Bromley inspired by those who remain faithful
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.”
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.