Louis Brodeur

The following obituary is taken from the Oratory Parish Magazine for September 1951.

The sudden death, from heart failure, of Fr. Louis, on July 23rd, was of course a great shock to all of us. He had preached in Church the evening before and so died within twelve hours of having finished his sermon. His doctor, however, was with him at the moment of his decease, though he had been sent for less than an hour before the collapse took place.

It is not the custom of the Fathers of the Oratory to preach panegyrics of one another or to publish character sketches in the Parish Magazine. That Fr. Louis was an active priest is known to the boys and masters of the Grammar School (where lay his chief work), to those who heard him preach and to those who sought his spiritual advice. For the rest, we apply to him the words of S. Paul which, no doubt, he would have applied to himself: “He that judgeth me is the Lord.” But here are the main facts of his life; and these, we feel sure, our readers will like to know.

He was by origin a French-Canadian and was born at Beloeil, in the province of Quebec, in 1898. After receiving his secular education in his own country at the Jesuit College in Montreal, he transferred to France for his ecclesiastical training and entered the celebrated Paris Seminary of S. Sulpice. Ordained in 1925, he was for more than twelve years attached to an interesting group of priests whose mission was to give religious instruction and formation to Parisian boys who were attending non-Catholic Day Schools, known as Lycées and corresponding to our grammar schools, Catholic schools not being available.

Anxious to keep up his English, however, Fr. Louis for many years used to spend his summer vacations in England, usually as the guest of the late Monsignor Marshall (a Birmingham man), at the Cambridge Catholic Rectory. Here our Fr. Joseph Bacchus used to meet Fr. Louis at the Conferences for Higher Studies which were then held annually under the presidency of the Bishop of Northampton. Fr. Louis, however, had always felt an attraction to Newman and the Oratory, and so in the year 1938 he sought and obtained admission to the Birmingham Oratory.

Fr. Louis did not forget his French friends and ex-pupils, and paid visits sometimes to France, but the war and conditions arising from it caused him to be more continuously in England, even during school holidays, than perhaps would otherwise have been the case.

We ask all our readers to pray for the repose of his soul.

A further reminiscence from a correspondent follows.

I was a pupil at St. Philip’s Grammar School from 1944-1951 and Fr. Louis was our chaplain and R.E. teacher. We held him with great affection. He always spoke, taught and preached with a loud French Canadian accent. Often he would say to us “My dear sons somewhere in the world is the girl who will become your wife. Pray for her!”

One day he was preaching in the Oratory (no microphones in those days, not that he needed one) when a child was crying. Eventually the mother started walking down the aisle to take him out. Fr. Louis shouted, “Madam, your child is not disturbing me.” She turned round and replied, “But you’re disturbing him!”

I can remember another time when he was preaching. Gathered below the pulpit were a group of women. He grabbed hold of the pulpit. Looked down at the women and said, “l can’t stand pious women!” He was a larger than life character but loved by all. It was only a few days after I left that he passed away.