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CC Alumnus Deacon Patrick Bruen '51 And Wife Irene Celebrate Nearly 70 Valentine's Days Together

When you have been married nearly 70 years who counts Valentine’s days? It is probably not Patrick and Irene Bruen, residents of Beaumont Commons. Instead, they count seven children, 19 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren.

Longtime residents of Dearborn, this energetic couple met more than 70 years ago at Mt. Carmel Mercy Hospital in Detroit.

“I came from my home in Lake Leelanau, Mich., to Detroit to study nursing at Mt. Carmel Mercy and did my clinicals in different departments at the hospital,” said Irene. Patrick then described how he worked a variety of jobs at the hospital beginning in high school at Detroit Catholic Central through college at the University of Detroit.

He was working in the emergency room, when one of the nuns sent Irene there to be treated for poison ivy.

She added, “When he later called me for a date, I didn’t even know who he was, because his nickname in the emergency room was ‘Paddy’ not Patrick.”

After dating and Irene’s graduation from nursing school, the couple married in June 1955, at St. Mary’s Church in Lake Leelanau. They lived in Dearborn and had six children in six years, including a set of twins. Their seventh child was born nine years later.

With a degree in nursing, Irene’s role was complete with child raising while Patrick’s studies in business led him to work in accounting at General Motors, and in sales with several large companies.

When asked about their secret to a long marriage, he jokingly said, “She does everything I tell her to do,” and she just as quickly replied, “And he has a good sense of humor.”

Sincerely, she said, “A strong faith.”

This bond of faith was revealed when her husband became Deacon Patrick after attending seminary at Orchard Lake and also earning a MA degree in theology from the University of Detroit. 

“I don’t know how he did it,” said his wife. “He worked all day and came home at night to study at the dining room table. You know that with six kids running around there was always chaos, but he stayed focused.” 

Ordained as a deacon 45 years ago, he spent 18 years with Rev. Fr. John Childs at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Dearborn and served later with Rev. Fr. John Hedges in Wyandotte and at St. Stephen Catholic Church in New Boston.

He said, “I officially retired as a Deacon a few months ago.”

According to his faithful Valentine, her husband also managed to balance their ever-increasing family, work and pastoral care with taking computer classes at Henry Ford College.

He shared, “After the classes, I was offered a job teaching computer classes on the Dearborn campus – first part-time and later full-time until I was 82.”

In 2023, the Bruens, both 90 years old, realized their house was too large to manage without help and moved to Beaumont Commons – into an apartment large enough to include office space for Deacon Patrick.

The move has not changed their active lifestyle. He continues to manage a men’s weekly prayer breakfast in Dearborn.  Both are members of the Community of God’s Mercy that meets at nearby St. Kateri Catholic Church. She is also a daily visitor to a friend now in nursing care.

While on campus, Irene attends exercise classes and special events while her husband spends time on his office computer. They both enjoy reading and having dinner with other residents.

Asked about doing anything special for Valentine’s Day, Irene shared how they recently enjoyed the special surf and turf Valentine’s dinner for residents.

For this couple, 70 years of Valentine’s days is another way to count the sweetness of 70 years of family, faith and friends. 

Beaumont Commons, Dearborn, offers one- and two -bedroom apartments within a beautiful 29-acre financially secure retirement community that includes exquisite landscaping, nature trails and scenic views along the historic Rouge River Gateway in Dearborn. Located at 16351 Rotunda Drive, the community includes exceptional amenities for independent living as well as assisted living and memory care. Beaumont Rehabilitation and Continuing Care is also available for those with additional needs. For more information, call 800-642-4663 or visit

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