COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The news that Bishop Robert Brennan would be leaving Columbus surprised many – including Brennan himself.
At a press conference in Brooklyn Wednesday morning, Brennan described the moment last week when he got the call from The Vatican.
“I was overwhelmed by it,” he said. “It’s not something I expected. I wasn’t thrilled at first. I’ve only been in Columbus two and a half years and we both know that we started a bunch of things. You know how you just start to build the momentum and COVID was a lost year.”
Those who know him best say Brennan started building that momentum shortly after arriving in Columbus is March 2019.
“He went out on a farm – one of our local farmers, he wanted to see the farming operation and rode a combine,” said Mike Haller, chair of the Catholic Foundation. “In his first year, he visited every parish, every school, and almost every ministry in our diocese wanting to gather information about our area and engage the parishioners and he did a super job.”
Haller said the only reason Brennan didn’t visit every ministry was because of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic which defined the majority of Brennan’s time in Columbus.
“Having a hard time navigating the very turbulent waters of everything going on around us…he was a very constant and calming and joyful presence for us throughout all of that,” said Father Mike Hartge, Diocese of Columbus.
Despite being a native New Yorker, Brennan has made it clear he is sad to be leaving Columbus.
“One of the greatest sources of strength and joy for me in Columbus was the collaboration with our priest,” Brennan said in a video message to the Diocese of Brooklyn. “In fact, I love them as my brothers and I’m sad to be leaving them. Please bear with that sadness and see in it a sign of my great confidence and my eagerness to know and love you, to stand shoulder to shoulder with you in the work of the gospel.”
Those Brennan served with in Columbus are confident he’ll be successful.
“He’s the man for the job,” Hartge said. “We just thought so highly of him, still think so highly of him. We were blessed to have him here for the short time that we did. We were hoping to have him here for a lot longer. But just with his energy, with his zeal, with his pastoral heart, he’s a great bishop wherever he goes.”
“Because of his success, both as a priest and as a bishop, because of his wisdom, his vision and engagement with the folks he serves, I think the church recognized that and are adding his list of responsibilities,” Haller said. “His one-on-one engagement and genuine concern for what each parishioner feels and needs. He’s a great visionary. He’s an excellent speaker. He’s just as common as an old shoe and I don’t mean that in a disrespectful way. He’s easy to talk to, very engaging and I’ll miss him.”