Monsignor Joseph P. Bradley, 87, led two parishes

July 18, 1999|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Monsignor Joseph Paul Bradley, a Roman Catholic priest who helped nurture the growth of two suburban parishes, died Thursday of kidney failure at Stella Maris Hospice. He was 87 and lived in North Baltimore.

As the pastor of St. John's parish in Hydes for 26 years, he served the northeast section of Baltimore County and Fallston in Harford County. He built St. John's from a small country chapel into a large suburban church and ran St. Mark's in Fallston as a mission until it gained independent status.

"He had two great loves," said the Rev. Edward B. Hemler, pastor of St. Mark's Church in Fallston. "One was his family, the other was the priesthood. And he could talk and talk, tell the stories he loved to tell."

His assignment with St. John's began in early 1957. It remained the first and only pastorate of his career.

"As a pastor he had a deep affection for his people," said Monsignor W. Francis Malooly, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. "He saw the areas of Baltimore and Harford County grow from small rural communities to relatively large suburban communities."

Born in East Baltimore, Monsignor Bradley grew up in the 2900 block of N. Calvert St., where he lived in a large rowhouse with his parents and eight brothers and sisters.

His older brother, Lee Bradley, who died in 1983, became a Jesuit priest, serving at Loyola Blakefield and Georgetown University. A sister, Elizabeth, was the longtime secretary to Baltimore's Archbishop Michael Curley.

Monsignor Bradley was an altar boy at SS. Philip and James Church in Charles Village before he graduated from Loyola High School. The Rev. Robert Achstetter, then his pastor, wrote a letter in the 1930s recommending the two Bradley brothers to the priesthood: "They are young men of character and are the sons of splendid parents who are practical and estimable Catholics."

Monsignor Bradley had two years at Loyola College before he began his religious studies at the old St. Mary's Seminary on Paca Street. He was sent to Rome, where he completed his education at the North American College. He was ordained a priest there on March 19, 1938.

His first assignment was to Immaculate Conception parish in Washington. He returned to Baltimore in 1944 to St. Martin's Church on Fulton Avenue and later St. Paul's, now St. Francis Xavier, on Caroline Street.

Known for his quiet energy and conservative style, he did indulge in a favorite Maryland pastime of visiting a racetrack now and again. He also enjoyed bridge and tennis.

In 1982, after 44 years in the priesthood, he was named a monsignor and retired. He initially lived at Our Lady of Pompei Parish in Highlandtown, then moved to the Broadview Apartments and resided there with his sister, M. Edith Bradley, who survives him.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. John's Church, Long Green Pike, Hydes.

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