Yesterday, Friday, February 19, 2016 marked the fifth anniversary of the death of Bernard Brueggemann, arguably the best and most respected parishioner that SGG (St. Gertrude the Great Church) ever had. We have already written much about Bernie in the past -- how he was SGG’s main benefactor, both materially and spiritually. Bernie, for instance, single-handedly bankrolled the building of SGG’s present facility in West Chester, Ohio (donating well over a million dollars, plus supplying men and equipment for its construction); and, while he was there at SGG, he underwrote the cost of running the school (to the tune of several thousand dollars per month). Without him, SGG’s West Chester facility simply wouldn’t exist. (We must also point out that, although Bernie was the head of a multi-million dollar business, he spent very little on himself. He lived very modestly, donating most of what he had to SGG.)
But impressive as his material help was, what Bernie did spiritually for SGG was even more exemplary. Not only did he attend Mass daily (and just about every other religious function at SGG), but he also led the Rosary before Mass every Sunday. And it was Bernie who organized and oversaw SGG’s “all-night adoration” on First Fridays (with male volunteers taking one-hour turns at all-night adoration of the Blessed Sacrament). Bernie stayed at the church literally ALL NIGHT to oversee it (and to “cover” in case a man “missed” his one-hour turn for any reason, such as bad weather, over-sleeping, etc.). That is, if a man missed his turn, Bernie would take it for him. Bernie performed this service even into his eighties.
Besides that, we will relate to you the following anecdote, which gives even more insight into Bernie’s character: some years back, when one of his sons was involved in a grave accident, Bernie made a vow that, if that son was spared, he would abstain from drinking coffee the rest of his life. (Bear in mind that Bernie was an avid coffee drinker.) The son lived, and Bernie kept that vow. Many of us who knew Bernie noticed that he always drank tea (instead of coffee), and we wondered why. That vow is why. Bernie loved coffee, but he gave it up – the rest of his life – to honor the vow that he had made to his God. That’s the kind of resolve -- the kind of commitment -- that he had. That should give you some idea what kind of man Bernie was.*
And how was this man recompensed for all this faithful service? Well, let us illustrate. On First Fridays, when Bernie stayed at SGG all night, he would “cat nap” to help him make it through the night. Did Dannie provide a bed for him at the church to sleep on? No, he didn’t. And when Bernie asked him if he could sleep at the rectory, Dannie refused. So, as it turns out, Bernie had to “cat-nap” either by lying down on a hard pew (or, believe it or not, by sleeping in his car – and in all kinds of weather). What makes this so outlandish is that this rectory of Dannie’s was paid for by Bernie. This man (in his eighties) was expected to “offer it up” while Dannie slept “comfy cozy” in his warm bed in his 2000+ sq. ft., three-climate-zone rectory.**
Apparently, at SGG, “offering it up” is not for clergy, but only for laity. But the amazing thing is that Bernie DID offer it up: he never once complained about the ill treatment that he received at Dannie’s hands, but continued to give his all for SGG. Dannie, in turn – apparently thinking that there was no end to Bernie’s largesse -- kept exploiting Bernie to the max, milking him for everything he could think of. However, in 2009, when the “school scandals” broke, that became “the straw that broke the camel’s back” for Bernie. What happened was that -- amongst other things -- some of the children who were abused at the school were blood relatives of Bernie; and when those kids’ parents (and Bernie) complained about it to Dirtbag Dan, he simply ignored them.
At that point, Bernie (and half the parish) left SGG. And what did Dannie do? Well, he wrote to Bernie. But did he write to apologize to him for the treatment that those kids got? No, he actually wanted Bernie to apologize to him! He tried to “shame” Bernie into coming back, using every kind of “emotional blackmail” he could – even invoking the memory of Bernie’s recently deceased wife – adding that Bernie should “offer up Masses in penance” for having left SGG. He told Bernie that if he didn’t do so, he would be dishonoring the memory of his dead wife Rita. He then had Sanborn write to Bernie as well (see our article, A Tale of Two Letters) – a letter in which Big Don, of course, used much the same kind of “emotional blackmail” as Dannie did on Bernie.
A few years later, Bernie died. And when he did, how did the cult-masters honor the memory of this good man? Did any of them pay their respects to him by showing up at his visitation, by attending his Requiem Mass, or by coming to his graveside service? NO, “none of the above.” Dannie only offered Bernie some cursory lip service (in his Bishop’s Corner of Feb. 27, 2011 (the week following Bernie’s death). It was precious little; but Bernie was so well loved and respected – even by the rabble at SGG -- that Dannie HAD to say something about him. It was unavoidable. But when Dannie did, whatever he said (of course) was done to further his own agenda – and in his trademark lying, deceitful way.
