|Birth: ||May 30, 1848|
|Death: ||Apr. 8, 1878|
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Fr Algernon Brown, CSP, was born in Cobham Surrey, England. He was the oldest son of a prominent British physician. He converted to Catholicism in 1866 at the Brompton Oratory and, determined to be ordained, studied theology at St. Edmund's College in Prior Park.
In 1871 he and his younger brother Louis – who would also become a Paulist priest – emigrated to the U.S. and settled in Cincinnati. After developing a friendship with Archbishop Francis Purcell he was accepted into the Archdiocese and ordained a priest on May 25, 1872.
In the winter of 1873 Walter Elliott gave a mission in the diocese and Fr. Brown (and his brother) were so impressed they entered the Society soon after. Archbishop Purcell gave his release reluctantly, presciently noting that Fr. Brown's health was already frail and he hoped he would be up to the rigors of the missions.
Proving the Archbishop correct Algernon was unable to shoulder a heavy workload. He was assigned to St. Paul the Apostle parish on West 59th Street in New York, and helped develop the popular five minute sermons of the Sunday Mass.
By the spring of 1877 his health was in obvious decline and he traveled to England for one last visit home and to pray for healing. When he returned to New York his condition worsened until he collapsed during Mass on December 8, 1877.
Pneumonia overtook him soon after and he died four months later. At the time of his death he was 29 years old and had been a member of the Paulists for four years. His brother Louis would die two years later; both died at the age of 29 and during Holy Week.
The unidentified author of the Preface of a collection of brief sermons by Paulists entitled "Five Minute Sermons, Volume I" (New York: Frederick Pustet and Co., 1879) wrote this about Fr. Algernon Brown, CSP:
The merit of devising and first carrying into execution this excellent plan of preaching the Five-Minute Sermons at Low Mass belongs to the late Rev. Algernon Brown, CSP. It is quite proper to praise the works of one who has departed this life, even though he was one of our own [Paulist] society. Many of the sermons written by Father Brown and contained in the present volume are masterpieces in the art of miniature discourse. They are not fragments or sections of sermons, reading like pages taken from longer discourses or meditations, but genuine sermonettes, each one complete and perfect in itself. They are marked, also, by a grave and solemn earnestness remarkable in the utterances of so very young a priest, and seeming to be like a shadow from a very near proximity to the eternal world, cast over his spirit as he rapidly drew near to the goal of his appointed course. It will surely be deemed appropriate, and prove agreeable to the readers of this volume of sermons, that a few lines should be consecrated to the memory of the one who may justly be called its author, although the greater portion of its actual contents came from others who succeeded to him in the task from which he was called away at so early a period of his sacerdotal life.
Father Algernon Brown, the son of a respectable physician who is still living and resides in the Isle of Wight, was born at Cobham, Surrey, England, May 30, 1848. He was bred in the Established Church of England, and during his early youth was educated at a ritualistic school in Brighton. His tastes and predilections were ecclesiastical, and he entered warmly into the study and practice of the doctrinal, moral, and liturgical views and ways of the Anglican ritualists. At the age of eighteen he was received into the Catholic Church by Father Knox, of the Oratory, and went first to St. Edmund's College, afterwards to Prior Park, in order to prepare himself for the priesthood.
After nearly completing his course, and having already received minor orders, he came in 1871, with two younger brothers, both converts, and one of the two an ecclesiastical student, to the United States, and was ordained priest by the most Rev. Archbishop Purcell in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, May 25, 1872.
In the year 1874 he was received as a member of the Congregation of Paulists after a year's novitiate. During the four years which elapsed between this period and that of his death, Father Brown suffered continually, and often severely, from ill health, yet nevertheless continued to labor bravely and cheerfully, beyond his strength, until he was actually overpowered by fatal disease. His special department of work lay in the direction of the sacristy and of the ceremonies at the public offices of divine worship, and the management of the devout confraternities established in the parish. His accurate knowledge of the rubrics, ceremonial, and sacred chant, his ardent zeal for the order and decorum of the divine service, and his untiring assiduity in the work assigned him, were equally valuable to the religious community of which he was a member, and edifying to the people.
After the Easter of 1877 his failing health obliged him to make a visit to his native England and his paternal home as the last hope of prolonging his life. In the following autumn he returned, enjoying a considerable but only temporary amelioration in his physical condition, which soon after began to grow sensibly worse. On the Feast of the Immaculate Conception he attempted for the last time by a heroic effort to say Mass, but was prevented by a fainting fit which prostrated him at the foot of the alter as he was commencing the Introit. From this day forward he was slowly dying, until at last, after long and careful preparation, he closed his eyes peacefully under the icy hand of death. His death occurred on Monday in Passion Week, the 8th of April, 1878, at the age of twenty-nine years and eleven months, and his solemn obsequies were celebrated on the following Wednesday. All the sermons in this volume which can be identified with certainty as his are marked with his initial letter, B. May they long remain unfaded, a bouquet of immortelles. In memoriam!
Saint Paul the Apostle Church
New York County (Manhattan)
New York, USA
Plot: Church Basement: Not Open to the Public
Maintained by: Paulist Archives
Originally Created by: Esperer
Record added: Nov 19, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 44547698
Rest In Peace, Father Algernon!|
Added: Jul. 4, 2011