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Msgr. Brockhaus was ‘role model of kindness and compassion’

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IN MEMORIAM: Msgr. Edward Brockhaus, a beloved retired pastor, died May 3. (Credit: Denis Grasska)

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SAN DIEGO — Msgr. Edward Brockhaus, a “towering presence” in the Diocese of San Diego, died May 3. He was 85.

Born in Cincinnati, “Ned” Brockhaus was ordained to the priesthood for the San Diego Diocese on March 19, 1964, and made a monsignor on Dec. 16, 1988.

He served in parishes across the region, and became a role model and friend to young priests. In retirement, he wrote a series of humor books, which he distributed for free; he often included a donation envelope for a worthy charity.

“Msgr. Ned Brockhaus was my pastor at St. John of the Cross,” said Marioly Galván, diocesan chancellor and director of pastoral ministries. “He was beloved for his welcoming personality. He often began his homilies with a joke that drew giggles and smiles from the congregation. His towering presence was no match to the size of his servant heart.”

In 2019, The Southern Cross reported on Msgr. Brockhaus’ books, which were filled with the jokes and anecdotes that he had collected over the years, paired with his watercolor paintings.

The first of these books, titled “Sunday Stories: A Collection of Tales, Humorous & Otherwise, From 50 Years in the Priesthood,” was released in 2015.

The article also noted that, in his retirement, Msgr. Brockhaus assisted at Holy Family Parish and served as the retired priests’ representative on the Diocesan Presbyteral Council.

Father Peter Escalante, who has succeeded Msgr. Brockhaus as representative for retired priests, recalled his own early years of priesthood and how he and his generation viewed Msgr. Brockhaus.

“He was one of the priests that we all looked up to as a real model of kindness and compassion, particularly towards the poor,” he said. “He was always a lot of fun to be with and was very kind to the young priests and all of his brother priests in general.”

Father Escalante described the late monsignor as “a bright light among the priests of the Diocese of San Diego.” Msgr. Brockhaus was “always available to them” and was “a very caring and compassionate advocate for priests after they had retired.”

Of Msgr. Brockhaus’ relationship with the lay faithful, he said, “He was always just a very caring and compassionate pastor … He was very good with the young, as well as the old.”

After a series of parish assignments as an assistant pastor or priest in residence, Msgr. Brockhaus was made a pastor for the first time at Our Lady of Angels Parish, where he served from 1976 to 1986.

He was later pastor of St. Jude Shrine of the West Parish, from 1986 to 1997, and St. John of the Cross Parish, Lemon Grove, from 1997 to 2010. He retired from active ministry on July 1, 2010.

In a letter to priests, Cardinal Robert W. McElroy described Msgr. Brockhaus’ death as “a great loss” for the diocese.

Msgr. Brockhaus, he wrote, “radiated a love for the sacraments, a delight in his priesthood, an abiding sense of humor and the beauty of creation, and a deep commitment to ministry with the poor.”

A Memorial Mass was celebrated May 13 at Holy Family Parish.

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