Fr. Joe Pat Breen, a beloved priest of Nashville, dies

A funeral Mass was celebrated May 27 for Father Joseph Patrick “Joe Pat” Breen, a priest of the Diocese of Nashville who at one time served as pastor of St. Thérèse of Lisieux Church in Cleveland as well as at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Chattanooga and as assistant principal at Notre Dame High School.

Father Breen, who was considered one of Nashville’s best-known Catholics, died May 21 after a long illness. He was 87. The funeral Mass was at Christ the King Church in Nashville.

Father Breen, who was ordained to the priesthood on Dec. 20, 1961, retired in 2014 after serving as pastor at St. Rose of Lima Church in Murfreesboro from 1974 to 1984 and then at St. Edward Church in Nashville for 30 years.

Following his death, Father Breen’s family released a statement: “Father Joe Pat Breen was the patriarch of our family, and we never lost sight of the blessing that he was to all of us. We grieve tonight, but we know that we aren’t the only ones. Joe Pat’s family extended far beyond his blood kin. He loved everyone he ever met from the bottom of his heart. Father Joe Pat was genuine. He was exactly what he appeared to be; a man who loved God and the world and all the people God made regardless of race or gender or sexual orientation or faith or lack thereof. He was an encourager. He was accepting. He was far ahead of his time. We miss him already.”

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