There is an old saying that states, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
For Father Geoffrey Brooke Jr., his journey has led him from his birth in Missouri to Rome and the Vatican and back home again in the short span of 27 years.
Brooke was ordained June 27 as the Associate for the Catholic Community of Pettis County, working in the parishes of Sacred Heart, St. Patrick’s, and St John’s in Bahner.
“My roles are varied but essentially it is my job to help the pastor with in whatever way I can,” Brooke said. “My work here is exceeding my expectations from my formation in Rome and I have greatly enjoyed my time so far in the community.”
Brooke has many responsibilities from conducting Mass to working and teaching students at Sacred Heart and with the Hispanic ministry.
“I really enjoy my time spent in the school and working with the students,” Brooke said. “I think it shocks them when they realize that it wasn’t that long ago that I was in their same place.”
Brooke said he can relate to all of the joys and struggles his students face because he experienced those himself growing up.
“I was in high school just eight years ago,” Brooke said. “It is hard for them to realize that I didn’t just fall out of the sky and land here.”
Brooke was born in St. Louis, but eventually moved to New Jersey with his family.
After his high school graduation, he returned to Missouri and the University of Missouri-Columbia where he studied journalism.
“I left MU after two years when I was offered the opportunity to work for the Catholic News Service in Washington, D.C.,” Brooke said. “I thought I shouldn’t let those opportunities pass.
“I felt comfortable there and enjoyed what I was doing but in the back of my mind I felt I was being led to follow a different path,” Brooke said. “So, when I was 20, I decided to enter the seminary.”
Brooke entered Conception Seminary College in Maryville at the age of 21 to complete his undergraduate work. He then made the trip to Rome where he spent the next four years of his life, furthering his studies.
As a student in Rome, Brooke studied at both the Pontifical North American College and the Pontifical Gregorian University.
Both schools helped to shape his worldviews.
“I was blessed that when I was at the University I was surrounded by students from 43 countries,” Brooke said. “I developed some incredible, great friendships and I need and appreciate them so much.
“I could sit down and have coffee with people from all over the world and so when something is happening around the world, a natural disaster or a political situation, I could go to my friends and we would sit down and discuss what is going on,” Brooke said. “The world became not so distant because of those friendships.”
Fluent in three languages — English, Spanish and Italian — Brooke speaks five others, which have helped him both professionally and personally.
Brooke is also fortunate to have family who live throughout the world who he said have inspired him to try to understand both the experiences of the world and the role of the Church throughout the world.
Brooke, who spends a week or more on his homilies for Mass, said after the terrorist attacks in Paris of the past week, he immediately changed the direction of the writing.
“After the attacks I was drawn to speak on two points: first we cannot allow the frequency and conditions of the attacks to allow us to become desensitized to the tragedies that have occurred,” Brooke said. “We should mourn for what has happened, because globally we are not that far away from one another.
“Second is the concept that everyone wants justice; if you want justice, work for peace,” Brooke said. “Pope Paul VI said, ‘Try to build a culture of peace in our homes and communities and allow it to spread throughout the world.’”
Because of social media, Brooke feels people live in a culture where they want a quick fix as a solution to the problems they face.
“What we need to realize is that we have to have conversations of the heart, and those don’t happen in an instant,” Brooke said. “We’re here, and we should not be afraid to talk.
“That is one of my desires in my job, is to meet and talk with individuals,” Brooke added. “We can move forward together and have a local impact on both our community and the world.”
He said his mission is always to bring people to Christ.
“My job is to serve Christ and those in need to help foster and share a relationship with Christ with others,” Brooke said. “I want to help bring those who have fallen away from the Catholic Church back, and I want all to grow in the values of faith and the teachings of the Church.”
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484