Bishop Edwin Broderick
Bishop Edwin Broderick
Bishop Edwin Broderick gifted lessons in leadership, compassion and spirituality. His shepherding motivated people to enrich their lives.

Give gratitude constantly: Uncle Edwin was devoted to gratitude. He penned thank-you notes for favors, gifts and deeds. His tools entailed note cards, a booklet of stamps and a green Paper Mate flair pen. All three were used daily. He always remembered to thank people swiftly after help or hospitality and would enclose a clipping. People appreciated his thankfulness habits. An official helped me with a favor and I said to Uncle Ed that I would send a Christmas card to thank him. The bishop quipped, “You should send a thank-you note daily.”

Walk daily: This prelate walked daily. His Central Park strolls created friends along his route or crossing paths with Jacqueline Kennedy. The health benefit encourages mindfulness meditation relieving stress and stimulating reflective spirituality. I called him after a massive snowstorm and he was frustrated at being unable to leave the house for his daily walk. Walking gave him comfort, calmness and longevity.
Fundraising is an art: The bishop raised lots of funds. He spearheaded Operation Rice Bowl, while leading Catholic Relief Services (CRS). This initiative supported vulnerable communities for their agricultural projects and gave donors the opportunity to put their faith into action. He always guided; he would say you need to “make people feel good to give.” Fundraising fosters personal values. You make the individual feel important. You motivate benefactors by giving them purpose, passion and penchant.

Celebrate your conclave event: He served as a conclavist in the 1958 ¬≠papal conclave, the second longest conclave in the 20th century. His work as a conclavist for Cardinal Spellman, rewarded him with a deep vision of the Church. This unique experience created a lifetime impact. He reminisced about meeting Saint Pope John XXIII during his first hour as pope. Everyone should celebrate a “conclave” event. Positive events in your life beckon a celebration. We use this spirit to motivate others and enhance our lives.

Gossip produces no gains: The bishop never harbored a tongue for gossip. Pope Francis commented about gossip, “It’s so rotten, gossip. At the beginning, it seems to be something enjoyable and fun, like a piece of candy.  But at the end, it fills the heart with bitterness and also poisons us.” When the bishop encountered gossip, he would exclaim he had “nothing to say” about the item or person.
Study better listening: My uncle listened. He would concentrate on the person, understand their feelings, and empathize with their individual challenges. His deep listening made him a “go-for-advice” bishop.

The bishop listened more than he spoke. His focus on listening stimulated my further learning from my Professor Otto Scharmer of MIT who taught the four levels of listening: Downloading, factual, empathic and generative. The bishop practiced the counsel of listening, helping people manage problems and navigate their futures. 

Do something daily for the misfortunate: He always would think of ways to aid the poor. The Bronx-born prelate encouraged me to do one daily action to help poor people. It could be a call, prayer, contribution, volunteer or reading but aiding the less fortunate remains important work for all.
Give books as gifts: The bishop would treat books, Ad usum, [for use]. He would read and give. He didn’t archive volumes. The average household contains 158 books, and a quarter are not opened. As a child, he gave me a book which was hard to read beyond my Dr. Seuss reading, but it upgraded my reading and stimulated learning. Books were for use, not for keeping. He always gifted books. He worked hard to ensure The Evangelist was circulated to all Albany Diocese households.

Youth career development spearheads an important task: The bishop served as the first New York Archdiocese TV director. He wrote a book — “Your Place in TV” — for young people to pursue careers in TV. He always was interested in helping youth explore career paths and champion career choices. His book was one of the first highlighting TV careers. He utilized TV by innovating this media for fundraising.
Cast your net widely: His vast array of friends ranged across a wide spectrum. A warm greeting and personal interest created friends. His network ranged from Pope Paul VI to auto tycoons to the elevator operator. He even became friends with the shuttle bus driver from LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan.

His green handbook listing New York City officials was well thumbed. He always advised me to build and use my network. He covered all walks of life. His father was a fireman. The bishop came to the rescue when there were firemen labor problems in Albany. He showed our networks are made by giving rather than getting.

Education is a sacrament: Education commands a key to life. Bishop Broderick earned a Ph.D. in English and English literature. He knew colleges well. The bishop understood the beneficial impact of education in people’s lives. He exemplified this passion by serving on college boards.
I remember his keen interest in cheering a relative for their campus tours. Even later in life, the bishop dedicated a summer to study a new Scriptures course in Rome. His laser focus on education dominated interactions with youth.

Helping people guided a priest’s mandate: I asked him about the role of a priest. He understood priestly vocations from his Saint Joseph’s Seminary rector days. He looked at me and exclaimed that a priest’s job is “to help people.” This simplicity circulates to us to practice care for others, cura personalis.

Bishop Edwin Broderick gave us lessons for life as bishop and uncle. These messages enhance our wisdom, spirituality, faith and hope.

Douglas Broderick is the nephew of the late Bishop Edwin Broderick, worked for the United Nations and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and he writes about leadership. The bishop served as the eighth Bishop of Albany from 1969-76.