Fr. Frederick Brost

Fr. Frederick Brost

Anita Draper
Catholic Herald staff

A lover of languages and dressed-up altars, Fr. Frederick Brost is celebrating his 60th anniversary of priesthood ordination this year.

Fr. Brost, 85, left full-time ministry in 2010, after 12 years as pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus, Stetsonville.

“It was supposed to be six years ago in August, but I had to stay on until Nov. 2,” he explained.

Still celebrating Mass three days a week at Holy Rosary, Medford, Fr. Brost is also caring for his ailing brother, walking his brother’s dog each day and trying to keep up with his reading.

The priest subscribes to a number of magazines and newspapers, “all Catholic, of course.”

On June 8, Fr. Brost was working outside. He had to get the mower out because the people who were supposed to mow the lawn, well, didn’t.

“There’s plenty to do,” he said. “In fact … I’m behind in getting my flower pots outside. The weather has been kind of awful.”

In his leisure time, Fr. Brost enjoys rather academic pursuits. He likes to study maps and dictionaries, looking up words in German, Latin and Greek.

If he’s really trying to keep busy, he’ll read the same Gospel passage three times – first in English, then in Latin, and finally in Greek.

“When I can understand it in three languages, it makes me feel happy,” he said.

Fr. Brost loves languages. He’s learned enough Spanish to read and understand the Mass, he said, but he isn’t well-versed enough to preach extemporaneously in the language.

French, he was told in seminary, is a language he’s supposed to learn on his own.

“I never did,” he confessed.

Prayer is also a big part of his retired life, the priest said, and he prays every day for everyone he meets.

“Little things like that” keep him busy, when he’s not celebrating Mass at Holy Rosary, which is also his home parish, or at home, as he does on the weekends.

When he reflects on six decades in God’s service, Fr. Brost finds the best moments are sacramental – “of course, the celebration of the Mass” – but also hearing confession when it’s a true conversion experience, and being told his words have touched a listener’s heart.

“It feels good to know that the Lord is working through you, through the priest, to have a sense of the presence of God,” he added.

Seventh of 15 children born to George and Leona (Gelhaus) Brost, Fr. Brost was not the only sibling who chose a religious vocation. His sister, Sr. Georgia Brost, a School Sister of St. Francis who lives in Milwaukee, is celebrating her 70th jubilee this year.

“I’m just a youngster here,” he added. “My sister is 88 or 89 – so, we have two in the family celebrating our anniversary.”

Their service to the church is nothing compared to their aunt’s, he added. A parentless child, she entered the convent at age 9.

“She died at the age of 92,” he said. “You can imagine how long she was in the convent.”

He has a few stories like that; suffice to say, the Brost family has a history of religious vocations, as well as longevity.

When he agreed to be featured in a story, Fr. Brost wanted to ensure his sister’s accomplishments would be mentioned. She started out teaching in Catholic school, he said, but later moved to Milwaukee’s public school system to help support the older sisters.

During her religious life she taught in parish schools in the Dioceses of Madison and La Crosse, as well as the Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa, and the Archdioceses of Chicago and Milwaukee.

Even as she nears 90, she volunteers at a Catholic school in Milwaukee.

“She still tutors and helps around the convent with some of the charities there,” he added.