Fr. Brooks grew up in Elk Grove, California. His family attended the Traditional Mass at St. Michael’s, a mission chapel in the suburbs of Sacramento. Fr. Brooks went to a number of local schools for his elementary and high school education. His interests were mathematics and tennis; he also enjoyed volunteer work, helping with youth baseball and tutoring the fifth-graders in his mother’s class.
In his early youth, like many boys, Fr. Brooks felt an attraction to the priesthood, but it was in high school that the desire solidified; from a vague inclination, it became a determining influence. This was due primarily to the boys’ camps at St. Aloysius Gonzaga, the priory and retreat house in Los Gatos, California. These camps, which Fr. Brooks attended every summer for four years, put him in close proximity to priests and seminarians and helped him to form a more accurate, lifelike image of what a priestly vocation entails. At the same time, he began to give more serious thought to his future. If the Christian life is all about serving God, he reasoned, and all the rest is merely details, why not choose a state of life in which one achieves this goal as directly as possible? Why not cut right to the essential? Following this line of questions, Fr. Brooks visited the Seminary, made up his mind to come, and did not look back.