On March 1, Theresa Brey, a member of our all-volunteer staff, passed way. It’s difficult to express how important she was to this apostolate, but it is possible, even likely, that without her efforts, St. Michael Broadcasting would not exist. She played a major role in founding, funding and developing the station.
Perhaps this is a good time to tell a short history of the station.
In 1982, Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J., then living in New Jersey, was urged by a friend to apply for television licenses that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was going to award by lottery, and start some Catholic television stations around the country. Fr. Baker applied, and won licenses in Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Louis and Minneapolis/St. Paul. There had been 35 applications for the Minneapolis/St. Paul license.
Fr. Baker came to St. Paul and asked Msgr. Schuler, from St. Agnes Parish, for help. Msgr. Schuler put him in touch with, among others, Bernard “Bud” and Theresa Brey. At that time, Bud and Theresa were going about Minnesota, to Catholic colleges and parishes, showing religious films, such as Quo Vadis, The Shroud of Turin, The Bells of St. Mary’s, etc., through an organization they had founded years earlier called The Minnesota Catholic Film Society. Bud and Theresa decided they could more effectively evangelize by helping to create this proposed Catholic television station. In 1989, Channel 53 went on the air. Bud and Theresa became station manager and office manager and generously self-funded the station when expenses exceeded contributions.
In May, 2008, Bud Brey passed away, and Fr. Baker, then nearly 79 years old, transferred the station license to St. Michael Broadcasting, which was incorporated to continue the mission of the station: “To serve as an evangelization tool for the Roman Catholic Church in order to be an influential, educational and moral voice in our society.” Theresa Brey continued to serve in an advisory role, drawing on her long history with the station, and helped with monthly mailings. To the best of our knowledge, St. Michael Broadcasting is the only Catholic station founded by Fr. Baker that remains on the air, and that is largely due to the work, financial contributions, and prayers of Bud and Theresa.
Theresa was an exemplary woman of prayer, a good friend and a great fighter for the faith. Shortly before she died, she was still alert, and asked for and received the Last Rites and Apostolic Blessing for the Dying. The words of St. Paul to Timothy come to mind: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Tim 4:7) As one volunteer said after she died, “Hers was a well-lived life.” But perhaps a more fitting a tribute to her is this essay which she wrote in 1955, when she was 17 years old and attending a now closed all-girls Catholic boarding school in Minnesota, Villa Maria Academy:
Sometime during her life, a girl decides upon a definite set of ideals. As she strives to attain them, one is predominate in her mind. This one ideal remains always before her, and each step she takes either brings her closer or takes her farther from that goal.
I think one of woman’s greatest privileges is to be a mother. This does not mean only physical, but also spiritual motherhood.
This privilege of motherhood must be well considered and prepared for by one who looks into the future, so that there will be no hesitation when she is confronted with her life’s work. In order to accomplish this ideal, one must increase her spiritual wealth so that she will be able to instill within her children morals and the basic culture of their lives. She must help them establish an ideal and with all her power help them to attain that goal.
She must realize that as a woman she has no right to the child, but the child has a right to her as a mother. She cannot expect everything to go her way, but must fit herself to the needs of others.
A Spanish proverb goes, “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” A question of serious thought confronts the girl when she delves into this old saying. Will she make of her child a hero, a saint, a coward, or a traitor? It is her choice that will determine the child’s attitude toward life and the accomplishment of her own ideal.
She must exert the earliest spiritual influence on her child by teaching him his first word, by directing his first thoughts, and by guiding his first decisions; thus, helping to develop within him a true philosophy of life.
She must strive to be a nurse for her child, a guardian, a teacher, a philosopher.
Yes, this is her Holy Grail. This the goal for which she is striving. If anything or anyone should enter her path to stop her from attaining that ideal, it is up to her to refuse its influence. Thus, shall she strengthen her determination, clear her path, and arrive at the attainment of her goal. Theresa Judge (Brey), 1955, (Junior year at Villa Maria Academy)
We are so thankful for Theresa, and pray that she attained her goal. It’s now up to us to follow her good example by volunteering, telling others about the station, contributing if we are able, and praying for its success.
Theresa, Requiescat in pace, well done!