By Jessica Easthope
The Diocese of Rockville Centre is rejoicing – one of their own is back in New York.
For more than 50 years, Bishop Robert Brennan called the diocese home, now those who know him best are calling him the right man to be bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
“Bishop Brennan is embracing and saying yeah this is where the Holy Spirit wants me to be,” said Msgr. Jim Vlaun, the president and CEO of the Catholic Faith Network.
Msgr. Vlaun and Bishop Brennan knew each other long before they discerned their calls to the priesthood. They knew each other in high school at St. John the Baptist in West Islip. Msgr. Vlaun says though he’ll miss Columbus, he knows Bishop Brennan will serve Brooklyn with his whole heart.
“I think that’s what Bishop Brennan experienced, how could I leave these people but in that charism I think there’s that missionary spirit that says yes Lord, I will do what you ask,” Msgr. Vlaun said.
Bishop Bill Murphy met Bishop Brennan years later at St. Agnes Cathedral, when he was installed as the Bishop of Rockville Centre, Bishop Brennan – his auxiliary bishop and secretary, then vicar general and moderator of the curia, the two were side-by-side for 16 years.
“He just brought a fresh look to everything and he was a very wise counsellor for me,” Bishop Murphy said.
But Bishop Murphy says the man he affectionately calls Bob showed his true colors when important titles didn’t stop him from following his ministry – he asked to be assigned to a parish as a pastor.
“That’s the kind of man I’d want to have in a leading position, he’s a priest to his core,” he said.
As for the people who looked to him as a spiritual leader, they’re telling parishioners in Brooklyn – you’re the lucky ones now.
“He was just a terrific young priest and he helped me through some bad times that I had,” said Kathleen Murray.
“He always had time for everybody no matter what he was doing, he’s a bishop for all people and they’re just so very lucky to have him,” Teresa Manning said.
Church officials in Rockville Centre say Bishop Brennan’s biggest challenge will be the same one all priests face – to evangelize, but he’s the person to take it on.