Msgr Bradican Division History

Our Division, originally known as Cardinal Cushing Division, was formed on November 15, 1987 as Fairfax County Division Number 2, with authority to hold its meetings in Annandale, Virginia. Significant participants in the organization of the Division included National President Nicholas Murphy, Virginia State President Jerry Gorman, State Secretary Arthur Grimley, State Treasurer Al Maltz, and Fairfax County President Paul Jeffrey.

The Cardinal Cushing Division was organized by Edward C. Kennedy.  The initial officers of the division included:

  • President: Peter J. Walsh
  • Vice President: Joseph L Kennedy
  • Recording Secretary: John J. Crowley
  • Financial Secretary: Edward C. Kennedy
  • Treasurer: Jon Kennedy

In 2004, the Division unanimously voted to change the name of the Division to the Monsignor Francis L. Bradican Division, who had recently passed away.

A history of Msgr Francis L. Bradican (taken from the Arlington Herald):

Msgr. Francis L. Bradican, the senior priest in the Arlington Diocese, died March 31 at a nursing home in Moscow, Pa., after a lengthy illness. He was 92 and had served Virginia Catholics for more than 66 years.

The reception of the body and vigil service took place Thursday, April 3, at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale.

The funeral Mass was offered on Friday, April 4, at 10:30 a.m. at Holy Spirit Church. Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde was the celebrant. Msgr. James W. McMurtrie, pastor of St. Agnes Church in Arlington, was the homilist. Interment took place at Fairfax Memorial Park.

“Among our diocesan priests, Msgr. Bradican held the distinction of being ordained the longest (Dec. 19, 1936),” said Bishop Loverde. “He served faithfully, first in the Diocese of Richmond and then, since 1974, in this diocese. His advice to both older and younger priests was so key to attaining holiness: Keep close to the Lord in prayer. Often in these last few years, I have heard him say: ‘I’m old; why isn’t the Lord taking me home?’ His desire has now been fulfilled. May the Lord, Whom he met daily in prayer and in the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, now welcome him home to enjoy forever the rewards of his pastoral labors among us.”

Frank Bradican was not expected to be a priest for one year, let alone 66. Due to a serious illness, he was ordained in Rome three months earlier than the rest of his class. Seminary officials expected the newly ordained priest was going to die, so he was sent home to Dunmore, Pa., to be with his family. But God had other plans.

Sixty-five years later, after a career of building schools and churches throughout Virginia, Msgr. Bradican celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving at Holy Spirit Church in Annandale on Dec. 19, 2001. The homilist at that Mass, Msgr. McMurtrie, reminded friends, family and about 50 priests that Msgr. Bradican’s great joy as a priest had been building Catholic schools.

Bishop Loverde thanked Msgr. Bradican for asking him to celebrate the anniversary Mass. “You can’t know the joy you bring me, being with you today,” Bishop Loverde told him.

“The group he loves the most in the Church are the children,” Msgr. McMurtrie said. “You’re his children. He loves you. He wants you to know about Jesus, to be able to come to school and talk about Jesus.

“Over the years he has done so much, so much that is unknown, always with a great deal of zest and a great deal of zeal. No one really knows the sacrifices he has made for his people. Sixty-five years — Thank God he didn’t die. The diocese would have lost a treasure,” Msgr. McMurtrie said. “On behalf of all my brother priests, I say thank you.”

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde said Msgr. Bradican’s 65th anniversary was a “unique milestone.” The two embraced and the congregation rose in a long ovation. The children’s choir concluded by singing an old Irish prayer for Msgr. Bradican, “May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be always at your back…until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.”

Born Feb. 7, 1911, Frank Bradican was the youngest of William and Annie Moran Bradican’s 10 children. He grew up in an Irish-Catholic coal mining community. William Bradican urged his seven sons to get an education instead of following him into the coal mines. Joe went to work for the railroad, Bill got a job at a New Jersey shipyard and Albert became a teacher.

