The Rev. Brendan T. Carr, who had a dual career as an educator and later as a parish priest, died Monday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at Stella Maris Hospice. He was 82.
"Brendan was easy to be around and I always felt safe when I was with him," said the Rev. Thomas Ryan, who has been sacramental minister at Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn since 2000.
"He was not comfortable in the company of kings and queens. He was a meat and potatoes kind of man," said Father Ryan. "He was never on a pedestal and was always on the people's level. People always told me how comfortable they felt when they were with him."
"Brendan was quite a character," said Joseph Chamberlin, a Baltimore writer and former Catholic Relief Services manager. "He had a great sense of humor and a very quiet manner."
The son of James P. Carr, a laborer, and Hannah Sweeney, a homemaker, Brendan Thomas Patrick Arthur Carr was born and raised in Pittsburgh.
He attended Sacred Heart Parish Elementary School and was a 1952 graduate of Central Catholic High School, both in Pittsburgh.
After graduating from high school, he entered La Salle College, now La Salle University, in Philadelphia and took his final vows as a Christian Brother in 1957.
He earned a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in theology from La Salle and then spent the next 13 years teaching at Calvert Hall College High School.
"We have been best friends for 47 years. We were both Christian Brothers, and when I met him at Calvert Hall where he had been teaching for three years, we discovered that we were both from Pittsburgh, had gone to Central High School and had lived 10 miles apart," said Father Ryan. "We both came from relatively large families and we were by both Irish. So, Brendan was a friendly and familiar presence from Pittsburgh."
While he was teaching at Calvert Hall, several Baltimore priests encouraged him to consider becoming a priest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Father Carr felt called to the priesthood rather than remaining a Christian Brother because he wanted the opportunity to minister to all the people and just not in an educational environment, according to an Archdiocese of Baltimore profile.
In 1971, Father Carr earned a master's degree in Spanish from what is now Notre Dame of Maryland University, and he also began preparations for the priesthood that year at St. Mary's Seminary and University in Roland Park.
He was ordained into the priesthood by Cardinal Lawrence J. Shehan in 1972 at Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church in Glyndon.
After his ordination, he was assigned as an associate pastor at Sacred Heart in Glyndon, and then in 1973, was transferred to St. Francis of Assisi Roman Catholic Church in Mayfield.
In 1974, Father Carr became an associate chaplain at Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium and later that year was named associate pastor at St. Clement Roman Catholic Church in Lansdowne. Two years later, he became an associate pastor at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church in Northeast Baltimore.
Subsequently, he was named associate pastor in 1981 at St. Elizabeth Roman Catholic Church in Highlandtown, and later that year, took a similar position at St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church in Hamilton.
Father Carr was appointed pastor of St. Athanasius Roman Catholic Church in Curtis Bay where he remained until 1994 when he was transferred to St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Mount Savage as administrator.
The next year, he was appointed pastor of Church of the Crucifixion Roman Catholic Church in Glen Burnie, until 1998 when he went on leave. He returned to work in 1999 when he was named associate at Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Glen Burnie.
Father Carr retired in 2005 and moved to Mercy Ridge in Timonium.
"We are all tempted at funerals to canonize people but Brendan had an old-fashioned Irish temper, a Celtic stubbornness that was made of titanium and a heart of iron and lace," said Father Ryan.
"He was a generous man and was loving and gentle in his pastoral relationships with people. One of the first things they saw in him was his willingness to help and his words: 'How can I help you?' This is the level most people need and it came naturally to Brendan," said Father Ryan.
Father Carr was noted for his preaching.
"He was respected because he always preached from a level playing field," said Father Ryan. "I am including in my homily for Brendan an old suggestion that goes like this. 'When you preach, speak to the lonely and down-trodden because there is a broken heart in every pew.'"
The Morning Sun Newsletter
Get your morning news in your e-mail inbox. Get all the top news and sports from the baltimoresun.com.
For more than two decades, Father Carr spent summers in Wildwood, N.J.
Both Father Carr and Father Ryan shared a love of animals, and over the years, Father Ryan cared for more than 40 animals. He was particularly fond of two labs and Louis the Rescue Cat who was living with him at his death.