With a servant’s heart, Father Carroll passes at age 86

By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – Known for his servant’s heart, Father Bernard Patrick “Brian” Carroll passed on Monday, Sept 5 at the age of 86, celebrating 60 years of priestly life in Mississippi.

Born on April 27, 1936, in Dublin, Ireland to the late Dan and Bridget Carroll, Father Carroll enrolled at St. Patrick’s College in Carlow, Ireland and was ordained for the Diocese of Jackson (formerly Natchez-Jackson) after completing his seminary studies on June 9, 1962.

Father Bernard Patrick “Brian” Carroll is pictured in 1968. He died on Monday, Sept. 5 at the age of 86, celebrating 60 years of priestly life in Mississippi. (Photo from archives)

While at seminary, Father Brian earned his nickname “Speedy.” His friends would encourage him to “quicken up” his story telling saying “can you speed this up and get to the end.”

“But it never happened,” said Father Gerry Hurley after describing the moniker during his homily at St. Paul parish for Father Brian’s funeral Mass.

Also known for his dry wit and sense of humor, Father Brian had a joke for each occasion, said Father Hurley. “And you weren’t always sure when he reached the punchline.”

Having a servant’s heart, Father Brian was well known for his ministry to children and the sick. Many comments on social media following the news of his passing highlighted just how special Father Brian was to those who knew him.

“Well done good and faithful servant. You gave us so much. I could name it all from baptizing my dying brother with a teacup to giving your best to our youth. We’ll miss you; God give you rest.” – Jimmy Isonhood

“Father Carroll always had the wisdom from the Holy Spirit to guide his parishioners. … He was wonderful to make home visits and give the anointing of the sick to the sick and dying. He anointed my great uncle in Jackson in the middle of the night. He always said God protects us.” – Jeannie Malatesta Roberts

“He was so good to my in laws who came to live with us and attended church at St. Paul with us in Brandon for a few months after they lost everything in Katrina. Later, when my father-in-law died in 2010, [Father Brian] drove from Brandon all the way to New Orleans to concelebrate. He was so good at comforting the grieving, “ wrote Lori Brechtel on the news of Father Brian’s passing.

“Another time, my husband dropped something off after hours at St. Paul, and Father was in the kitchen in the Learning Center by himself cooking anything he could find to feed a family in need that had pulled in from Lakeland Drive. He had a servant’s heart and was so funny and humble. … Well done, good and faithful servant,” Brechtel continued.

The list of memories and stories could fill pages on the love, humor and heart for service Father Brian had for the people of the Diocese of Jackson. Each story, such a wonderful testimony to the joy and compassion over his 60 years in the diocese.

Arriving in the diocese in September 1962, Father Brian was assigned to St. John’s Parish in Biloxi and served as a teacher at Biloxi High School. In 1967, he served on the faculty of Our Lady of Victories High School in Pascagoula and as assistant pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Moss Point.

From the coast, Father Brian then made his way up to Vicksburg teaching at St. Aloysius High School and serving as assistant pastor at St. Paul Parish in 1968. He then served on the Diocesan Board of Consultors as a representative of assistant pastors.

In 1969, Father Brian was assigned as assistant pastor at Annunciation Parish in Columbus and served as chaplain at the Mississippi University for Women (formerly Mississippi State College for Women).

Traveling south, in 1970 Father Brian was assigned as pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in McComb for six years, in addition to serving as chaplain at Southwest Junior College. After McComb, he served as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Meridian and again as a consultor for the diocese.

After serving as dean of deanery III and VI, Father Brian served as the Pro-Synodal Judge to the Marriage Court before being appointed in 1986 as pastor of St. Elizabeth Clarksdale, where he ministered for 12 years.

From the Mississippi Delta, in 1998 Father Brian was appointed pastor of St. Paul Parish in Flowood, where he served for another 12-year stint. While there, he would often visit the St. Paul Early Learning Center and entertain the children with jokes and sing Irish lullabies and ditties.

While at St. Paul, he served as dean of deanery I for two years, in addition to serving again on the College of Consultors and Presbyteral Council.

The year 2010 brought Father Brian to St. Richard Parish in Jackson as a senior associate with Father Mike O’Brien; and as sacramental minister of St. Stephen Parish in Magee. He served in both parishes until he retired on New Year’s Eve of 2014.

“He had a great impact and affect on the lives of people,” said Father Hurley. “Yes, he was known for the funnies and wit and the Irish ditties, but he was most especially known for his pastor’s heart, his generosity to his family and friends and indeed to anybody in need.”

When he was able to travel home to Ireland, Father Brian would make the trek home to Ireland for a visit with family, always bringing a suitcase filled with gifts from Mississippi – whether it be popcorn, candy or over-sized clothing – it was always well received.

Traveling from Ireland to attend the funeral, was Father Brian’s nephew, Donal Carroll.
“We were very privileged to have a priest in our family,” said Donal.

He said that some of the most cherished memories in the family was when Father Brian would come home to Ireland with the suitcase of gifts for everyone.

“From pecan logs to Slinkys to popcorn … eventually Father Brian realized after many years of carrying this heavy suitcase … that you could get popcorn and the like in Carrick-on-Shannon or the local towns,” shared Donal.

“It still didn’t diminish our delight to see him coming home for that month.”

On behalf of the family, Donal thanked the many who aided Father Brian in his final years, including the staff at St. Dominic Hospital and St. Catherine’s Village; and to Father Mike O’Brien who helped care for “Speedy” and assisted the family for many years.

Father Mike is currently in Ireland ready to greet “Speedy” along with other family and friends on his final stage of the journey, where he will be buried at Kilmore Cemetery in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Roscommon.

“After 60 years of faithful service to God and the people of Mississippi, Father Brian has gone home to his eternal rest in heaven. His body will be buried at home in Ireland. So, again to the Diocese of Jackson and the people of Mississippi, you will be forever enshrined to the Carroll family.”