Fr. Broderick, 87, had a big intellect, even bigger heart

Fr. Leo Broderick

ALGONAC — To those who had the pleasure to know him, Fr. Leo Broderick was a “true renaissance man.”

“He knew a lot about everything — politics, sports, theology, language, art, music. His library was massive. His music library was massive. He was the typical Irishman who was a scholar,” said Fr. David Bechill, associate pastor of Our Lady on the River Parish in Marine City.

Fr. Broderick, who served a dozen different parishes in the Archdiocese of Detroit over five decades, died Aug. 7. He was 87.

Even bigger than Fr. Broderick’s intellect was his heart for God and the parishioners he served, said Fr. Bechill, who credits Fr. Broderick with inspiring his own vocation to the priesthood as a young man at St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish in Algonac, where Fr. Broderick served as pastor from 1994-98.

“His way of talking about the faith, it was so clear. Whether he was talking about the Church, or the Bible, or Jesus, you could tell that this was not just a thought in his head; this was something that he believed and lived,” Fr. Bechill said.

“I remember saying to myself as a young guy, ‘This is the real deal.’ His actions as a priest, the way that he lived, the way that he treated others made me say to myself, ‘I want to live like that.’”

Fr. Broderick was a good administrator who talked frequently about the need for a strong prayer life, said Fr. Bechill, who kept in contact with his mentor after Fr. Broderick retired from active ministry in 2004.

After retirement, Fr. Broderick kept an unusually active lifestyle, farming two acres of land in his Algonac backyard and growing all kinds of produce — potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, peppers, corn — which he would give to his friends and those in need.

“He was a serious farmer,” Fr. Bechill said. “He had two acres of land and two tractors, and I would be out there sometimes spreading fertilizer and picking up weeds with him.”

For all Fr. Broderick’s knowledge and skills, he always recognized what was truly important, however.

“He made it clear that you had to be a man of prayer and a man of the Church,” Fr. Bechill said. “As I reflect on the impact he had on me as a boy, it was very simple to him: God is God, and He’s given us the Church, and we’d better be serious about this. Life is not worth wasting on stupid things, worrying about people’s opinions or being cool. He was very real and down to earth, and his entire life bespoke that.”

Fr. Broderick was born March 1, 1930, in Detroit and attended Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit and St. John’s Provincial Seminary in Plymouth Township.

He was ordained June 2, 1956, and celebrated his first Mass at St. Luke Church in Detroit.

Fr. Broderick served as associate pastor at St. Frances Cabrini Parish, Allen Park (1956-61); and St. John Parish, Ypsilanti (1961-64). He was assigned to the Newman Center at Eastern Michigan University from 1964-69.

From 1969-70, he was pastor of St. Clement Parish, Dearborn. He was appointed to the faculty of St. John’s Seminary in Plymouth in 1971, where he remained until 1977. He served as pastor of St. William Parish, Walled Lake (1977-85); St. Augustine Parish, Richmond (1985-89); Our Lady of the Lakes Parish, Waterford Township (1989-94); and St. Catherine Parish, Algonac (1994-98). He then served from 1998-2000 as pastor of both St. John the Evangelist Parish, Allenton, and St. Nicholas Parish, Capac. After being granted senior priest status in 2000, Fr. Broderick was administrator of St. Barnabas Parish, Eastpointe (2001), All Saints Parish, Memphis (2002), and Holy Rosary Mission and St. Philip Neri parishes in Columbus (2003-04).

He was vicar of the Belle River Vicariate from 1987-89.

A funeral Mass was celebrated for Fr. Broderick on Aug. 12 at Our Lady of the Lakes Parish in Waterford.

He is predeceased by his parents, James and Jennie Broderick; his sisters, Johanna Phalen and Alice Foguth; and his brothers, William, James, and Donald. He is survived by his brother, Daniel (Peggy) Broderick and his sister-in-law Sheila Broderick.