Editor's note: Introducing NCRonline's blog series "Reader's Retrospective": A special project that commemorates NCR's 50th anniversary by telling the stories of readers who have been faithfully subscribing to the National Catholic Reporter since its beginning. Read about the project's origins here.
Fr. Doug Brougher's memories and reflections are as vivid and dynamic as the city -- New Orleans -- where he has lived most of his life: the sight of people celebrating in the streets at the end of World War II; time spent as an altar boy, which helped him discern a vocation; and idyllic visits to an uncle at Benedictine-run St. Joseph Seminary (which Brougher later attended).
More recent recollections, too, communicate a sense of hope even amid disaster, such as Brougher's evacuation from Touro Infirmary, where he serves as chaplain, a day before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and killed thousands of people, including friends. After driving all day and all night without finding shelter, Brougher spent his first night as an evacuee on the floor of a Hindu temple in Jackson, Miss. He eventually found a temporary home at St. Mary Parish in Batesville, Miss., and visited with other evacuees over the next weeks until Touro reopened.
Brougher considers his work, alongside volunteer eucharistic ministers and a dedicated hospital staff, a blessing marked by "the deep faith of those in the midst of suffering … [who] give me life and hope." A priest support group, Jesus Caritas Fraternity of Priests, as well as a connection to St. Joseph Abbey and Good Shepherd Parish (where Brougher is in residence), have also provided "oases" of support over the years.
As a charter subscriber, Brougher considers the National Catholic Reporter an "ongoing source and companion of Vatican II theology and spirituality" and expressed appreciation that NCR has "gone deeper" in some of its coverage in recent years. He first encountered NCR as a newly ordained priest just returned home from studying in Rome during 1959-63. "As one in a sea of people," Brougher witnessed the procession of bishops from St. Peter's Square on Oct 11, 1962, and was there when Pope John XXIII's* death was announced the following year. He was present at the pope's funeral and the election of Pope Paul VI.
Most recently, Brougher helped launch a foundation to promote lay ministry in the church in memory of a friend, Msgr. Ignatius Roppolo, a beloved New Orleans priest who died in 2014.
*The earlier version of this story had the incorrect pope listed.