MkeCH remembers "controversial" Milwaukee priest Fr. James Groppi

Inspired by events in other parts of the country, members of the black community and civic and church leaders began to advocate for change. Among these was Fr. James Groppi, a controversial Milwaukee priest who was at the forefront of the city’s struggle for equal rights.

Born in Chicago in 1930, Fr. Groppi and his family soon moved to Milwaukee. He was baptized at Our Lady of Pompeii Church (once located in the “Third Ward”) and later attended Immaculate Conception Church (1023 E. Russell Ave.). As a teenager, Groppi began attending the Capuchins’ St. Lawrence Seminary in Mount Calvary. It was through the influence of the Capuchins that he began to become aware of the plight of the poor.
full article at MkeCH

The Wisconsin Historical Society profiled him back in 2011.  That was the first I learned about Groppi and some of his.... quirks.

The Disqus comment plugin apparently does not fully support Blogger anymore(too bad, I'd pay if it were worthwhile), so I'm working on switching back.   After posting the 2011 article some of the commenters chimed in with stories about Groppi.  Here's one example:
The news cameras were always on him in those turbulent days. One of the tv cameramen was an Italian Catholic who was assigned to follow Groppi and his busload of louts. I personally viewed the footage that, of course, never made the 10 o'clock news. Groppi had a "thing" for black women which, I believe, is another reason he enjoyed his work. He once taunted the Italian cameraman with one of his arms slung over the shoulder of a black woman and fondled her breast. "This is my Virgin Mary," Groppi arrogantly told the shocked cameraman. And he knew that such scenes would remain on the cutting room floor because he knew the media would shield him from the more sordid aspects of his life. In his sexual appetites he is very much like Martin Luther King, another leader who enjoyed the squalid fruits of celebrity.

He ended up suspended (I believe eventually defrocked) and wound up his days a bus driver for the Milwaukee County Transit System. There was a famous true story about a little old lady hobbling onto a bus one day, looking up at the driver and recognizing him as Groppi. Her words to him were to the point: "I hope," she said, "that you are a better bus driver than you were a priest."

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