Dannie started, innocuously enough, with the following: “For almost thirty years, Bernie’s loyalty, good example, great generosity and daily prayerful presence at St. Gertrude the Great literally ‘edified’ us, that is to say, built us up into what we are today. We are profoundly grateful.” But he then added, “That Our Lord should have decided in His ineffable wisdom, to finish Bernie’s life and crown his works with heavy and almost incomprehensible crosses, detracts nothing from God (for His ways are not man’s ways) nor from this man, his life and legacy.” No doubt, the “heavy and almost incomprehensible crosses” to which Dannie was referring were Bernie’s leaving SGG, and being buried from a rival church (Immaculate Conception). (Dannie, these weren’t “crosses.” They were blessings.)
Dannie then “kicked into high gear” (that is, he started lying profusely): “In the last year of his life, Bernie more than once expressed his wish to be buried from St. Gertrude the Great.” Dannie then added, “He was buried instead from Immaculate Conception, although he once so opposed this group’s scandalous inception in 1989, as to forbid discussion of the very subject in his home.” Firstly, Bernie spent “the last year of his life” NOT at SGG but Immaculate Conception. He wasn’t there that last year to “express his wish to be buried from St. Gertrude the Great.” In fact, both that and his second claim (that Bernie forbade the mention of Immaculate Conception in his home) drew an angry denial from Bernie’s own son. He stated that, not only was Bernie on the friendliest of terms with IC, but he attended there quite often and for a good many years.
This man – Bernie Brueggemann – after being so thoroughly exploited by Dannie, and then discarded by him (when Dannie could no longer profit from him), died a poor man. Because Bernie was so well loved by so many SGG parishioners, Dannie could not overtly vilify him; but, as can be seen from the previous examples, he could try to exploit his memory – and in his usual lying, deceitful way. Dannie, being the “name-dropper” that he is, often invoked Bernie’s name for propaganda purposes on other occasions as well (see Name Dropping’s Poster Child, for instance). He couldn’t come to the man’s funeral, but he could use him for his propaganda purposes – even in death.
When one considers what Dolan, Cekada, and Sanborn did to Bernie – how they so thoroughly used him, then discarded him “like yesterday’s news” -- one realizes just what kind of low-life scum these three scoundrels really are. (It also makes one wonder why anyone would have anything to do with them, much less, choose them for spiritual leaders.) But what they have done to Bernie in this life will only come back to haunt them in the next. Then it will be time for them to be “guilt-tripped” – by their Creator -- only this time, it will be legitimate. Dannie and Tony, who luxuriated in three-climate-zone comfort in this life, will trade that for one “climate zone” in the next – except that it may be a bit “warmer.”
The cult-masters undoubtedly took secret satisfaction in how they were able to “dupe” and deceive Bernie, taking advantage of his generous nature, and “living high” at his expense. But, as with all things of this world, their “high life” is coming to an end. In “fooling” Bernie, they have only fooled themselves. What Bernie gave – and gave so unselfishly of himself -- he did not for them, but for God, Who well remembers what he did – and what the cult-masters did. Now, the sun is setting on Dannie and Tony. More and more, they are having to curb their once-grand life-style; and their cult center is beginning to crumble.*** They’re now older, and becoming infirm; and they’re reaping what they have sown. If they escape eternal damnation (and that’s a big “if”), their tenure in purgatory will be a long and onerous one. These vipers, who so exalted themselves in this life, shall be humbled in the next. They, who so exploited Bernie in this life, will be groveling at his feet in the next – if they’re lucky.
Those of us who were privileged to have known Bernie will never forget him. Unlike the all-preach-and-no-practice cult-masters, Bernie was a man of his word – who kept his word. Bernie was a real Catholic, in both word and deed, who lived his Faith every day of his life. And we are certain that our Lord, as the often-intoned Requiem prayer entreats, will “grant eternal rest unto him, and let perpetual light shine upon him” – for Bernie truly was a man for all seasons.
* Can you imagine Dannie, Tony, or Big Don doing the same? Can you imagine Dannie giving up his “copious quantities of meat”? (He couldn’t even do it during Lent!) Can you imagine any one of those arrogant, high-living peacocks sacrificing anything, given similar circumstances? Can you imagine any of them giving up the Bishop’s Lodge -- or any of their other caviar dreams? Not on your life!
** Yes, the rectory had three “climate zones” – and, at over 2000 sq. ft., had plenty of room to accommodate an extra bed for Bernie. (Dannie’s and Tony’s bedrooms, by the way, were HUGE, each with its own private bath and over-sized walk-in closet.) While Bernie was up all night every First Friday, Dannie and Tony were snoozing away, comfy and cozy, in their rectory – a rectory that was paid for by Bernie, but which was denied him. It was okay for Bernie to foot the bill for the rectory, but not to use it. (Dannie and Tony could have at least provided a small bed or cot for Bernie at the church -- but they didn’t.)
*** Besides its notoriously leaky roof and its raccoon infestation problems, the barely fifteen-year-old cult center now needs a new “HVAC” (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) system. Of course, Dannie is asking for “extra” donations to cover its cost. (As always, it’s the parishioners who must pay for Dannie’s follies – and, being the blindly obedient brain-dead that they are, they’ll probably do it.)