Although yet a young man the gentleman whose name introduces this
biographical sketch has accomplished much toward ameliorating the condition
of his fellow men, often laboring with disregard for his own welfare if
thereby he might attain the object he sought to make some one better,
happier. Such a life as his is rare and is eminently worthy of emulation,
being singularly free from all that is deteriorating or paltry, for his
influence is at all times uplifting and thousands of people have been made
better for having known him.
Father John H. Bruns, who has done such a commendable work in promulgating the interests of the Catholic church and school in Centralia, Illinois, was born in Borken, Germany, June 30, 1870, the son of Joseph and Adalaid (Rademacher) Bruns, .being the oldest child of a family of eight children. He came to America in 1880. His early education was obtained in the common schools of Europe and partly at Pinckneyville, Illinois. Under the Franciscan Fathers at Tentrepolis, near Effingham, he studied the classics and graduated in 1891 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts and as the valedictorian of his class. He afterward took a degree, Master of Arts, in a school of philosophy at Quincy, Illinois. Then he took a tree years' course in theology at St. Francis, near Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Being ambitious our subject applied himself in a most assiduous manner to his studies and made an excellent record in all those schools.
Father Bruns was ordained to the priesthood June 16, 1895, and soon thereafter assigned to be assistant pastor at St. Peter's cathedral, Belleville, Illinois, where he remained for a period of eight years, having in the meantime accomplished much in the building up of this organization and winning a lasting monument in the hearts of the people of that church. He was appointed pastor at Centralia August 20, 1903, and is at this writing, 1908, carrying on the work here with that discretion, energy and devotion that insures abundant success. Many improvements have been inaugurated since his coming, among which might well be mentioned the installation of a new and modern heating system in the church and school, an addition to the school building, costing about three thousand and one hundred dollars, the purchase of a cemetery at a cost of one thousand and five hundred dollars, also the purchase of a hospital site at a cost of four thousand dollars. He has labored faithfully in the building up of the church and the school, the former now representing one hundred and sixty families, and there are at this writing one hundred and fifty-six pupils enrolled in the school. Three teachers are employed and the course includes the eighth grade work and a complete course of bookkeeping. Six sisters are employed to take care of the sick. When the work on the new hospital is completed a large number of sisters of the highest efficiency will be constantly engaged to care for the sick and those who are brought for treatment. The church building is one of the handsomest in the city and would be a pride to any city, having cost fifty thousand dollars. The parsonage cost four thousand dollars, and the school building proper cost five thousand dollars, the second floor of the school building having an elegant hall and stage, where entertainments and other exercises are held, such as socials for the church and the school. The original building of the hospital will cost when completed about twenty-five thousand dollars. It will be so built that new additions can be added without marring the beauty and unity of any part.
It has been no small task to do what Father Bruns has done. It required much hard work and a zeal and perseverance that only those who were closely connected with and took active part in the work of the parish can clearly understand and appreciate. Beside the business end of the work, he has been busy in building up the parish and raising the spiritual standing of the congregation, which is now in a good condition, both temporal and spiritual.
In the purchase of property, the erection of buildings and in looking after the transactions attendant upon them he has shown business tact and energy, as well as a spirit of devotion to his church. His acts, both spiritual and temporal, have met with the united approval of his own people and all others. But these are too well known to require further detailed mention, and the writer knows that whatever of good the reverend priest may have accomplished he would far rather have it engraved on the hearts of the people than to be put into print, and that the approval of his own conscience and of his Divine Master are the reward he wishes for his labors in behalf of the church.
Extracted 27 May 2019 by Norma Hass from 1909 Biographical and Reminiscent History of Richland, Clay and Marion Counties, Illinois, pages 558-559.