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Rev. Bruce Byrolly
Reverend Bruce Charles Byrolly went home to the Lord on Christmas day 2020 in Cambridge MD, he was 88 years old. He faithfully and compassionately served the diocese of Wilmington for 62 years. An energetic and active member of society up until his last breath, he loved his calling and celebrated masses right up until he was stricken with COVID-19 in mid-December.
Born in Waterbury CT in 1932, he attended The Taft School. He graduated Yale University with the class of 1954, returning with more vigor every year for his reunions as the proudest alumnus. He completed studies for the priesthood at The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and was ordained on May 15, 1958, at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Norwich, Connecticut by Bishop Bernard Flanagan. He was first assigned as associate pastor to Our Lady of Fatima Church, New Castle, Delaware. In 1964, he was transferred to St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church, Wilmington. In 1967, he became associate pastor to Holy Rosary Church, Claymont, Delaware. In 1968, he was appointed associate pastor to St. Ann Church, Wilmington. He was administrator of St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Church, Wilmington, from 1969 to February 1973. Part of that time, from November 1972, he was simultaneously associate pastor of the Cathedral of St. Peter and administrator of St. Mary, until February 1973, when St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception and St. Patrick, Wilmington, were united as one parish. Remaining at the Cathedral of St. Peter until June 1973, he was assigned to St. John the Baptist–Holy Angels, Newark, Delaware, as associate pastor. In 1974, he was appointed pastor to St. Matthew Church, Wilmington. In 1976, he was transferred as pastor to St. Edmond Church, Rehoboth, Delaware. In 1988, he took sabbatical leave at Weston, Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1989, he was appointed pastor to St. Luke Church, Ocean City, Maryland. In 1991, he became pastor of St. Mary, Refuge of Sinners Church in Cambridge, Maryland. He was a charter member of the Diocesan Liturgical Commission, a member of The Dialog Board, a diocesan representative to the Delmarva Ecumenical Agency, a diocesan representative to Project Equality. He served as chairperson of the Eastern Shore Religious Education Co-op.
While he was officially retired, anyone and everyone who knew Bruce, Fr. Bruce, Fr. Byrolly or Uncle knows that he never really retired. One need only to google his twitter handle to see that he was always on an adventure, seeking knowledge, posting his opinions on message boards, taking college classes or reading the next great book. He was always in search of the next great walking tour, cemetery or obscure stained-glass window. Bruce loved art and was a fan of architecture, literature and classical music. He never left home without his bible, a thermos filled with coffee, his kindle and often his portable electronic piano. He was a professional conversationalist who drank his coffee from a cup on a saucer, agonized over mastering his piano lessons and would drive thousands of miles each year to see friends and family up and down the eastern seaboard during his epic annual summer excursions. He methodically planned and undertook these trips even in 2020 with itineraries more jammed packed than those of a head of state. Nevertheless, he would always find time to stop for coffee or a quick bite to eat with friends and family between Music on the Mountain or any one or more of his retreats, weddings and piano camps. He wasn't afraid to try anything no matter how difficult and lost more cell phones and kindles than can be imagined.
An ardent traveler throughout his entire life and unphased by a near death experience in his early 80's, he traveled the world in search of adventure including recent trips to Hong Kong, Taipei, Vietnam, Korea and Tokyo during his 86th and 87th years. And, but for the pandemic, he would have been traipsing around Eastern Europe last spring in search of meaningful works of art, headstones and off the beaten path restaurants. He was excited to resume his travels in 2021. All who knew him can attest that he was as unique an individual as any fallen snowflake. While often a serious person he also had a comical side and was known to lay down on his back in the Capitol Rotunda (while wearing his Roman Collar) because that was "truly the only way to observe the Apotheosis of Washington" painted on the ceiling. He loved and adored his parishioners, colleagues, family and friends and was certainly planning on ministering and traveling for many more years to come as was evidenced by his communications with family and friends leading up to and including Christmas eve, but God had another assignment for him.
Bruce prayed daily for all including his colleagues, family, parishioners and friends and for those family and friends he had lost touch with over the years. Bruce would want all to celebrate his life well lived with a loud and heartfelt Amen and for those left behind not to mourn his passing, but to celebrate that he is at home with the Lord where he has always wanted to be and where all the mysteries he has faithfully and passionately pursued for 88 years have finally been revealed.
Remember Bruce in your daily lives by using his favorite phrases’ “Hi-ho!”, and “Holy Sugar!”, and never be afraid to sing loud and in your own key.
