March 13-19, 2003
‘God Love Ya’
By Howie Mansfield
Diocese Commemorates 25th Anniversary of Msgr. Charles Brady’s Death
Msgr. Charles Brady left his mark on the Syracuse Diocese. Twenty-five years after his death, Msgr. Brady’s influence is still felt profoundly by those who knew him and who benefit from his work. Hundreds filled the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse on March 8 to celebrate the Brady Memorial Liturgy, commemorating the 25th anniversary of Msgr. Brady’s passing. Bishop Thomas Costello, a close friend of Msgr. Brady, was the main celebrant for the liturgy.
“Twenty-five years ago today, Charlie Brady’s work was done,” Bishop Costello said. “Msgr. Brady said, ‘It’s not my work, it’s God’s work.’ One of God’s ministers taught us the true meaning of love, ‘God love ya.’” The Cathedral was packed with friends, family and those who were ministered to by Msgr. Brady during his tenure as the city missioner at the Bishop Foery Foundation. Also attending were children from the Brady Faith Center, kids from the southwest part of the city who are being cared for in the tradition of Msgr. Brady.
Ralph Jones, diocesan director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries, delivered a reflection on his experience with Msgr. Brady. Jones said he was about three years old when he first met Msgr. Brady. “I remember Msgr. Brady walking my mother and me home after she went to the novena,” Jones said. “I was part of that family at the Bishop Foery Foundation on Forman Avenue.”
Jones shared moments of how Msgr. Brady kept him focused on Jesus throughout the tough times. “This wonderful, saintly man had an impact on my life, and he did it quietly and subtly. He planted the seed in me, he empowered me, but first he empowered the adults — blacks and whites — to help us,” Jones said. “He made everyone believe in the goodness of the Almighty. When I thought I was lost, he guided me. When I despaired, he gave me his love.” Jones said he was able to raise his four children because of the influence of Msgr. Brady. “God blessed me with four young people to guide, empower, nurture and love. I learned how to teach them and empower them, the way Msgr. Brady did with me,” commented Jones. “They say I’m a late bloomer. But I guess it’s better to bloom late than not at all.”
As Jones concluded his reflection, he called the adults who knew and loved Msgr. Brady to keep his spirit alive in future generations. “We will never forget, but we need to pass on in word and deed what he taught us.” After the service, a brunch was held at the OnCenter in honor of Msgr. Brady. The brunch was free and open to the public. Some members of Msgr. Brady’s family also gathered at the OnCenter. They said he was a gentle, loving man.
“Uncle Charlie used to take us places. He came right with us. We had summer vacations together on the family farm in Sangerfield,” said niece Eileen Brady Nicalek, a parishioner at St. Mark’s Church in North Utica. “He always made it fun for our family. We had Mass out in these big tents.” Another relative, Sheila Brady, commented, “He had unconditional love for everyone.” Sheila held a fundraiser in Old Forge last summer and raised $3,500 for the Brady Faith Center, in honor of Msgr. Brady.
Judy Williams, a cousin of Msgr. Brady and parishioner of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Utica, said he inspired many people with his love. “Everyone was always ‘Gorgeous Little’ after he knew you,” said Williams. “You knew you were always loved by Father Brady.” Father John Schopfer, director of the Brady Faith Center, said one can never replace Msgr. Brady, only try to do the best they can. ”It’s truly an awesome spiritual experience to try and continue the role of Father Brady, but it always brings you back to prayer. You can’t succeed a person like Father Brady, but you can ask God for the grace to walk the walk,” Father Schopfer said. “With the people’s help, you can walk the walk.”