long trips to visit people he was always praying the breviary.

“It’s amazing how much he gave importance to his private life with Jesus Christ,” Father Bruté said. “… His love for Christ was the source of all his life, all his pastoral work, and he was ready to accept everything [he faced] because of Christ. I think that was because he had a really deep relationship with Christ as a person. Christ was very present in his life and everything he did—when he was teaching, giving Communion, hearing confessions.

“… I was very touched by the capacity, the ability, of Bishop Bruté to leave everything behind him to do the will of God,” Father Bruté said. “He left his family to go to Paris to study medicine. He left medicine to become a priest. He left France to be a missionary in America.”

Msgr. Frederick Easton, vicar judicial of the archdiocese, said he and Father Peter Marshall, the vice postulator of the Cause, appreciate Father Bruté’s help.

“He spoke about how his own family is energized about the Cause of Bishop Bruté,” Msgr. Easton said. “They are very much interested in it, and we believe there is a very good chance they will be able to be of practical assistance to us in helping to get his writings transcribed so they can be ready to be sent to Rome. This event of his coming [to Indianapolis] has added a quality that we haven’t had so far, a quality that we’ve needed, for the [Bruté] family to be represented here in his person, to help us move the Cause forward.”

Father Bruté and his family are praying for the Cause of their ancestor, who was a very humble man and would not have sought any recognition.

“His canonization will help the American Catholics to discover again their roots [in the faith],” Father Bruté said, “and how much it is important to be Christians and to have this relationship with Jesus Christ.” †

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