By Sister Kathleen Leary, S.S.J.
Special to The CS&T
BROOMALL – Michael Bradley, director and past president of the St. Patrick’s Day Observance Association, is proud of the theme of this year’s parade: “St. Patrick, lead us to Peace and Prosperity.”
“The marchers and floats will be honoring our fallen police and all those struggling in our present, failing economy,” said Bradley, who marched in his first St. Patrick’s Day parade when his mother was pregnant with him. “My boyhood dream was to one day march in the second oldest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country, right here in Philadelphia. As president, marshal and director for more than 14 years, I’ve walked, encouraged the marchers and been responsible for all aspects of the day, but I’ve never actually marched!”
This year’s parade through the Philadelphia streets will have some added guests.
“My friends kid me whenever I say I’m going to my barber,” he said, “because my hair line is receded, but my barber is really responsible for a special aspect of the parade this year. His son-in-law is a New York police officer in the bagpipers unit, and they’ve agreed to join us on March 15. They will add a touching tribute.”
A member of St. Pius X Parish in Broomall, Bradley, whose philosophy is, “People with great minds talk about ideas; people with average minds talk about events; people with small minds talk about other people,” not only talks about ideas but is tireless in his daily accomplishments.
He has too much to get done in a day to spend time talking about others. “I try to look past people’s personal issues and look at the good in them. I believe it is important to give back to all who have helped you along the way, and I try to live that practice every day,” he said.
According to Kathy McGee Burns, vice-president of events for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, Bradley is a man of many talents, including husband, dad, coach, businessman, Hibernian, commissioner and president of almost every group on which he’s served.
And if that isn’t enough, this enthusiastic, generous, smiling Irishman’s faith is evident in all he says and does. “I am a blessed man,” said the oldest of Michael and Bernadette Sherry Bradley’s eight children. “My parents gave us a love of our Catholic faith and our Irish heritage. I have a great wife, my best friend, Linda, two great sons, Mikey, 17, Colin, 15, a healthy, wonderful family and many loyal friends.
“Linda and the boys and I are very close. We spend a lot of time together because I coach the boys on Cardinal O’Hara’s JV soccer team. The three of them help so much with the preparations and all the preliminary time and work that goes into the parade, as do my friends, John Dougherty and Mike Driscoll,” he said.
But even all that time and energy spent on the parade doesn’t keep this man of faith from running his own flooring company, coaching, fundraising and supporting Cardinal O’Hara High School and his alma mater, Penn State University.
As a member of Penn State Brandywine’s advisory board for more than 20 years, every e-mail he sends has the famous Joe Paterno quote at the bottom, “Believe deep down in your heart that you’re destined to do great things.”
Bradley believes, “If you go to Mass, give back to your religion in time, talent and treasures; go to college and give back to your college by helping other kids to get there; treasure your heritage and family and do good to others. Life is good.”
Sister Kathleen Leary, S.S.J. , is coordinator for vocations for the archdiocesan office for Consecrated Life.