Hello Everyone, it is a true honor and pleasure to be here with you today. Our family thank you for your invitation and my sister Roisin, and I are delighted to be here in person. On behalf of all our relations: the Walshs, O’Briens, Holihans, and Harringtons, from Australia, South Africa, Scotland, Ireland and the U.S., we thank you for keeping Uncle Bryan’s memory alive and in your hearts. We are all very proud of his achievements and very appreciative for all the honors and awards the people of Operation Pedro Pan have bestowed on him.
We all know how much Monsignor Bryan loved to fly his plane, even from a very young age. In many ways flying is a good metaphor for the “higher purpose” by which he lived his life. He always operated at an altitude far greater than is reasonable to expect from a good and caring person. Many of us can only hope to leave this world a little better than we found it but how rare it is to experience a life that has had such profound impact on so many as Uncle Bryan’s life has had.
Msgr. Bryan was very much a man of Giving, who centered his life around Family. Whether it was his religious family, his Pedro Pan family, his community family, or his blood relations, he always found ways to connect, give, and have a lasting impact on so many of us. As was his way with so many of my relatives, uncle Bryan made the time and traveled to marry my wife and I and christened both of our children, Samantha and DJ.
He traveled to New York for his final surgery and once again reached out and took the time to visit and stay with us. We never thought that this would be the last time we would see him-he even called me on the phone just a short time before going into surgery.
Growing up we had heard of some of the good things he had done but it was really at his funeral when I experienced the outpouring of love from the Miami and Pedro Pan community that I realized, more fully, the kind of impact he had on so many. This is because he was a very humble person. I don’t recall him ever talking about the things he had done to help others. Now, don’t get me wrong, he was also a very confident person who had strong opinions! As children we would be on our best behavior around him given his booming, deep, and very much mixed American and Irish accent!
My mother used to tell us about the many Masses the attended growing up and how he would sing hymns at the top of his lungs- he had many talents, but singing was not one of them! The beautiful thing about this story was that he knew he didn’t have a pleasant voice to the ear but believed hymns were prayers and that you should give your all when praising or talking to God.
Uncle Bryan, Monsignor Bryan, was a great role model for all of us and left us many examples of how we can all give more of ourselves and our time to others.
Thank you for listening, Roisin and I are very much looking forward to spending the weekend with you, hearing about your amazing 50 year journey, and getting to know many of you. Thank you.