Father Brown was a visionary for youth ministry

Augustinian Father James Brown, who was a leader in the Teens Encounter Christ (TEC) movement nationally and in Omaha, and who served in Omaha parishes, died Dec. 8 in Oxnard, California. He was 98.

Father Brown’s religious order, the Augustinian Recollects, will hold a vigil service Dec. 17 and a memorial Mass Dec. 18 at the order’s priory in Oxnard.

In Omaha, visitation will be Dec. 19 from 5-7 p.m. followed by a wake service at 7 p.m. at St. James Church. A funeral Mass will be held Dec. 20, 11 a.m., at the church with interment Dec. 21 at Mount Calvary Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas.

A native of Snyder, Father Brown was ordained in 1946 in Atchison, Kansas. He served in seminaries, parishes and various ministries around the country before coming to Omaha in 1974, where he served as spiritual director at Boys Town until 1977.

Father Brown was spiritual director for the national TEC Conference and introduced TEC in the Omaha archdiocese in 1975. He led efforts to refocus the program nationally and to develop a definitive TEC manual.

Father Brown was the archdiocese’s first director of youth and young adult ministry from 1982 to 1995 where he was instrumental in helping develop youth ministry programs and youth minister training.

He was pastor of Holy Ghost Parish from 1977 to 1982, and served as associate pastor of St. James Parish from 1984 to 2006, before retiring to his order’s priory where he continued his work with TEC, including translation of the TEC manual into Spanish.

Longtime friend and TEC collaborator, Greg Schwietz, a member of Sacred Heart Parish in Omaha, called Father Brown a visionary and a leader.

“He was really committed to youth and young adults,” Schwietz said. “There were two things he really loved the most – the Gospel and young people, and TEC and the youth office became instruments in which he could join those two in a meaningful and long lasting way.”

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