Well wishers from parishes, politics, the judiciary and the diplomatic service joined with bishops, priests and religious at a packed St Mary’s Cathedral for a Thanksgiving Mass on 9 December to honour Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Sydney, Terence Brady after his recent retirement after over four decades of service to the Catholic Church in Australia.
In October Pope Francis accepted Bishop Brady’s resignation letter after he had reached the retirement age for bishops of 75.
He was appointed an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Sydney in 2007 after decades of service in parishes and has since made a lasting contribution on many Archdiocesan boards and committees, especially around outreach to the poor and marginalised.
“I started my religious life, journeying with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart as a Brother.”
Delivering the homily at his Thanksgiving Mass, Bishop Terry as he is affectionately known, emphasised that he had felt a calling to serve the needy from a young age, volunteering as a Year 8 student at De La Salle College Cronulla to help at the Matt Talbot hostel for homeless men.
“I started my religious life, journeying with the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart as a Brother. But I got this tremendous drive, half way through that training to want to become a priest and I couldn’t get it out of my head”, he told the congregation.
Bishop Brady was ordained a priest in 1983 and ministered in Liverpool, Strathfield, Kingsgrove and Neutral Bay-Clifton Gardens-Mosman and was later bishop-in-residence at Balmain-Rozelle.
His broad service across Archdiocesan boards and committees has included a stint as Episcopal Vicar for Health, Welfare and Social Justice, the Homelessness Taskforce, the Catholic Cemeteries Board and most recently the Archdiocesan Plenary Council Working Party.
Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP said Bishop Brady has left an indelible mark on Sydney and challenged us all to reach out to the needy, inspired by Pope Francis’ call to minister to “the people on the peripheries of society who are at the very heart of the Church”.
“He has been a regular at the Matthew Talbot hostel and with the St Vincent De Paul Society, with ministries to the homeless, prisoners, the sick, refugees, the Indigenous … He is a man who gives his ministry his all”, he said.
“I remember the frequent home visits from then Father Terry and Fr John McSweeney where they would target certain streets in the parish with their visits to offer prayers for the residents and this practice still exists today.”
Archbishop Fisher said in Bishop Brady he can see a great similarity with the pioneer, Irish-born priest, Fr John Joseph Therry who ministered to Catholics across NSW in the 19th century.
“[Fr Therry] was by all accounts a man who saw Jesus in the poor and lowly, who dedicated himself to the destitute and dispirited, a fighter who sought to bring God’s tender love to the people of our city whatever the cost”, he explained.
“God, in his mysterious and gracious providence, sent another influential, Irish-infused Terry in the subsequent centuries: Terry Brady”.
Tributes flowed at the Thanksgiving Mass for Bishop Brady from parishioners who praised the lasting legacy he left in each of the communities he served.
Elizabeth Denny remembers Bishop Brady well from her period as a teacher at St Ursula’s College in Kingsgrove and a parishioner at Our Lady of Fatima Kingsgrove where Bishop Brady served from 1990-2004.
“I remember the frequent home visits from then Father Terry and Fr John McSweeney where they would target certain streets in the parish with their visits to offer prayers for the residents and this practice still exists today”, she told the congregation at the Thanksgiving Mass.
“There’s so much credibility and authenticity to him and he really takes Pope Francis’ words to heart, particularly around serving the poor and those on the margins.”
“Bishop Terry is ever watchful to see the face of Jesus in anyone he meets or connects with, particularly the stranger or the outsider.”
As facilitator of David’s Place, an inner city space for Sydney’s homeless and marginalised, Ms Sue Buckingham said she has seen Bishop Brady’s’s great pastoral care first-hand.
“He would often come here to David’s Place for our Easter ceremonies and come to our Christmas parties where he always made an effort to speak with everyone and respected everyone. His whole ministry is centered on love”, she said.
Sr Jo Brady RSJ has worked closely with Bishop Terry on the Plenary Council Working Group and she said he will be sorely missed.
“There’s so much credibility and authenticity to him and he really takes Pope Francis’ words to heart, particularly around serving the poor and those on the margins. He lives that message out every day and it’s never lip service with him”, she said.
Bishop Brady said he is very much hoping to continue his outreach to those in greatest need in retirement.
“I’d certainly have to say that they’ve looked after me very well with extraordinary kindness – the nurses, doctors and staff … So I’d now like to give a bit back.”
“I used to say through my years in ministry that if I’m still kicking when it came to retirement, I would like to work in pastoral care and chaplaincy around St Vincent’s Healthcare”, he said.
“I’d certainly have to say that they’ve looked after me very well with extraordinary kindness – the nurses, doctors and staff and I’m indebted to them for that.
“So I’d now like to give a bit back, whether in healthcare, to the homeless through Matt Talbot hostel and in prison ministry”.