Fr John Brady died peacefully in Kiltegan on the morning of the 14th of September, 2010 attended by his sister, Sr Mel MMM. He was 88 years old and had been resident in Kiltegan since he retired in 1993. He was a distinguished figure, slim, ramrod straight and over six feet tall. He was one of the few Society priests who never ministered south of the Equator. This was due to a mysterious health problem indicated by jaundice. He wrote in his memoirs that after a week of tests in the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, ‘a young doctor sat me down at my discharge and said the news was not good. On the basis of the test results I could not anticipate living a long life. But, if I could manage to live in hygienic conditions with good food etc., I might manage to justify my ordination’. At the time of that rather inaccurate prediction, John was studying at University College Cork and living in the Society’s student hostel in Douglas.
He had come to Kiltegan in 1940, after attending St Mel’s College, Longford. His family home was in Mullinroe near Dring, Co Longford. After the normal study and preparation, John was ordained in Kiltegan on the 9th of March, 1947 by Bishop Charles Heerey CSSp, Vicar Apostolic of Onitsha-Owerri, Nigeria. He was sent to Cork after ordination to “mind the house” which had been purchased a short time previously. When the first group of students arrived and enrolled in UCC, John joined them in college and graduated with a BSc. degree in 1950. He was then given temporary chaplaincy work in the Curragh Army Camp and stayed there for a year. He learned to play golf there but gave it up when another priest criticised his style of play. He was recalled to Kiltegan to teach Sacred Scripture in the seminary in a temporary capacity. After two years struggling to teach a subject that he was not qualified to teach, he was appointed to promotion work in the USA. At first, he lived in the Society house in Camden and remained there until the Society purchased another house in Cliffside Park, adjacent to New York City. John was involved in the purchase of the house and in its renovation. He took part in all aspects of promotion work, preaching in parishes at weekends, organising bingo, attending benefit dances, keeping in touch with promoters and attending funerals. John’s greatest contribution, however, was to set up an office system to coordinate the fundraising activities. He also established strong and very valuable links with the directors of the Propagation of the Faith in every diocese in New England and the mid-Atlantic States. He served as Director of the Propagation of the Faith in Trenton Diocese for a short period around 1970.In 1979, John was appointed Procurator General of the Society in Rome. His chief duty was to represent the Society in dealings with the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. He was also responsible for the two adjoining apartments which served as a base for the Society in Rome. It was a busy place at the time with a number of student-priests residing there and others calling in on their way to or from the missions. He used his considerable talents at DIY to keep the apartment in good order. He held that post until 1993 when at the age of 71 he decided to retire to Kiltegan.
His retirement lasted 17 years. For most of that time he was active and able to drive. He visited his family on occasion and took an annual holiday, usually in Bettystown, Co Meath with Sr Mel. His last few years were difficult as he grew increasingly senile. Through it all, John continued to display his courteous and gentle nature. His funeral in Kiltegan was a joyful celebration of John’s long and fruitful life. On the evening of the removal, his musically gifted family played, sang and danced to celebrate the life of their much loved uncle. They made an exceptional contribution to the funeral Mass, giving Fr John the memorable send-off that he so richly deserved.
Place of Rest: Kiltegan