ALLOUEZ — Deacon Adam Bradley happened to be in his hometown of Antigo on May 27, the day that Fr. Jeremiah Worman was marking the 50-year anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.
“They had a celebration at SS. Mary and Hyacinth for him, so I headed down there,” said Deacon Bradley. “Somebody got a picture of us — 50 years and almost ordained.”
The “almost” tag will be removed on July 1 at St. Mary Church in Ledgeview when he is one of five men ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Green Bay.
“Priesthood ordination is a gift that I’ve been offered and said yes to and will make that yes fulfilled,” said Deacon Bradley. “It’s a gift that is not meant to stay with me. Gifts are meant to be shared with others.”
This past year has been one of preparation, beginning with his summer deacon assignment at St. Jude the Apostle Parish in Oshkosh. Deacon Bradley is thankful for the responsibilities given to him by Fr. Mathew Simonar, pastor.
“He walked with me. I did Communion services. He invited me along for sick calls. I assisted with wedding prep. He was very intentional in making it a learning experience and getting me out doing things,” explained Deacon Bradley. “‘Totus Tuus is coming. They are going to want adoration. You are in charge of that.’ He let me minister to them for everything except confessions and Mass. I sat in on different meetings. He offered me the opportunity to preach a lot.”
He also learned about the priest’s role behind the scenes, including washing out the beverage pitchers and taking out the garbage at the parish picnic.
“We were up until 11:30 (p.m.) doing that stuff,” he said. “It’s important to take initiative, to do things around the parish that some people wouldn’t think is the priest’s job.”
Deacon Bradley, the son of Tom and Laurel Bradley, recalled the first time he considered the priesthood. He was in the fifth grade riding in the car with his father, Bradley Funeral Home owner and funeral director, on their way to empty out the casket selection room for a visitation.
“I asked him, ‘Dad, is it possible for someone to be a priest and a funeral director?’ He said, ‘Probably not, because both are incredibly demanding.’ That was my earliest memory,” explained Deacon Bradley. “I really did not think about it again until I was a junior or senior and Fr. Charlie (Hoffman) asked if I would go to a Project Andrew Dinner.”
Deacon Bradley, whose home parish is St. John the Evangelist in Antigo, attended the dinner, which included Mass and conversations about the priesthood, but he didn’t consider a vocation at that time.
“I thought about it for about 45 seconds,” he said. “I enjoyed hanging out with Fr. Charlie more than the dinner.”
Following high school, Deacon Bradley attended UW-Parkside in Kenosha. He planned on becoming a funeral director. He transferred to UW-Oshkosh for his junior year of college. Prior to the fall semester, he met Fr. Mike Seis, an Antigo native who serves the diocesan mission in the Dominican Republic, at a funeral. Fr. Seis encouraged him to visit the new Newman Center at the university.
“I made a promise to myself that I would check out the Newman Center before I would check out the water ski club, which is strange because I love water skiing” said Deacon Bradley. “I got involved there and attended water ski club like twice. I kept going to the Newman Center.”
He connected with Fr. Quinn Mann at the Newman Center and discerned a call to the priesthood. Deacon Bradley entered Conception Seminary College in Missouri, but struggled with the call due to his plan to be a funeral director.
“I worked in the funeral home for five or six years,” he said. “My grandpa bought it back in the ’50s. The Lord called me to be a priest, and I’m very happy for that. After being in formation for a couple years, I realized that I would have liked being a funeral director, but I don’t think it would have been as fulfilling.”
Benedictine Fr. Xavier Nacke of Conception Seminary will vest Deacon Bradley at the ordination..
“He was a spiritual father to me,” said Deacon Bradley. “He’s the head of spiritual formation. He’s a very wise, humble priest who understands his role in the world. God gives you certain spiritual powerhouses in your life, and he’s one of my priest heroes, along with Fr. Tom Farrell.”
Following two-and-a-half years at Conception, Deacon Bradley spent four years at St. Francis de Sales Seminary near Milwaukee.
“When I first arrived there, they had 17 guys,” he said. “They now have over 40. It’s nice to have friends down there. It became a home away from the diocese.”
Deacon Steve Przedpelski, executive director of Franciscan Peacemakers Street Ministry in Milwaukee, also served as a mentor to Deacon Bradley. The ministry works predominately with women who are struggling with drug abuse and prostitution.
“I received a crash course on the rougher stuff of the human condition,” said Deacon Bradley. “Deacon Steve helped me through that. He is someone who lives out his diaconate for those in need. He is a good example of what it means to serve.”
Deacon Bradley, the second oldest of five children, is thankful for the support of his family. His mother is an author, but he claims that he did not inherit her writing skills, especially when preparing homilies.
The newly ordained Fr. Bradley will serve as parochial vicar at St. Pius X Parish in Appleton. He is familiar with the parish from his time on staff with Catholic Youth Expeditions.
“I’m very excited to celebrate Mass and preach,” he said. “I’m looking forward to the sacraments, confessions. I’m hoping marriage preparation is among my strengths.”
He will call upon some of his experiences at St. Jude the Apostle and St. Joseph Parish in Wauwatosa, where he served the past four years, including the past fall semester as a deacon.
“I was able to do a baptism in May,” he said. “Nothing prepares you for the real thing than the real thing. One family was not Catholic, so they thought it took longer than necessary. The other family thought, ‘This is great, we are so happy to be here.’”
He is ready for more of the real thing.
“It’s the ending of being a seminarian and beginning of my life as a priest,” he said, “but it’s really a diocesan celebration.”