Norbertine Fr. Brian Prunty, Marine veteran and New London native, dies

By Sam Lucero

DE PERE — Norbertine Fr. Brian John Prunty, 83, died Jan. 4. Fr. Prunty was born in New London on Jan. 16, 1936, to the late Francis and Margaret (Murray) Prunty.

His call to priesthood came while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps after high school. In 1956 he enrolled at St. Norbert College and entered the Norbertine Order a year later. Fr. Brian was vested as a novice on Aug. 28, 1957, and professed simple vows on Aug. 28, 1959, and solemn vows on Aug. 28, 1962. He was ordained to the priesthood on June 5, 1965.

Norbertine Fr. Brian Prunty

Fr. Prunty graduated from St. Norbert College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy and second and third majors in social science and secondary education in 1961. He also received a Master of Arts degree in sociology from De Paul University, Chicago, in 1971 and a Bachelor of Arts of Medical Science in the Physician Assistant Program at St. Louis University, St. Louis, in 1983.

Fr. Prunty was a faculty member in the 1960s and 1970s at the following schools: Premontre High School, Green Bay; St. Martin de Porres High School, Detroit; and St. Willibrord High School, Chicago. He then served as pastor at St. Willibrord Parish, Chicago, and was president/chief administrator of the high school.

In 1983 Fr. Prunty worked as a physician assistant at Cook County Jail and Hospital in Chicago and ministered at various Chicago parishes. He also volunteered at a neighborhood free clinic. In 1987, he joined the Norbertine mission (hospital, clinic, parish and secondary school) on the Napo River, deep in the Peruvian rainforest. There he served as a physician assistant/medical missionary at Santa Clotilde on the Rio Napo in Iquitos, Peru. Three years later, he returned to Chicago and resumed his ministry at Cook County Jail and Hospital.

In 1995, Fr. Prunty became associate director of formation and house superior at the Holy Spirit House of Studies, Chicago. At the same time, he served on the Abbot’s Council, the Order’s Personnel Board and as a member of St. Norbert College Board of Trustees.

He became pastor at St. Norbert College in September 2002, and house superior at St. Joseph Priory, De Pere, and continued to teach at the college until 2010. He retired to St. Norbert Abbey in 2014.

Fr. Prunty is survived by the Norbertine community; two sisters and brothers-in-law, Jane (Tom) Schermitzler and Margaret (Frank) Klegin; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; one brother and sister-in-law, James (Roberta) Prunty; and one sister, Phyllis Jarecki.

Vespers of the Dead and reception of the body will be held at the church of St. Norbert Abbey on Friday, Jan. 10, 7 p.m., followed by visitation until 9 p.m. Visitation will continue on Saturday, Jan. 11, from 8:30 a.m. until the Mass of Christian Burial at 10:30 a.m. Abbot Dane J. Radecki will preside at the Funeral Mass. Burial will be in the St. Norbert Abbey Cemetery at a later date.