Tributes have been paid to a Donegal priest, who has died in America.

Carrick native Fr John Joe Mc Brearty died suddenly while living in Gulf Port, Mississippi.

Father John Joe Mc Brearty was born in Bogagh, Carrick, County Donegal, Ireland on March 23, 1931 to his parents James and Sarah (nee Brown).

After receiving his primary education in Ireland, he immigrated to Chicago, IL and worked there for four years.  In 1958, he felt a vocation call to study for the priesthood with the St. Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart, and entered Epiphany Apostolic College in Newburgh, New York.

Upon completion of his studies which involved Fr John taking a full degree in a shorter period than normal, he continued through the novitiate year and then priestly formation at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, DC.

On June 1, 1968, he was ordained a Josephite priest by Patrick Cardinal O’ Boyle in Holy Comforter/St. Cyprian Church in Washington.

Fr. John’s first two priestly years were spent as an associate pastor at St. Vincent DePaul parish in Washington, DC.

Six years after this assignment he served as associate pastor at Church of the Epiphany parish in New Orleans.  He returned in 1974 to minister for three years as associate in Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish in Washington, DC.

Fr. John Mc Brearty received his first assignment as pastor in 1977, to Immaculate Conception parish in Lebeau, LA. After a brief stay he was assigned to Houston, TX, to pastor Our Lady Star of the Sea Church.

Four years later he did a two-year pastorate at Prince of Peace parish in Mobile, AL, followed by a six-year pastoral ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Church at Breaux Bridge, LA. In 1986 he served for one year at St. Joseph parish in Wilmington, DE, as pastor.

During the next sixteen years, Fr. Mc Brearty served as pastor at Sacred Heart, Raywood, TX (3 years), St. Joseph, Alexandria, VA (5 years) and St. Augustine, New Roads, LA (8 years).

He recently completed a full and extensive renovation of the 80-year-old parish church at Gulfport, Mississippi. The church was only newly dedicated just five weeks ago, when he successfully witnessed the labours of his hard work with the reopening of the church.

Donegal TD Pat 'the Cope' Gallagher said: "Earlier this year in August, I attended the celebration of his Golden Jubilee of his Ordination in St Cartha’s Church , Kilcar, when the entire community gathered to celebrate the occasion with their native son.

"Each year in August Fr John made his return to Bogagh to stay with his late brother James and Evelyn, his Donegal roots were always strong and his heart never forgot the land that first nurtured it.

"Throughout his entire priestly vocation Fr Mc Brearty worked with the poor and disadvantaged, he championed the underprivileged and the less well off. He provided assistance and help to those who most needed it and who more often than not never received a helping a hand from either state or community.

"He was an innovator and an extremely hard worker – retirement for him was never on the agenda, as he worked till the last minute God granted him on this earth."

The Funeral Mass for Fr. Mc Brearty took place in his beloved St. Therese of Lisieux Church, Gulf  Port  on Thursday, December 6.  A Mass of Christian Burial was later held on Friday, December 7 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana – a place where he chose himself to rest eternally.

"Eternal rest grant onto your servant Fr John Joe Mc Brearty – your earthly work is now completed, your good deeds go before and your legacy will be forever known amongst those you served well. Rest easy my good friend, reunited with those you loved dearly and that have gone before you," Deputy Gallagher added.

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