Dominicans celebrate Father Bruno Gibson’s “priestly joy”

By Christina Gray

More than two dozen Dominican priests and friars participated in the funeral Mass for Father Bruno Gibson, O.P. on March 18 at St. Dominic Church in San Francisco.

San Francisco-born Father Gibson was an active Dominican priest until three months before his death on March 11 at age 92. One month prior to his death, Father Gibson was featured in a story on the Sacrament of Reconciliation for the Easter issue of Catholic San Francisco.

Dominican Father Michael Dodds was principal celebrant and homilist for the funeral Mass. Attending was Father Gibson’s family, his Dominican family, and generations of Catholics who were touched by his joyful priestly ministry of 64 years.

“His enthusiasm was quite literally unstoppable,” said Father Dodds. “His whole life was marked by a sometimes quiet, sometimes exuberant enthusiasm for all that he loved. He loved the Church with its liturgy and traditions, especially incense. He loved the Dominican order, with its rich history of saints.”

Dominican Father Christopher Fadok added that Father Bruno was the embodiment of the concept that “joy is the conscious possession of a good.”

Born Rodney Gibson in San Francisco on November 7, 1931, to Mary and Frank Gibson, Father Gibson had a brother, Frank, and two sisters Gael (Davitt) and Happy (Kramer).

He graduated from St. James High School in 1949, and then from the University of San Francisco with a post-graduate degree in Architecture from Stanford University in 1953. He entered the Western Dominican Province the same year and studied philosophy and theology in River Forest, Illinois, and at the Priory of St. Albert the Great in Oakland.

After ordination in 1960 as a Dominican friar of the Province of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, he served as a campus minister at the University of Oregon, where he helped design a new campus ministry chapel. As pastor at St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco from 1981-1985, his background in architecture was instrumental in adding the flying buttresses to the church credited for saving it from destruction in the 1989 earthquake. Father Gibson also served in ministries in Seattle, McKenzie Bridge, Eagle Rock, Berkeley, and Riverside, where he was appointed the first superior of the new community. He also spent three years in Kentfield serving the parish of St. Sebastian.

Until December 2023, Father Gibson faithfully served the parishioners at St. Mary Magdalene in Bolinas, a mission church of Sacred Heart Parish in Olema. He traveled from his home in Tiburon each Sunday to preach at the historic Mission Church that draws Catholics from around the Bay Area.

Father Gibson was buried on March 19 at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia, California.

It is a tradition of the Order of Preachers to establish a fund in the name of each of its departed brothers. A donation to this memorial fund will support Dominican brothers in formation, continuing the faithful legacy of our departed brother. To make a gift in memory of Father Bruno Gibson, please use this form.

Father Gibson was buried on March 19 at St. Dominic Cemetery in Benicia, California.