Swan man switches teams

Formerly chief executive of the old South Melbourne Football Club, now the AFL's Sydney Swans, Noel Brady, today has 18 teams of a different kind to manage in his role as a parish priest in Melbourne's West.

Kairos reports that Fr Brady, parish priest at Resurrection in St Albans West, is celebrating 15 years since his ordination at St Patrick's Cathedral.

But before donning the collar, he has worn many different hats during his working life.

His first job was working as a personnel officer at a printing company. He was later involved in the Coburg Football Club, until he became a promotions officer at Carlton Football Club. From 1967 to 1972 he was chief executive at South Melbourne Football Club. He has also owned and operated hotels, dabbled in real estate, been a newsagent and was even a bookie in the country before finishing up on the rails at Flemington.

His decision to join the priesthood was made over a long period of time. He was 49 when he was ordained, and he has never regretted it, Kairos says.

It was travelling with an American priest while on a bus tour around Europe in 1972 that set Fr Noel's vocation call in motion. On the tour, he became friends with a couple from Hawaii and a man named Larry White.

"When we got to Rome, Larry asked us if we wanted to go to a Papal audience. Larry turned up in his clerics. Until that point we didn't know he was a priest," says Fr Noel.

He kept in touch with his travelling companions and in 1984 he visited Fr Larry in America, who suggested that the priesthood might be a good choice for him.

Two years later, Fr Larry came to Australia and was "more persistent" in encouraging Fr Noel to consider his vocation.

"He told me about the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Tucson that catered for second career vocations. The average age of the seminarians there was 43. He gave me the address of the seminary. I wrote to them and they wrote back with some information," says Fr Noel.

He entered the seminary at age 44.

Fr Brady has now been at Resurrection parish for nine and a half years. The parish is known for its hospitality. There is a welcome desk at the entrance where newcomers can pick up a welcome pack, full of information about the parish.

At the end of each Mass, people sit down in the cafe-like gathering area, complete with a coffee machine. The parish office is open seven days a week.

After 15 years as a priest, Fr Noel's career-changing days are certainly over. "I've enjoyed all those things," says Fr Noel, "but I enjoy being a priest too!"

Trading Places (Kairos, 24/6/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Resurrection Parish, St Albans
Sydney Swans
Sydney Swans (Wikipedia)

Pell blessing for Sydney Swans (CathNews, 23/9/05)

22 Jun 2007