Or­di­na­tion celebration

Par­ish to com­mem­o­rate half-cen­tury of priest­hood for Msgr. Ed­ward T. Brom­ley


It’s the late 1940s and a young lad is ar­gu­ing with his mother in the tiny, iso­lated fish­ing com­mu­nity of Conche on the North­ern Penin­sula.

The mother, frus­trated at her son’s in­tran­si­gence, warns her off­spring that if he con­tin­ues to mis­be­have, his guardian an­gel will bring him harm.

In­trigued by such a sug­ges­tion, and not one to ac­cept things at face value, the boy de­lib­er­ately gets up to more mis­chief.

He es­capes the wrath of his “an­gel,” but not the con­tin­ued ir­ri­ta­tion of his mother.

‘Doubt­ing Thomas’

It was an early sign that Ed­ward Thomas Brom­ley was not a fol­lower, and was des­tined for some­thing more than a life in the fish­ery.

His mother, the late Mary (Bartlett) Brom­ley, would of­ten comment that her son was aptly named, and reg­u­larly called him “Doubt­ing Thomas,” af­ter the apos­tle who doubted Je­sus’ res­ur­rec­tion.

“I guess I was some­what of a rebel in those days,” Brom­ley, the par­ish pri­est for the his­toric St. Pa­trick’s Ro­man Catholic Par­ish in Car­bon­ear, re­called dur­ing an ex­pan­sive and wide rang­ing in­ter­view last week.

Many years later, that young mav­er­ick is a noted and highly ed­u­cated leader in the Ro­man Catholic church in this prov­ince. He is lauded by his peers and fol­low­ers for what they say is a bril­liant mind, a mas­tery of the English lan­guage, a unique charm and wit, and a de­vo­tion to the church and its teach­ings that has re­mained stead­fast through some chal­leng­ing and dif­fi­cult times.

Mon­signor Brom­ley, to use his for­mal ti­tle, is also get­ting plenty of at­ten­tion th­ese days for his longevity, since this month marks the 50th an­niver­sary, or golden ju­bilee, of his or­di­na­tion to the priest­hood. It’s a rare mile­stone in any pro­fes­sion, but in his trade­mark un­der­stated and sil­ver-tongued fash­ion, the man at the cen­tre of all the at­ten­tion is not tak­ing it too se­ri­ously.

He plans to re­tire in late Au­gust, and ad­mit­ted the time has come for a new chapter in his life.

“I’ll be happy to re­tire,” he of­fered. “I won’t have to worry about roofs leak­ing or base­ments be­ing flooded.”

How­ever, he will miss the spir­i­tual as­pect of par­ish work, es­pe­cially performing wed­dings and bap­tisms. And he’s al­ways felt a priv­i­lege at be­ing able to con­duct a funeral ser­vice.

He plans to move to St. John’s, and has been tapped to min­is­ter to the Pre­sen­ta­tion Sis­ters.

“I’ll do that for as long as I’m rea­son­ably

healthy,” he said.

Well trav­elled

Msgr. Brom­ley has a deep connection to many ar­eas of the prov­ince, hav­ing min­is­tered in nu­mer­ous re­gions (see fact box). In ad­di­tion to be­ing a pri­est, he’s also served as a teacher of phi­los­o­phy and re­li­gious stud­ies, an RC chap­lain and as the ad­min­is­tra­tor and vicar gen­eral of the Arch­dio­cese of St. John’s.

He’s trav­elled ex­ten­sively, stud­ied at some pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions, and met one-on-one with the late Pope John Paul II, whom many de­scribe as the strong­est mod­ern day leader of the church.

“I had great ad­mi­ra­tion for John Paul. So ac­tu­ally sit­ting with him was a great de­light,” Brom­ley noted.

He’s con­ducted count­less church ser­vices, been a spir­i­tual leader to many thou­sands of parish­ioners, and some might say de­fied the odds by even be­com­ing a pri­est.

Early in his quest to be­come a pri­est, some church lead­ers, in­clud­ing the late Bishop John Michael O’Neill of Har­bour Grace, ques­tioned whether Brom­ley was pri­est ma­te­rial.

“I didn’t al­ways ac­cept things he did, and I told him so,” Brom­ley said of his “ul­tra-con­ser­va­tive” su­pe­rior.

Just like his mother, some felt he was too much of a free spirit.

“We’ve ob­vi­ously proved them wrong,” Brom­ley quipped.

Bud­ding broad­caster

Msgr. Brom­ley seemed much hap­pier when he blazed his own path, and was not al­ways prone to con­form­ity. Dur­ing his days as a teacher and chap­lain at Memo­rial Univer­sity, for ex­am­ple, he be­came a vol­un­teer broad­caster with VOWR ra­dio, which is owned by the United Church of Canada.

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