No sacrifice is greater than giving your life to help the poor along the Amazon River in Brazil. That’s what Father Dale Brune, a native of Washington, did for 50 years. He died Nov. 6, 2013, at age 75.
He was Washington’s best known missionary and when home on leave he enlisted the support of people in this area in the various projects he established to give the people in Brazil a better life. He, of course, had as his primary objective to bring the Catholic religion to the people he served along the Amazon River. Along with his priestly duties, Father Dale took the lead in economic development that produced jobs. He established a hammock factory that employed upwards of 100 people.
Father Dale was co-inventor of a rig to dig shallow wells that resulted in more than 30,000 wells in the Amazon area. He worked with a local resident there who had invented a hydroelectric turbine to provide electricity to isolated communities. He designed an economic self-help program for lay leaders so they could support themselves while volunteering for the church.
He was a very successful religious educator. He developed Base Christian Communities along the Amazon River. He taught local teams how to conduct study programs in their communities for adults and children. The studies included preparing children to receive the sacraments. He served three different parishes in the 1960s and the 1970s.
It would be impossible to measure the total good that Father Dale accomplished for the people along the Amazon River. Asked on one of his last trips home whether he would retire here or elsewhere in this country? “My home is in Brazil” was his reply. He had some health problems. Perhaps, he would have had better care and been more comfortable in the United States, but he preferred to be with his people in Brazil for whom he gave his life!