With his strong ties to England, it was only fitting that Father Alexander Bradshaw was ordained on the Feast Day of St. John Fisher, the English saint who is patron of the Diocese of Rochester. Bishop Matthew H. Clark performed the ordination on. June 22, 1985, at Brockport’s Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church.
Exactly a quarter century later, Father Bradshaw celebrated his jubilee of ordination during a Mass concelebrated by Bishop Clark and New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan on the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Diocese of Rochester.
And after he retires in June, Father Bradshaw will live at St. John of Rochester Parish, which also is named for St. John Fisher.
"(In the fall) I will lead a group from St. John of Rochester to England to follow in the footsteps of St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More and St. John Henry Newman," Father Bradshaw noted.
Born in Egypt to an English diplomat, Father Bradshaw studied at England’s Ampleforth College, York, and Oriel College, Oxford, before being called in 1965 to the English Bar as a barrister of the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, London. He came to Rochester in 1975, where he joined the law firm of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans and Doyle, and was admitted to the Bar of the State of New York the following year. He practiced law in Rochester for five years and attended Brighton’s St. Thomas More Parish, where he was a member of the parish council.
Father Bradshaw, who has two daughters from a marriage that ended in an annulment, said his call to be a priest dates back many years. He studied at St. Bernard’s Seminary (1980-81) and received his bachelor’s degree in sacred theology from Rome’s Gregorian University in 1983.
He served as a transitional deacon at Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany and in the Diocese of Kakamega, Kenya.
After ordination, he returned to Rome to earn a licentiate in sacred theology, specializing in biblical theology, at Gregorian University. Then he was a priest intern at St. John of Rochester Parish from 1986-89, and was pastor of Holy Ghost Parish in Gates (1989-2000). He has been at Our Mother of Sorrows in Greece since 2000.
"The beautiful thing about being a priest is the privileged access you have in people’s lives, the trust that is given to you, the affection with which you are held," Father Bradshaw said.
He said he has felt privileged to preside at the Eucharist, celebrate the sacraments and minister to people.
"The atmosphere within which we function as priests is as loving an atmosphere as one would hope to be in," Father Bradshaw said.
He said a small reception to mark his retirement would take place after Masses in June.