Roanoke Times
                 Copyright (c) 1995, Landmark Communications, Inc.

DATE: FRIDAY, March 13, 1992                   TAG: 9203130325
DATELINE: LAKE RIDGE                                LENGTH: Medium


The Rev. James C. Bruse, who now claims to bear wounds like those Christ suffered on the cross and to make statues weep, was something of a divinity on the roller-coaster-riding circuit of the mid-1970s.

Bruse, 37, once held three world records for marathon roller-coaster riding.

The Guinness Book of World Records credited him with the 1976 record for riding the Swamp Fox in Myrtle Beach, S.C., for 72 hours.

In 1977, Bruse and three partners eclipsed that mark with 101 hours on the Rebel Yell at Kings Dominion. That marathon was held to promote the movie "Rollercoaster," filmed in part at Norfolk's old Ocean View amusement park.

Another man broke the record, so in 1978 Kings Dominion had Bruse and his rival duel it out on the Rebel Yell in a "heavyweight championship" match. After 124 hours - just over five days - the park forced the marathoners to stop. They had dipped and soared more than 1,805 miles.

That mark stood until 1986.

Officials at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Lake Ridge declined comment on their associate minister's youthful glory, and the Catholic Diocese of Arlington demurred as well.

But a friend at the church said Bruse's accomplishments were well-known. "The youth minister brought it up to the kids. The kids thought it was tremendously great," said W. Thomas Saunders.

Bruse, who graduated from Mary Washington College in 1977 and entered divinity school in 1979, apparently learned the joy of roller coasters from a boyhood friend.

"I guess I sort of lured him into it," said Roy Brashears, who grew up around the corner from Bruse in Forestville, Md. One summer after high school, Brashears said, he talked Bruse into traveling to Florida by way of amusement parks.

On a lark, they joined a coaster marathon at one park, and Bruse had a natural ability to ride almost indefinitely, Brashears said.

"His concentration is just incredible," he said.

Bruse was quiet, serious-minded, and a good student, Brashears said, and never sought the publicity that went along with the world records.

Though Brashears said he was surprised to learn of Bruse's recent fame, he insisted the roller-coaster escapades should not cheapen the priest's reputation.

"One thing I can say in his behalf without a shadow of a doubt is that he is very honest,'` Brashears said, "and I don't see him as being the type of person that would try to flimflam the public."

 by CNB