Frank attended public schools because there were no Catholic schools in Dunmore. His teachers said he was going to be a priest. “I wanted to make up my own mind,” Msgr. Bradican said. Guided by Richmond Bishop Andrew Brennan, a Pennsylvania native who had served as auxiliary to the Bishop of Scranton, Francis left home for St. Charles Seminary in Catonsville, Md., to study for the Diocese of Richmond. He remembers his mother saying, “If you don’t like it, you can always come home.”

In 1929, Bishop Brennan told Frank to continue his studies at the University of Louvain in Belgium. Catonsville was as far as Francis had ever been from home. He had no idea where Louvain was, but his older brother Albert encouraged him to go.

After Louvain, he was sent to study at the North American College in Rome.  Msgr. Thomas Scannell now retired and residing at a nursing home in Falls Church, and the late Richmond Bishop Louis Flaherty were his classmates. In Rome, they sometimes met Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, Vatican secretary of state, strolling through the Borghese Gardens. “He was very friendly,” Msgr. Bradican once recalled about the future Pope Pius XII.

After regaining his health back home in Dunmore, Father Bradican’s first assignment was St. Elizabeth Parish in Colonial Beach and the missions of Kilmarnock and The Hague during the summer of 1937.

His first permanent appointment was St. Joseph Parish in Martinsburg, W.Va., from 1937-40. Msgr. Bradican recalls the pastor, Msgr. Francis Lackey, as “a great jokester who was good to me.”

From 1940-45, Father Bradican served at Holy Trinity Parish in wartime Norfolk where it was not unusual for him to celebrate four Masses on Sunday. “Those were the days when we fasted from midnight. But we made it,” Msgr. Bradican recalled.

“Father John Bochtrup was a charm. He was so good to me,” Msgr. Bradican said of the pastor at St. Joseph Parish in Petersburg where he served from 1945-51.The Sisters of Charity ran a school in the parish and Msgr. Bradican enjoyed teaching there a few days each week.

After six months as administrator at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Norfolk in 1951, Father Bradican was appointed pastor of Holy Angels Parish in Craddock, near Portsmouth, in 1952. While at Holy Angels, Father Bradican oversaw the building of a parish school served by the Daughters of Wisdom.

Of his 14 years in southern Virginia Msgr. Bradican said, “The people that I worked with were a tremendous help to me and helped me live my priesthood. They were so good. They couldn’t do enough for you.”

Richmond Bishop John J. Russell found another job for Father Bradican in 1959. As founding pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Springfield, he oversaw construction of the school and rectory. Upper grades attended class in rented rooms at Ft. Belvoir and kindergartners in a room at St. Leo School in Fairfax while the school was built. Mass was celebrated at Lee High School in Springfield. The summer before the new school opened, Father Bradican traveled throughout Ireland looking in vain for an order of teaching sisters to staff the school. Once home he contacted the Daughters of Wisdom. The parish remembered his hard work by naming a multi-purpose room in the parish center for Msgr. Bradican in 1987.

Father Bradican was transferred to St. Rita Parish in Alexandria in 1972. “It was a modest parish with the most beautiful church in the diocese and a school too. We put half of the income into the school,” Msgr. Bradican said.

It was near the end of Father Bradican’s 14 years at St. Rita Parish that he was named monsignor on his 75th birthday in 1986. He was invested on March 24 during a Confirmation ceremony at St. Rita Church. In June 1986, Msgr. Bradican retired and took up residence at Holy Spirit Parish in Annandale at the invitation of Msgr. McMurtrie. A yearlong celebration of his golden jubilee culminated in a Mass concelebrated by 18 diocesan priests in St. Rita’s beautiful gothic church on Nov. 22, 1986.

Msgr. Bradican continued to celebrate Mass and do whatever he could to help out at Holy Spirit Parish until he suffered a stroke last August while visiting family in Pennsylvania.

He was a favorite of the Holy Spirit Parish staff. Carol Smith said she had a hard time keeping track of him. He was often out in his new silver Volkswagen Passat, an anniversary and birthday gift from his nephew.

When asked his advice to young priests, Msgr. Bradican said they should, “Pray and ask the Lord to direct them. Study hard. Stay close to the Lord by visiting the Blessed Sacrament often. Make a Holy Hour if they possibly could every day. Have a special devotion to the Blessed Mother. If they do that, they will be sure of a happy priesthood.”