Biographies

Sister M. Colombiere Bradley, MM

Born: September 18, 1900
Entered: October 15, 1926
Died: June 24, 1983

We come together this morning as family and Community to celebrate the Liturgy of the Resurrection for our Sister Mary Colombiere Bradley. Sister died shortly after midnight on June 24, 1983 in our Maryknoll Nursing Home. Our Sisters and nurses accompanied her during her last hours as she gratefully and peacefully went to the Lord, the source of her great joy.

Catherine Frances Bradley was born September 18, 1900 in Brooklyn, New York. She was the second youngest of 6 children born to James and Katherine Bradley. Her mother died when Catherine was young, and her sister, May, helped to raise her. Catherine attended Sacred Heart School and St. Joseph’s Commercial High School. For 8 years she worked in the office of a Public Accountant firm in New York City before entering Maryknoll on October 15, 1926. During the recent celebrations commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, Sister Colombiere reminisced about her frequent walks from work over the bridge to her home in Brooklyn.

At her formal Reception, Catherine received her religious name “Mary Colombiere.” She made her first profession of vows on April 30, 1929. In 1932 she was assigned to China; on April 30th that same year, she pronounced her final vows in Yeungkong. Sister Colombiere’s apostolate in China included catechetical work, home visiting, caring for children in the Orphanage at Loting; and always there was need for her secretarial skills.

Along with other Maryknollers in Loting, China, Sister Colombiere experienced harassment by soldiers and was imprisoned from Christmas 1950 until the summer of the following year when she and her companion missioners were expelled for breaking the laws of the New China and because so many babies died at their Orphanage. Sister’s account of her experiences closed with thanksgiving for all the prayers and sacrifices offered for them and with gratitude to “…our dear Lord and His Blessed Mother who took such good care of us and ask His mercy for those we left behind!”

After Sister’s return to the Motherhouse in 1951, she served in our Vestment Department for a few years until her assignment in 1956 to our Chinatown Mission in New York City, where she continued in mission among her beloved Chinese until 1967. From 1967 to 1974 she did secretarial work in the Promotion Department here at The Center. In 1974 she was assigned to Monrovia, California. Six years later, in 1980, on medical advice, Sister Mary Colombiere returned to The Center for admission into Maryknoll Nursing Home. It was characteristic of her during all these different changes in ministry and location in her life, to really miss the people she left and in a short time to feel right at home and find everything wonderful.

Although Sister Colombiere had been a patient in the Nursing Home since 1980, she had been acutely ill just a few weeks before her death. Throughout her life she had given freely of her gifts of joy and gratitude to everyone. Her last days of “THANK YOU, DARLING!”, for whatever anyone did for her, were reflective of a habit of a lifetime.

And now, our “darling” Sister Colombiere, as we celebrate your life, we say to you: “All of us are well aware of the zeal and loving spirit which characterized your presence all these years. It won’t be the same without you. Our loss is Heaven’s gain!”

The Celebrants of the Eucharist are Maryknoll Fathers Robert E. Sheridan, and John J. Mihelko.