Father Bruce Charles Byrolly went home to the Lord on Christmas day 2020 in Cambridge Md. He was 88. 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, Conn., 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, Conn., by Bishop Bernard Flanagan.
He was first assigned as associate pastor to Our Lady of Fatima Church, New Castle. 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. 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, 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 Beach. In 1988, he took sabbatical leave at Weston, Cambridge, Mass. In 1989, he was appointed pastor to St. Luke Church, Ocean City, Md. In 1991, he became pastor of St. Mary, Refuge of Sinners Church in Cambridge, Md. 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, Father Bruce, Father 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, Conn., and Mark (Karen) Clarke of Fairfield, CT as well as his nieces Suzannah Nutbrown of Stratham, N.H. and Sarah (Jonathan) Sawitsky of Milford, Conn., 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, Dec. 30, 2020 beginning 11 a.m. at St. Marys, Refuge of Sinners Catholic Church Cemetery, 1515 Glasgow Street, Cambridge, Md. 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, Md.
To share online condolences with the family, please visit www.newcombcollins.com