Jesuit Father Brian Garry died May 16, 2019 in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. He was 73 years old, a Jesuit for 44 years and a priest for 36 years.
Fr. Garry was born in Jersey City, New Jersey, on June 27, 1945, to John N. and Helen Moorhouse Garry. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his sister, Margot Garry Tudisco. He is survived by his brother Marc Garry of Port Orange, Florida.
As a young man, Fr. Garry joined the United State Navy and served for five years in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. He then went to work for the Penn Central Railroad, first as a machine operator, then as a railroad policeman. After six years with Penn Central, he gave up his policing duties to enter the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) on Aug. 14, 1974, at St. Charles College in Grand Coteau. He was almost 30 years old, a bit old to enter the novitiate in those years, but he became instantly notorious for his New Jersey accent, his past as a railroad cop, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass he drove to the novitiate. He pronounced First Vows on Aug. 15, 1976.
Following First Vows he was assigned to Loyola University to study philosophy and finish his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He then studied theology from 1979 to 1983, at the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago, earning a Master of Divinity.
He was ordained on June 19, 1982, in Ormond Beach, Florida. He pronounced Final Vows on March 8, 2014, in the chapel at Jesuit Hall in St. Louis.
Fr. Garry’s priestly assignments were all pastoral; many were with people who were in some way outside the mainstream of society. He served as chaplain or counselor for Vietnam vets at the University of Southwestern Louisiana in Lafayette, Louisiana (now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette); for men incarcerated in the Louisiana State Prison in Angola, including those on death row; for students at Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, an historically black university; for juveniles in the Florida detention system and for patients receiving substance abuse or mental health services at the Agency for Community Treatment in Tampa, Florida.
He also served as assistant pastor at the Gesu Church in Miami, St. Brendan’s in Ormond Beach, Florida, the Church of the Epiphany in Port Orange, Florida, and St. Charles Borromeo in Grand Coteau.
Fr. Garry’s ability to connect with people in pain sprang from his own experience. Many of his ministries came after a motorcycle accident in the early 1980s in which he suffered a serious back injury. He was left with intense back pain that persisted through several surgeries to the end of his life.
We remember with gratitude all that God has done through Fr. Garry’s life of service to God and God’s people.