Special to The Southern Gazette
A new parish is coming to the Boat Harbour area and it’s going to be a family affair.
Husband and wife Philip and Charlene Bradley were both ordained into the Community Catholic Church of Canada (CCCC) at the Boat Harbour Community Centre on July 14.
Their three daughters were also confirmed at the ordination ceremony.
The CCCC is an inclusive and progressive church that is “open to (all) who wish to worship in an affirming, Christ-centred community,” the website states.
The CCCC has over 30 parishes, mainly in Ontario. This will be the first CCCC parish in Newfoundland and will be known as the St. Brigit’s Community Catholic Church of Canada.
The Bradleys decided to become ordained in the CCCC as numbers in their former church, the Old Catholic Celtic Church, were dwindling.
“It comes down to the simple fact we both felt the need to be more spiritual and to give to other people, as much as possible, a life of acceptance, a life of love. Too many churches exclude people for this, that, or another reason. We just can’t buy into that,” Philip says.
“I chose the priesthood because I want to help people feel included, and to feel like they belong and that they’re loved and accepted unconditionally,” she says.
Instead of hosting CCCC services in a church or building, the Bradleys will travel to those in need of spiritual consultation in Boat Harbour and the neighbouring communities.
Philip, 63, who is originally from Ireland, and Charlene, 40, met through Charlene’s father. After suffering from PTSD from working in law enforcement and correctional services, the Bradleys decided to move from Ontario to Newfoundland six years ago after a friend told Philip “(Newfoundland) is as close as you’ll ever get (to Ireland).”
Now retired and living on a farm, Philip hopes sharing his faith with others can help those who are in need.
“(Going) through PTSD myself, I have a strong draw to work with men and women that are in any first-responder roles," he says.
"Locally, we’re more interested in shut-ins, either in their own homes or nursing homes...I have a correctional services background, and there’s always a draw for me to work with inmates.”
The Bradleys say with most local congregations declining in number, resident’s response for ordained priests has been positive.
“So many people have approached us to ask ‘Will you be active in this area?’ We’ve already been overwhelmed by the local people who have expressed an interest in showing up for this day. They’re coming from away,” Philip says.
Unlike many mainstream Catholic churches, the Bradleys welcome members of the LGBQT community.
“We don’t look at the (sexual orientation) side of it," he says. "What we would look at is if your life in line with the gospel. As long as you’re being faithful where you’re supposed to be, we’re happy to have you.”
CCCC Bishop Thomas Twose, who was flying from Ontario to ordain the Bradleys, says the couple are “refreshing.”
“I think they have a different take. I think they’re gung-ho to really serve the community.”
The Bradleys said their children, Jessica, 13, Siobhan, 11, and Breanna, 9, were also excited for the big day.
“Our oldest girl hates dresses, and she agreed to wear a dress that day,” laughs Philip.
The Bradleys say while they’re more than happy to acquaint people with the CCCC, there is no pressure to join or to convert.
“If people are going to convert...no person can cause that. If they see that connection as an opportunity to get to know Christ, they’ll do it,” says Philip.
“I’ve always said our job is to push on the rock, (but) it’s God’s job to move it.”