| By Mary D. Dillard

Father Matthew Brennan

I’m 61 years a priest, and I suppose, in a way, from the time I was fairly young I always had in my mind that I might become a priest,” says Father Matthew Brennan, retired priest of the Diocese of Birmingham.

Father Brennan grew up in Ireland’s County Wicklow and attended seminary in the neighboring County Wexford. Throughout his formation, he had every intention of staying in Ireland and serving as a priest for the Diocese of Ferns; however, the Lord had a different plan. “The whole thing was such a crazy situation,” shares Father Brennan. While his good friend and fellow seminarian Father Raymond Murrin had gone to Alabama the year prior, he admits, “I hadn’t a clue about Alabama,” but he took the leap of faith and signed the form incardinating him into the Diocese of Mobile-Birmingham. “To be honest,” says Father Brennan looking back at the circumstances surrounding his coming to America, “this is where I should have been. It really was!”

After arriving in the States, Father Brennan would go to serve St. Francis Xavier and Our Lady of Lourdes, both in Birmingham, before being asked to serve as the diocesan director of youth. After his successful stint leading the youth, he went on to serve Our Lady of the Lake in Pell City, Our Lady of Sorrows in Homewood, and Blessed Sacrament in Birmingham.

Upon his arrival at an aging Blessed Sacrament, a “very disheartened” congregation assumed he was sent to close the parish, but for 15 years, Father Brennan shepherded his flock, bringing many old traditions back to life, including spaghetti dinners, Thanksgiving dinners, St. Joseph’s Altar, and the annual Corpus Christi procession. Father Brennan concedes, though, “Don’t let any pastor tell you he did this or that because it’s the people, and they were wonderful!”

When asked about his priesthood, Father Brennan is quick to share that the most joy comes from the Mass and preaching. “Bringing the Eucharist to the people and bringing the Word of God: that to me is the essence of the priesthood.”

For the faithful, he has this advice: “People say they don’t know what to say in prayer, but you don’t have to say anything because you are with Him. Just like two lovers happy to be together because their presence is enough, the same with the Lord … just go be with Him.”