Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 7, 2001
Priest died so others might live
By MSGR. JIM LISANTE
Hosting a weekly television program gives you the opportunity to meet some fascinating people. Sometimes, based on biographical research, you get high expectations. You come to believe that a guest will be something amazing.
Too often, you find their pre-publicity doesn't match the reality. In the case of one recent guest, just the opposite happened. My expectations were far exceeded by the person before me.
Her name is Barbara Taylor Bradford and she's a monumentally successful author. With 17 novels in print, she has sold more than 62 million books. They're printed in 39 languages in 89 countries.
Her first novel was called A Woman of Substance. Published in 1979, it remained on The New York Times bestseller list for over 15 months. Her latest, The Triumph of Katie Byrne, will no doubt continue this winning streak. The London Daily Mail indicates that for three years running, the author ranked in first place on the list of highest-earning British women.
Barbara writes with a unique and insightful style, celebrating the growth and evolution of women faced with seemingly overwhelming odds. Her heroines grow before our eyes, becoming persons of impressive conviction and substance.
Personally, the author lives a life filled with some glamour, but with far more stability and normalcy than you'd imagine. Great popular and financial success has not turned her head or led her down foolish paths. This woman knows who she is and what truly matters. So love, fidelity and common sense are her true touchstones.
On a blind date in 1961, she met Robert Bradford. She claims it was love at first sight and they married in 1963. The writer and her producer husband seem genuinely to have found a constant in this chaotic world. And it almost didn't happen at all.
Robert Bradford lived as a child in Nazi-occupied territory. His life was at risk. That is, until a Catholic priest helped Robert cross into a safe neighbouring country. At the border, now securely on the other side, young Robert turned to wave goodbye to his companion.
His eyes beheld a horrible sight. The Gestapo had been trailing this refugee band and arrived too late to stop Robert, but just in time to apprehend and shoot the Catholic priest.
His sacrifice made all the difference to one young life - and perhaps many more. Today, Robert Bradford, a successful film producer, is an avid supporter of children's charities, including the Police Athletic League. It seems he learned early, and from a memorable teacher, the responsibility an adult has to a youngster in need of a friend.
Much is written about all the people in the Second World War who could have done more, or should have done more, to save human life. But some folks did care. Some folks did get involved. Some folks took the enormous risk. And some died in the trying.
Barbara Taylor Bradford is a great writer and a wonderful person to interview. Unpretentious and joyful, she lights up a room. You sense, as she talks, that the pilot light behind this positive and talented person is her beloved husband.
Neither Barbara nor Robert is Catholic. But that doesn't matter. Caring and loving, getting involved and taking a stand are part of the universal call to holiness.
I'm glad Barbara Taylor met and fell in love with Robert Bradford. And I'm delighted that an unknown priest made a decision to make a difference for the good.
(For a free copy of The Christopher News Note, A Matter of Conscience, write to The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY 10017)
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