Father Richard Bresnahan, 87, dies; funeral Mass is Monday in Moline

Father Richard Bresnahan

(UPDATE — For the full text of the homily at the funeral Mass for Father Bresnahan, click here.)

MOLINE — A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Monday, July 8, at Christ the King Church here for Father Richard Bresnahan, 87, a senior priest of the Diocese of Peoria known for promoting the social teaching of the Catholic Church regarding poverty, justice and peace.

Father Bresnahan died on Wednesday, July 3, 2019, at Perspective Senior Living in Silvis.

Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will be principal celebrant of the funeral Mass. The homilist will be Msgr. Doug Hennessy, with whom Father Bresnahan formerly served as co-moderator of Catholic social teaching for the Diocese of Peoria.

Visitation is scheduled on Sunday, July 7, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Christ the King Church, 3205 60th St., Moline.

Burial will be at St. Mary Cemetery, East Moline.

Born in East St. Louis on March 28, 1932, to Farley and Miriam (Vermeersch) Bresnahan, he was raised in Pekin. After one semester at Pekin Community High School, he transferred to St. Henry’s Preparatory Seminary in Belleville. He completed his studies for the priesthood at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein.

Father Bresnahan was ordained by Bishop William E. Cousins on June 1, 1958, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.

He served for five years as parochial vicar of St. Mary Parish in Moline and then for eight years as parochial vicar of St. Cecilia Parish, Peoria.

Father Bresnahan was pastor of St. John Parish in Woodhull from 1971 to 1974 and co-pastor of St. Columba Parish, Ottawa, from 1974 to 1978. After a year with Ministry Training Services in Colorado, he briefly served as co-pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Moline, before beginning 15 years as pastor of Christ the King, Moline.

From 1994 until being granted senior status in 2002, Father Bresnahan was pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Coal Valley.

During his years of active ministry he frequently encouraged small, lay-led faith groups. Following his retirement, he concentrated on the church’s social teaching, promoting JustFaith in the diocese and similar initiatives. Much of this was done under the umbrella of organizations such as Catholic Charities and Bread for the World.

“It is essential to a good, full Catholic understanding,” Father Bresnahan said of the church’s social teaching in a 2018 interview with The Catholic Post as he observed the 60th anniversary of his ordination. “I think people thought Catholic social teaching means giving a donation to the poor, but it means so much more than that,” he added. Addressing matters of poverty and injustice are not “add-ons” to our faith but “very much at the core of Jesus’ teaching.”

Father Bresnahan added that celebrating the Eucharist “has always been a very powerful thing” in his priesthood as the Mass brings us God’s presence and “encourages us to be more fully the body of Christ.”

Father Bresnahan is survived by two sisters, Mary Smoluch of Mukilteo, Washington, and Rita Bresnahan of Seattle, Washington; a brother, Jerry Bresnahan of Las Vegas, Nevada; and many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother, Bob, of Pekin, and a sister, Patricia Kehr, of Brainerd, Minnesota.

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