“Joyful Credible Witnesses of Jesus Christ” | Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan

Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan: That’s why I guess joy is so important to me as a charism of living the Faith because if it’s authentic, if you really enjoy what you’re doing, if that love of God is touching your life, then it is going to show and I could see it, I could see and it was real and I said, “I could do that and I’d like to do that.”

Mother Assumpta, O.P.: We’re so honored today to have Bishop Robert Brennan with us. Tell me, what does it feel to be transferred from New York to Columbus, Ohio? 

Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan: Well, Mother it really was quite a change for me because I had spent all of my life on Long Island; everything I did, when I went to college, everything was right there on the island. I was born in the Bronx but by and large, grew up on Long Island. so I was 57 years old and moving to a new state and a new church, but it was thoroughly exciting.  And Columbus is so varied with city life, rural life, so many, many new things for me.

Mother Assumpta, O.P.: I think I would have been in tears. You know, what the whole life in New York and then you know go … But anyway, tell me I always like to know, how did you receive the message to become the bishop?

Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan: Well, you know, it’s funny. I was on my way to a parish on Long Island. It was in January, the middle of January, and in fact the next day I was leaving to go to Panama for World Youth Day. I think they had told the nuncio that so he called me on my way to this parish. I was on the Long Island Expressway and he calls and he says, “Bishop, are you alone?” 

You say, “Uh-oh!”  and I said,  “I am” and then he said,

“Well are you driving?”  I said,

“Yes.” 

“Do you need to pull over?” and I said,

“Oh, we’re long past that, your Excellency.”   I mean, I don’t think he was calling to just say hello, but he said,

“The Holy Father wants you to go to Columbus. He says it’s a very important diocese and it has the Josephinum there” and I have to confess I had heard vaguely about the Josephinum about but I didn’t know anything about it – it was an exciting time.

Columbus is just a wonderful place to be and it’s a great place to live. But the Faith is so alive; there are just so many facets of Catholic life in the Diocese of Columbus.

Mother Assumpta, O.P.: Well, you’ve been so good to our Sisters and, Sister sent me the tape she made of you greeting all the families coming into the school –

Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan: Well, it was a good thing to do. It was really wonderful and St. Michael’s was really prepared. All the families had to put little signs or posters saying welcome. Mmm, and it really was a lot of fun –

Mother Assumpta, O.P.: Bishop, what are your goals? I mean, what do you see as, what would you like to do in a diocese or, I would imagine any Bishop?

Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan: I would say any Bishop would be excited about evangelization!  Excited about just announcing the Gospel and living it with a great deal of joy and excitement! Now for me, particularly being in Columbus where there were so many things already started, it’s to let those continue and really encourage that so whether it be the presence of the Sisters in our schools and building up a beautiful culture, and you’re familiar with the Damascus Retreats, and so the kids, the middle school children and the teenagers in high school, have a very good experience but the camp counselors they call themselves missionaries and they really are –

Mother Assumpta, O.P.: I’m sure that there are people all over the United States who would love to send their children to that camp.

Most Reverend Robert J. Brennan: Well, it’s a high adventure kind of a camp; there’s a lake, there’s some kind of a contraption where they jump off of one thing and bounce off and then into the lake, the high ropes, the climbing, they have all kinds of fun, but they grow in their friendship with Jesus Christ.  And that is the primary focus of the experience that at the end of the week, children will have grown and they do, you hear their testimonies: they love the Eucharist,  they love adoration, they love coming to Holy Mass, but they’ve also become more articulate in expressing their friendship with Jesus Christ and that I find so inspiring. 

The other thing is we have so many good, again missionaries working on our College campuses; we have Ohio State and we the Paulist Fathers are there, but so are the FOCUS Missionaries; they’ve just begun there; St. Paul Outreach; there’s another group called Young Catholic Professionals. These are young people in their twenties and thirties. They’re working in the world, secular jobs, and they meet regularly for social and for prayer; they to again that joy in living the Faith. So the Pallotine Fathers have come in and the parish that they’re in is just exploding with devotional life with the young adults. You just meet wonderful people who love the Lord and want to live the Faith.

Mother Assumpta, O.P.: You know, if I were a bishop (which I’ll never be a bishop) I think the very first thing I would do would get in a cloistered community, you know to pray, pray for the diocese, pray for the needs of the people; but Bishop, I just wanted to take this time just to thank you. Of course, I’m very grateful for how good you are to the Sisters, but what you’re trying to do! Sister John Paul keeps me informed; she’s your fan club.

And so God bless you and we do pray for Bishops. I pray for Bishops daily. I’ll be down to see you.


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