Joseph Bernard Brunini
Joseph Brunini was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, the sixth child of John and Blanche (née Stein) Brunini. His father was the son of Italian immigrants and worked as a lawyer, even founding his own firm, Brunini, Grantham, Grower & Hewes; his mother was Jewish. After attending St. Aloysius High School in Vicksburg, he studied at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., from where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1930. He then furthered his studies in Rome at the Pontifical North American College and the Propaganda University, earning a Bachelor of Sacred Theology in 1931. While in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal Francesco Marchetti Selvaggiani on December 5, 1933.
Following his return to the United States, Brunini completed his graduate studies at the Catholic University of America and later obtained a Doctor of Canon Law in 1937. He then returned to Mississippi and was named a curate at St. Mary's Cathedral in Natchez, where he became rector in 1943. He was raised to the rank of Privy Chamberlain in 1944, and served as chancellor (1941-1951) and vicar general (1951-1957) of the Diocese of Natchez. He was made a Domestic Prelate in 1948 and pastor of St. Peter's Cathedral at Jackson in 1949.
On November 28, 1956, Brunini was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Natchez and Titular Bishop of Axomis by Pope Pius XII. He received his episcopal consecration on January 29, 1957 from Bishop Richard Oliver Gerow, with Bishops Charles Pasquale Greco and John Louis Morkovsky serving as co-consecrators. In addition to his episcopal duties, he continued to serve as vicar general and pastor of St. Peter's Cathedral. Following the resignation of Bishop Gerow, Brunini was named the eighth Bishop of Natchez-Jackson by Pope Paul VI on December 2, 1967. He was the first native Mississippian to serve in that post. During his tenure, he was an outspoken advocate of the civil rights movement; he once declared, "We as religious leaders can't blame the politicians if we don't do our job first." He co-found and served as the first president of the Mississippi Religious Leadership Conference. The name of the diocese was simplified to the Diocese of Jackson on March 1, 1977.
Richard Oliver Gerow
|Bishop of Jackson
William Russell Houck