Retired priest more active than ever
Though he’s retired Cincinnati’s Fr. Bramlage isn’t sitting still . . .
Father James Bramlage
Fr. James A. Bramlage recently retired from full-time ministry, consisting of decades of pastoral work and a seven-year administrative stint for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Vacating his longtime post as pastor of the Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains has freed him to pinch-hit for priests throughout the archdiocese, read more books (history and historical fiction, especially), spend more time in the kitchen creating concoctions his friends call gourmet (though he balks at the frou-frou-sounding appellation) and devote more time to serving the chapter he helped found.
Tell us about your call to the priesthood.
I grew up in Dayton, Ohio, in a very Catholic family. I remember my father going to Mass every day before going to work. For my three brothers, two sisters and me, the faith was very much central to our lives growing up. So it wasn’t too surprising I might think about becoming a priest. I began thinking about the priesthood in the fifth or sixth grade, but that idea receded in high school and I pretty much forgot about it till it came time to apply for college. I decided to try the seminary route. So I studied four years at St. Gregory College, then took four years of theology here at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary. I never had second thoughts.
How did you become acquainted with Legatus?
Shortly after I became pastor of the cathedral in ’91, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk told me he’d been approached by George Maley of the Indianapolis Chapter about founding a chapter in Cincinnati. And the archbishop then asked me if I’d look into it and see whether there was enough interest among Catholic businesspeople. I began asking some of the better-known Catholic business leaders in Cincinnati. There was a good bit of interest. In 1993 we began having monthly meetings. Now we’re in our 15th year of being chartered, and we have just under 40 member couples.
What impact has Legatus had on the archdiocese?
Legatus has offered the archdiocese a way of reaching out to Catholic business leaders and saying to them that the Church is here to help you live your Catholic life — to deepen your faith, help you to live it in your personal and business lives. Legatus gives the Church the opportunity to become more involved in their lives.
How would you like to see the chapter progress?
I’d like to see the chapter continue to add new members. We’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg in terms of potential members. The Holy Father just announced that he’s calling for a “Year of Faith” in 2012. Legatus is an excellent way for Catholic business people to respond to the Holy Father’s initiative by devoting themselves to a deeper faith and spreading that faith in our world. I urge them to spend time each day reading and meditating on Scripture, especially the Gospels.
You have a vocation, of course. Any avocations?
Reading and gardening. And I tinker around in the kitchen. Somehow or other the word has gotten out that I’m a gourmet cook. That’s certainly not the reality, but I do enjoy cooking. And I love travel, but don’t have any immediate travel plans. I’d like to be at the Summit next February, though.
Any life lessons you’ve learned as a priest?
Having been a priest for 47 years, what has that taught me? That we need to be positive people. We need to look for the good in people, not the bad. We need to recognize the blessings in our lives and be thankful for them. The key to Christian life is being thankful to God for what he’s done for us.