Catholic Courier

Posted: December 21, 2009

Courier photo by Mike Crupi

Father Robert C. Bradler.

'Dean' plans to stay busy

By Mike Latona/Catholic Courier

Father Robert C. Bradler noted that some priests slip quietly into retirement, then quickly asserted that he won't be one of them.

The congenial, energetic priest is known as "The Dean of Irondequoit" -- in part because he's been a pastor in that Rochester suburb for nearly three decades, and also because he's a constant part of the church and community scene. In fact, he considers that public persona to be a vital part of his ministry.

"The presence of the priest is very important. People are drawn to the church by the priest being friendly and outgoing. It's time-consuming, but it means a lot," he explained.

Father Bradler, 72, is retiring after 12 years as pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in northern Irondequoit. He spent the previous 16 years as pastor of St. James Parish, on the southern edge of town.

He grew up in Rochester's Holy Redeemer Parish. He attended St. Andrew's and St. Bernard's seminaries and was ordained June 2, 1962.

He was an assistant pastor at Holy Family, Rochester (1962-64); Immaculate Conception, Ithaca (1964); St. Anne, Rochester (1964-71); St. Augustine, Rochester (1971-73); and Holy Rosary, Rochester (1973-79). In 1979 he assumed the pastorate at St. James, remaining there until his 1995 move to St. Thomas the Apostle.

He has served as a diocesan regional priest coordinator for the past 26 years, as well as chaplain of the Rochester Fire Department since 1969 and president of the Irondequoit Ministerial Association -- a coalition of community churches -- for 10 years.

Though he is leaving St. Thomas the Apostle, he will continue to reside in Irondequoit in his family home. He also will retain his role as diocesan director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, a position he has held since 1982. The office supports mission work around the world.

"I've been to most every parish in this diocese with the mission appeal," he remarked.

Father Bradler plans to assist in parishes from time to time, noting that he'd like to brush up on his Spanish and perhaps celebrate Mass in that language. In addition, he said, "I keep kidding people that I'm going to take up cooking and the computer."

He noted that his first priestly assignment began on June 26, 1962, at 6 p.m., and his final assignment will conclude 45 years later -- to the minute -- this coming June 26.

"It's been a wonderful 45 years. They've gone by really, really fast," he said.

A reception for Father Bradler will take place Sunday, June 3, on the St. Thomas the Apostle campus following the 11:30 a.m. Mass. For details on the event, call 585/342-2323.