Bruce was predeceased by his parents Charles and Margaret Byrolly as well as his twin siblings Donna Byrolly Clarke and Barry Byrolly. Bruce is survived by his devoted nephews Sean (Megan) Clarke of Stratford, CT and Mark (Karen) Clarke of Fairfield, CT as well as his nieces Suzannah Nutbrown of Stratham, NH and Sarah (Jonathan) Sawitsky of Milford, CT, ten great nephews and nieces as well as many many cousins and extended family including Josephine Byrolly and Rosella Longo.
A graveside funeral service will be held on Wednesday, December 30, 2020 beginning 11 a.m. at St. Marys, Refuge of Sinners Catholic Church Cemetery, 1515 Glasgow Street, Cambridge, Maryland, with The Most Reverend W. Francis Malooly, D.D. officiating. Social distancing and face coverings will be required.
A celebration of Bruce's life with all the fanfare, music, pomp and circumstance he requires and would love will take place in the Spring of 2021 with all welcome to attend.
Arrangements entrusted to Newcomb and Collins Funeral Home, P.A., Cambridge, Maryland.
To share online condolences with the family, please visit www.newcombcollins.com
Father Bruce Byrolly was a wonderful family friend. He did so much to help the community. He would often stop by to discuss anything from politics, to family history or ask advice on planting a tree. He was a true friend to George and Augusta Radcliffe and did much to help mom when George Sr. died. During the 5 years that Gussie lived with us Bruce visited her almost every day. He will be greatly missed by many.
George & Jackie Radcliffe Jan 21 2021 12:00 AM
What a wonderful man. He was the priest who married my husband and I many years ago. I can still hear his distinct voice and poignant message that has stayed with us. He blessed our lives and we are grateful. Eternal Peace.
Nancy McCaig Jan 7 2021 12:00 AM
Rest In Peace oh good and faithful servant ! Fr Bruce has been a blessing to my family for many, many years. What a wonderful man he was !
Mike OConnor Jan 2 2021 12:00 AM
Fr. Bruce...a candle for your light to always shine forth...now in heaven and always with us.
Linda and James Dyekman Jan 1 2021 12:00 AM
Fr. Bruce Byrolly was a joy to know. He was kind, considerate and always up for new ways to help. Franciscan Friar,Fr. James Gardiner,SA invited Fr. Bruce to the Christian Unity Service held in St. Clements Episcopal Church in Massey, MD for the Week of Christian Unity Service in 2015. Fr. Paul Wattson, SA, Servant of God, founder of the Friars of the Atonement in Garrison, NY and founder of the Week of Christian Unity...was born in Millington . Fr. Bruce happily brought the Sisters from Ridgely, the evening was so special, and continues today. Fr. Bruce became friends with Pastor Mark Hanson of St. Clements, always willing to go beyond...I will miss seeing him, his smile and his charm. Rest gently good and faithful servant...Linda and James Dyekman, Friars of the Atonement Garrison, NY
Linda and James Dyekman Jan 1 2021 12:00 AM
Father Byrolly, was truly loved by members of St. Marys Church in Wilmington. We always think of him and continued to have conversations about him although he hasnt been with St Marys for many years.
Mowbray Family Jan 1 2021 12:00 AM
Bruce was a dear friend whom I got to know at St. Ann's in Bethany Beach, DE where he ministered in summers and also through his active involvement in Voice of the Faithful. We all welcomed summers when we knew we would see more of Bruce! Though I moved to Notre Dame, IN four years ago, we continued to stay in touch. He was especially a minister to mutual friends Joan and Hugh O'Neill as they dealt with health crises and would often check with me to know what his next step should be with them.I have often told my favorite Bruce story. Casa San Francisco in Milton, DE got the second collection at St. Ann's the first weekend in August every year. Someone who volunteered there made the "pitch" usually in place of a homily. The celebrant usually introduced the speaker, perhaps with a few words about the day/s gospel. One year I was to make the "pitch" so Bruce said: "I recently read that about 57 percent of Catholics would be happy to have a woman priest. Well, I don't have a woman priest, but I have Ronnie Malone who is going to talk to you about Casa San Francisco." Pure Bruce!My sympathy to all of your on your loss of a wonderful man, priest, human being.
Ronnie Malone Dec 30 2020 12:00 AM
Fr. Bruce and I met at the Bishop's Christmas party in 1964, the year I began studying for the Diocese of Wilmington. We hit it off despite our 9+ year difference in age and the many vagaries of our respective lives. I hope Heaven is ready for him.
Fr. Mike Roark Dec 30 2020 12:00 AM
Prayers for the family. A very dedicated, caring person who served on our Cold Weather Shelter Operating Committee for many years, helping to provide services for the homeless in our community. Rest in Peace.
Donna Engle Dec 29 2020 12:00 AM
Bruce-a good Priest and a good man who vibrated with the joy of life.
Nancy Hanmer Dec 29 2020 12:00 AM