Brom­ley in­spired by those who re­main faith­ful

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Yes, the United Church. “Some priests thought that wasn’t quite kosher. That I should spend my time do­ing some­thing more use­ful rather than play­ing Pe­ter Seeger on the ra­dio,” Brom­ley said.

“All I can say is it was great, great fun and I made a lot of friends.”

Brom­ley has a weighty voice that’s made for ra­dio, and ad­mit­ted that if he didn’t be­come a priest, he likely would have pur­sued a ca­reer as a broad­caster.

“I al­ways had two am­bi­tions, so at that time I de­cided I could do both,” he ex­plained.

So why did he be­come a priest? Be­cause he felt it was the right thing to do, noth­ing more, noth­ing less. And 50 years ago, set­ting out to be­come a priest was much more de­sir­able than it is to­day.

“I didn’t have any great thoughts of sav­ing the world; maybe sav­ing my own soul,” he said.

Keep­ing the faith

Dur­ing his half-cen­tury in the priest­hood, Brom­ley and other church lead­ers have en­dured a great deal, in­clud­ing high pro­file scan­dals re­lated to sex­ual and phys­i­cal abuse, a thin­ning out of con­gre­ga­tions as young peo­ple turn away from the faith, the re­moval of de­nom­i­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion from the school sys­tem, and the clos­ing or con­sol­i­da­tion of churches, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas.

Brom­ley ad­mit­ted it hasn’t been easy, but said his faith or his com­mit­ment to the church has never wa­vered.

For him, “noth­ing has changed,” de­spite what he de­scribed as “naughty deeds” by some church lead­ers, in­clud­ing his old friend, dis­graced bishop Ray­mond La­hey.

“I con­tinue to be­lieve the same way I did be­fore, with a few skep­ti­cal doubts here and there,” he said.

Brom­ley said it is “some­what painful” that young peo­ple are turn­ing away from the church. It’s not un­com­mon to go to a church ser­vice and be hard-pressed to see any­one un­der 50 years-of-age.

He is in­spired by those who re­main true to their faith, and con­tinue to make great con­tri­bu­tions to the church. He sin­gled out the late An­gela Collins, whom he de­scribed as a “won­der­ful sac­ristan” at St. Pa­trick’s church.

“I have a cer­tain sad­ness about peo­ple who have been at­tached to priests, for ex­am­ple, at­tached to the church for per­sonal rea­sons, who have been let down very badly. That has not been my case. But I do have a cer­tain sym­pa­thy. I feel sorry for those who have left the church, and I’m sorry for the whole sit­u­a­tion,” he said.

An­other sign of the times is the short­age of home-grown priests. A grow­ing num­ber of church lead­ers in this prov­ince come from coun­tries such as the Philip­pines.

Brom­ley re­mem­bers a time when priests from this prov­ince would take on mis­sions in Africa.

As for the fu­ture of the church, Brom­ley said he’ll leave that ques­tion to those who fol­low in his foot­steps. He places his trust in the Lord, but noted that the church has re­cov­ered from tough times in the past. He speaks of a “rem­nant” that he hopes will help the church bounce back, much like the Jewish peo­ple did, though he ad­mit­ted, “Not in my time.”

ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

This is a fa­mil­iar pose for Msgr. Ed­ward T. Brom­ley, who is seen here stand­ing at the pul­pit in St. Pa­trick’s Ro­man Catholic Church in Car­bon­ear. Brom­ley has been the parish priest in Car­bon­ear for a decade.

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