Thirty years later, ‘God still loves ya’


Msgr_Brady_archive_photoBrady Faith Center honors those living the mission of Msgr. Charles Brady

by luke eggleston
sun staff writer

Last year, the “God love ya” Awards were initiated to give the Brady Faith Center an opportunity to recognize those individuals, parishes and organizations in the community who have carried on the passion and mission of its namesake, Msgr. Charles Brady. ”God love ya” was a favorite expression of the priest who ministered with such dedication to the people, young and old, on Syracuse’s southwest side.

In addition, it is an opportunity for the center to recognize its victories within the community and to draw inspiration for the coming year.

This year’s “God Love Ya” Awards ceremony will be held Sunday, Oct. 12. The event will begin with a 9:45 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in downtown Syracuse, followed by a breakfast at the Oncenter. WSYR Channel 9 sports director Steve Infanti will be the event’s emcee. This is the 14th Annual Mass and Breakfast celebration for the Brady Faith Center.

The honorees this year include several priests that lived and worked alongside Msgr. Brady, including Bishop Thomas Costello, Msgr. Robert Davern, Father Edward Hayes, Msgr. Charles Fahey and Msgr. John McGraw. Father Champlin’s Guardian Angel Society, which was founded by the late Msgr. Joseph Champlin, will also be honored with a “God Love Ya” Award.

Those in attendance will include supporters of the Brady Faith Center along with those whom the facility serves, as well as honorees.

This year’s event especially will recognize the 30th anniversary of Msgr. Brady’s passing, but Brady Faith Center Executive Director David Allen noted that the emphasis will be a celebration and the legacy of his life and mission. Msgr. Brady’s mission and influence is as relevant today as it was in 1978.

“We have a lot to celebrate. We’re not necessarily remembering his death but, obviously, his life,” Allen said. “It’s a joyous time to celebrate our successes of the year and look forward to the future.”

Allen noted that the Brady Faith Center set new records for its summer program attendance, averaging between 35 and 40 youths attending each day. He also said that the after-school program is filled to capacity. He added that the center’s adult programs remain robust and there has been an increase in attendance at Sunday liturgies.

Msgr. Brady’s legacy is service to the inner-city poor. Initially, he ministered from the Bishop Foery Foundation at 410 Foreman Ave. in Syracuse until the operation was moved to the South Avenue location and into the building for which the ministry is now named.

Father John Schopfer has sustained Msgr. Brady’s mission among the urban poor for nearly three decades. Although he knew Msgr. Brady, he did not work with him. Father Schopfer said he learned about Msgr. Brady’s impact through the stories he was told after he took up the center’s reins.

“You got to know Charlie after he died from what others who were close to him were telling you. They did work with him in the ministry and each one has a story. You put them together and you get to know a person pretty well,” Father Schopfer said.

Father Schopfer said that each of the individuals being honored with “God Love Ya” Awards had helped Msgr. Brady in his mission.

Before his installation as auxiliary bishop, Bishop Costello had been the superintendent of diocesan schools. Msgr. Brady was very supportive of Catholic schools and encouraged the young people he worked with to attend them.

“Bishop Costello, along with all of the priest honorees, lived with Father Brady at 672 W. Onondaga Street, which is right in the neighborhood of the Brady Center and they lived there for many years. They had a nice community of priests,” Father Schopfer said. “They were very supportive, personally, to Father Brady. Bishop Costello was someone who could be there for him and help him through the rough spots and just be present.”

Msgr. Davern, Father Schopfer explained, had a knack for keeping Msgr. Brady’s mission focused and on target.

“He’s a brilliant mind,” Father Schopfer said. “He had the overall picture of it. He could help advise him on how to get things done and the basic requirements of that. Nobody has a vision like Bob Davern.”

Both Father Hayes and Msgr. McGraw are former chancellors of the diocese who helped Msgr. Brady collaborate with various diocesan offices during his ministry, according to Father Schopfer, and both helped keep his cause under the umbrella of the larger church. Msgr. Fahey, on the other hand, was instrumental in establishing Loretto and his mission mirrored Msgr. Brady’s in many ways.

“These are truly brilliant people,” Father Schopfer said. “They have amazing hearts, these guys.”
Father Champlin’s Guardian Angel Society is interconnected with the Brady Faith Center as both look to help Syracuse’s urban poor. The society provides scholarships to students from the Cathedral Academy at Pompei who would like to continue their Catholic education at one of Syracuse’s Catholic high schools such as Christian Brothers Academy, Bishop Ludden or Bishop Grimes.

“We feel this award in particular is for people who, even if they didn’t know Msgr. Brady, really have carried on Msgr. Brady’s mission, his legacy,” Allen said. “We felt that the Guardian Angel Society and certainly Msgr. Champlin have done that. They’ve picked up particularly with education to ensure that the poor children and youth of our community have the opportunity to avail themselves of a wonderful Catholic education. It is surely consistent with Msgr. Brady’s mission, if you will, so we thought that it was important to recognize them.”

Allen stressed that while the staff at the Brady Faith Center is proud of its success, it is not content to rest on its laurels. The center hopes to expand its outreach in the near future and extend the legacy of Msgr. Brady.

“It all started because Msgr. Brady had this wonderful passion for serving people and ministering to them where they lived and where they worked. And, Father John’s been doing just that for the last 29 years. I’ve been blessed to be there for the last couple of years,” Allen said. “But we have to keep it going. This didn’t end with Msgr. Brady dying and it won’t end when we’re gone. It’s still going to be there. It’s something that the church has to address and all of us have to address.”

Those wishing to attend the event may obtain tickets or more information by calling (315) 478-7937, (315) 682-5032 or (315) 472-9077. Tickets for the breakfast are $25 and the public is encouraged to attend.

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