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Dermot Brosnan

Dermot Brosnan Obituary
Msgr. Dermot Noel Brosnan was born on December 31, 1929 in Killarney, Ireland and saw the face of Jesus on July 23, 2014. He is survived by his sister Ina Brosnan of Killarney, Ireland and his brother, Msgr. Liam Brosnan of San Antonio, Texas. He was preceded in death by his parents, his brother, Tom and sister, Phyllis. He was ordained as a catholic priest in Waterford Ireland on June 16, 1957 and came to the United States in September 1957. He was assigned to St. Patrick's Parish from 1957 until 1963. While a parish priest, Noel became personally acquainted with two of the most notorious gangs in San Antonio: La Loma and Austin Street Gangs. Both were located in his parish, a low income area whose residents were primarily Hispanic and African-American. Within two years Msgr. Brosnan was able to facilitate a truce between these two gangs. Smoking weed, alcohol and sniffing glue had been widely prevalent. As the abuse increased to include pills and heroin, abusers increased to include areas of upper income. Very shortly, drug abuse and addiction became a county wide problem. In 1959, Noel founded The Patrician Movement, a residential program for men and women addicted to legal and illegal drugs. Being a Catholic priest from Ireland and living in St. Patrick's Parish, Noel aptly named his program the Patrician Movement. Counseling, mediation and youth activities rapidly grew a full time ministry. To address this growing need Msgr. Brosnan requested and was granted authorization by the Archdiocese to devote his time exclusively to working with persons addicted to various substances. In granting this request, Archbishop Robert E. Lucey gave full support and also encouraged incorporation to facilitate fundraising. Archbishop Francis J. Furey ceded the buildings and property to the Patrician Movement, fondly called "La Mission del San Patricio". Shortly after the property was transferred, the City of San Antonio sued the Patrician Movement for not having an occupancy permit; Msgr. Brosnan took the issue to court and prevailed in a trial with the enthusiastic help of the late Bishop Bernard Popp. Noel Brosnan was a frequent guest of the federal and state judiciary to offer opinion testimony about successful treatment for criminals who suffered from substance abuse. Outspoken and passionate, Noel was known for his unabashed zeal and was heard to say "Judge you are wrong" more than once. The bench listened and people who were once considered hopeless were rehabilitated and educated at the Patrician Movement. In keeping with his commitment to assist drug addicts who were dropouts, in 1966 Noel was awarded the first grant in the history of the United States from the Office of Economic Opportunity for Substance Abuse Treatment. The Patrician Movement was ultimately awarded accreditation by the Joint Commission of Accreditation for Hospitals, a watershed achievement for a non-medical substance abuse treatment program. Insecure and reticent as a child, Noel found his strength and his passion in defending others. On Jan. 15, 2006, people from a variety of faiths came together to celebrate what would have been Dr. Martin Luther King's 77th birthday during the 19th annual MLK Interfaith Worship Service at St. Benedict Church. For his tireless efforts in advocating for the most oppressed and disenfranchised in San Antonio for more than four decades, Msgr. Dermot N. Brosnan was presented the 2006 Martin Luther King, Jr. Distinguished Achievement Award. His work was not without risk and more than once he was in harm's way with a pistol in his back and then with lug nuts missing from the tires on his car. He marched ahead, unafraid and convinced of his task. The residents nicknamed him "Little Jesus" and Noel took it as high praise. No surprise that "Little Jesus" would have a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, so much so that he had his own pet name for her, "Lupita". In addition to being a pioneer and an ambassador for treating drug addiction, for the last 20 plus years Noel was a strong advocate for improving educational opportunities for all children, especially for minorities. Msgr. Brosnan recognized the detrimental effects that drug addiction could have on a person's education. Although his clients included all ethnicities, all economic and social strata, most were Hispanics and African Americans. Further experience uncovered the lack of educational opportunities for minorities. Reflecting on his educational background in Ireland he immediately recognized the importance and advantages of school choice, a right that belongs to all parents and students. He also helped House and Senate committees of the State Legislature develop the Texas Drug Abuse Treatment, Prevent and Education Act. Msgr. Brosnan was present at the Capitol in Austin for every session that he could physically attend through 2013 advocating for school choice. Msgr. Brosnan was a familiar face in Washington fighting for school choice. His belief in education being attainable for all was borne out through his living testimony as he received his Master's Degree in Education at Incarnate Word while he was living among his residents at the Patrician Movement. After graduating with his Master's Degree, Msgr. Brosnan achieved the distinction of becoming a licensed Professional Counselor. Noel had a keen understanding of addiction and conquered his own nicotine addiction to prove to his residents that inanimate objects were truly inferior to the human will. Msgr. Brosnan's philosophy of treatment was non-medical and based on addressing the effects of Original sin: darkening of the understanding, weakness of the will and a strong tendency to do evil. In his clients he saw their potential and not their presenting conditions. When interviewed in recent years and asked how many addicts he had helped, Noel stopped the reporter and said "I have never met a drug addict or an alcoholic, only men and women formed in the image and likeness of Christ". There was no specified length to the treatment and it was the client's right to participate or to leave at any time. After completing the program it was necessary that clients be able to obtain gainful employment. Education became a significant component of the curriculum that included GED preparation. Many followed and enrolled in junior college. Through a federal grant, some were fully funded to earn a bachelor's degree at St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. And more, some continued to earn a Master's degree. Msgr. Brosnan set the example by earning his own Master's degree in Education while serving as the leader of the Patrician Movement. In recognition of his commitment and service to treatment of addiction, Msgr. Brosnan was appointed to and served for ten years on the Texas Adult Probation Commission. This board of six judges and three civilians set standards and approved funding for all probation departments of the State of Texas. Also since 2009 he has served as a member of the Board of Trustees for Holy Cross Community Services and for Holy Cross of San Antonio. Visitation will begin Friday at 4:00 P.M. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church with a Rosary to be recited at 7:00 P.M. Mass will be offered Saturday at 10:00 A.M. at St. Patrick's Catholic Church. Burial will be held in Ireland at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Padua Place, 80 Peter Baque, San Antonio, Texas 78209. Condolences may be sent to Msgr. Brosnan's family at www.theangelusfuneralhome.com Arrangements by:

Published in Express-News on July 25, 2014
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