A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Brother Francis Brennan sm

Bro Frank 1‘Big, huge-hearted, open, friendly, lovable Frank’, said Brother Hugh Peacock sm in his tribute to Brother Frank at his funeral.

Brother Frank was born in Dunedin in 1929, was educated in Waimate, and came to the Society of Mary as a postulant in August 1948. He was professed as Brother Ignatius on 25 March 1950.

Frank’s appointments included Highden (1948 - 54), Futuna (1955 - 61), Rochester Hall, Christchurch (1961 - 72), Mission Vineyards, Greenmeadows (1973 - 89), Society of Mary General House, Rome (1990 - 97).

In 1998 Frank moved to Christchurch and was stationed first at St Bede’s College and Harewood residence (1998 - 2004), then at St Mary’s Parish, (2005 - 11) and at Sacred Heart Parish, Addington (2011 - 13).

Frank died in Christchurch on 24 July 2013 and was buried there in Waimairi Cemetery.

Brother Hugh went on to say, ‘What a wonderful treasure our Faith is and how sustaining and precious it becomes in times of suffering. This, together with a sense of belonging, brings fulfilment or a sense of meaning for what we are and do, and comes from knowing that we belong both to God and to one another. Every sheet off a visitor’s bed that Frank would wash, every room made up ready for the next occupant, all done with love and with no thought of reward except to do it as well as it could be done and Mary would do it. This was Frank’s life and work, to follow as closely as he could in the footsteps of his Mother’.

In his homily, Fr Tim Duckworth sm noted that ‘Frank Brennan is best remembered internationally in the Society of Mary as the man who could converse fluently with everyone in Italy. Frank waved his hands in the same Italian style, spoke in the same loud and animated manner and added an “O” onto the end of English words to transform them into Italian. Whatever the secret, Frank managed very well. His confreres were astonished at Christmas time -- some had been in Rome for 30 years -- how come Frank who’d only been there for six months was receiving presents delivered daily to the front door?

‘Frank could make you laugh. He was very direct at times, but always kind. He was a man of whom you could use the word ‘simple’ in its most complimentary sense. Frank was extraordinarily straightforward. He was ... a man of Faith, a man of Hope, and a man of Love’.

Brother Hugh again: ‘Like all diamonds, of course, Frank was not perfect and sometimes his voice could be heard, raised a little and with a more pronounced Irish twang, as he expressed his views on one topic or another. But we are all human and all have our difficulties and failures. He was, in truth, an immortal diamond cut and shaped through years of honest, unknown and mostly hidden work, refined and polished in these last few months of suffering and pain, faithful in his prayer life, in his work and in his dedication to his vows.Bro Frank 2

‘Someone asked St Augustine once what Love looked like and he replied: “Love has hands to help others, it has feet to hasten to the poor and needy, it has eyes to see misery and want, it has ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of others -- that’s what love looks like”.

‘I might add love is like the life of Brother Frank, a life lived for others in love and commitment to God and His blessed Mother’. 

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