COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–For the second time in two years, the Catholic Diocese of Columbus will be without a bishop.
Bishop Robert Brennan is being transferred to New York. He will go from overseeing 300,000 parishioners in 23 counties to 1,500,000 in Brooklyn and Queens.
Brennan said he was in the midst of big projects and plans for the Columbus Diocese when the Pope’s ambassador, Chancellor Dinnunzio from the Pontifical College Josephinum called him. An old Yiddish phrase applies here, “Man plans, God laughs.”
“I was heading down to start a long-term planning meeting and I got a sudden call that changed everything,” Bishop Brennan said. “There is a sadness for me in going from Columbus. I was ready to settle my life here. I love the city and I love the surrounding areas.
The people of the diocese love the bishop. In his first year, visited nearly every parish, got to know every priest, and launched a program called “Real Presence, Real Future.” It’s designed to rejuvenate faith and find new ways to connect.
“Pope Francis said it’s one of thing to stand at the doors of the church, welcome everybody, but we’ve got to go out and we’ve got to go out to where people are living. Right now a lot of people are living on their screens.”
Digital connections became invaluable when he guided the church through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Asking for real sacrifices, he found people responding with real faith.
“I had one fellow tell me, ‘You know what we had to learn in the last year was not only to go to church but to be the church.”
A mission he wanted to continue to lead and finding out last week his name was one of three submitted to the pope to be the next bishop of Brooklyn.
“The head of the congregation for bishops goes to see the Pope. Usually, it’s on a Saturday morning and the Pope chooses from that.”
How is the Pope all up in the bishop’s business here in Columbus? Brennan responded with, “You’d be surprised. You’d be surprised.”
Bishop Brennan will be here until the end of November. His parents and siblings live on Long Island, so he will be close to home, but he is leaving behind a piece of his heart.
His parting message to the people of the diocese was this:
“You have welcomed me so very very warmly and embraced me and I told the priests the other day, these are the happiest two years of my life as a priest. I will never be able to say that enough. These have been the happiest two years and that’s after 30 happy years. So that’s saying a lot and that’s because of your goodness.”
There is a group of priests known as the College of Consultors who will elect a temporary administrator to oversee the Columbus Diocese. Chancellor Dinunzio will consult with surrounding bishops, as well as, Bishop Brennan. Recommendations will be made and eventually, a new bishop will be named by the Pope.