Only a few days after Argyle & the Isles Diocese buried one of its best known and much loved priests, Fr. Calum MacLellan, the Archdiocese of Glasgow faced a similar task with the funeral of Fr. Bob Bradley, who was a stalwart of the Justice & Peace movement in Glasgow and nationally, as well as a significant figure in spreading understanding of the documents of Vatican II.
His funeral Mass was held on 23 July at Our Lady & St. George’s Parish, and the esteem in which he was held was witnessed by the crowded church, with the congregation spilling over into the choir loft and the concelebrants filling the sanctuary and the front pews – and that despite the pouring rain. Archbishop Conti was principal concelebrant, and members of the St. Mungo Singers and the parish choir led the music of the liturgy.
Archbishop Conti, in welcoming those present (including, he noted, a number of priests who had come out of retirement to be present), highlighted Fr. Bob’s significant contribution to the Archdiocese, particularly his substantial support for the reforms of Vatican II, the role of the laity and the work of Justice & Peace.
Mgr. John Gilmartin, in commencing the homily, commented that this would not be a eulogy, for to do so properly would require much longer than the time available. He described Fr. Bob as one of the greatest priests of his generation in the archdiocese. He had been ordained in 1947 and, on his return from completing his Doctor of Divinity studies inRome, had served in St. Eunan’s parish before going to teach at St. Peter’s College. His time there coincided with Vatican II and his total involvement in the documents of the Council left an indelible impression on his students.However he was not just an academic. His was a deep personal faith and as a Spiritual Director, he was demanding but also caring and sensitive. He subsequently became Parish Priest of Our Lady & St. George’s where he served for 21 years until his retirement, and a further 6 years in residence there. He had vision balanced with reality, and was a major figure in the development of the Pastoral Plan in the Archdiocese, and in spreading its influence into other dioceses. His life was grounded in the Beatitudes and the vision of Vatican II.
At the end of the service, as Fr. Bob’s favourite hymn “City of God” was sung, the congregation lined the exit from the church and there was a spontaneous outbreak of clapping as the hearse left the grounds. One lady was heard to express what was doubtless the views of those present: “we’ll not see another priest like him”.
Requiescant in pace, Fr. Bob.