A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Fr Philip Brennan sm

P BrennanWhat follows is a homily given by Fr Don Hamilton sm at Phil’s funeral at St Thomas More Church, Wycliffe St. Napier on 7 November 2014

Philip Brennan was an extraordinary man. He was about to celebrate his 98th birthday on the 12th December. He was also about to celebrate the 66th Anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood.

It is true isn’t it that length of years in themselves are not spectacular. It is what we do with our time that makes the greatest impact.

We have to accept the basic truth that life is precious and it should be lived by these words of scripture, ‘Remember thy Creator in the days of your Youth’. We who know Phil can vouch that that truth remained with him into old age.

Philip, as were many of the young of those days, was educated in the Catholic school system. His primary days were in Wanganui. His secondary were at St Pat’s Silverstream.

After a few years he joined the Society of Mary. In 1944 he came to Greenmeadows. He was ordained in 1948 by Cardinal McKeefry.

He began his priestly work at Hato Paora College. He told me how he always wanted to work with the Maori people. After four years he began work with the young and the adults of  Taranaki. He worked with these for 22 years based in Normanby and Waitara. There is much you and I can learn from Phil and his life. Sometimes we can tell ourselves that the faith which Providence has blessed us with is for ourselves.

Phil rejoiced in his faith but he knew that his primary task was to share it with others. This definition of the Church was the one Phil took as the way the Church should remain as part of his life.

You should know how to behave in the House of God which is the Church of the living God the pillars and foundation of truth.

Those who knew Phil would say that Phil always led by example. When Phil left Taranaki he spent time in Wellington, Christchurch and Wanganui. He took with him his deep faith, his willingness to go where ever he was called.

I have often thought these words described his life:

Friends may depart from me

Night may come down,

Clouds of adversity

Darken and frown;

Still through my tears I’ll see

Hope gently leading me

Nearer my God to thee

Nearer to thee.

All that was possible because of the love and strength of the people who walked with him.

There is a lesson here for you and me. Friends are essential to our growth. Phil’s dedication to the people he served show us the way that enable us to grow the same way as this priest grew.

In 1980, Phil came to Hawke’s Bay and he has worked in this area for over thirty years. Wairoa, Napier, Hastings, Dannevirke have all been witnesses to his zeal and his love for the people he has so faithfully served.

The people of Hawke’s Bay have always respected Phil. They accepted his no nonsense approach. If you were asked  to do anything you did it readily and without complaint.

There is a hymn they sing on Maraes. One of the verses goes:

Tomorrow there may be heartbreak and sorrow

And a thousand tear drops may fall

But until I face tomorrow’s tasks

I’ve got no special favours to ask

I’ve just come to say – Thank you Lord.

That is why we are here isn’t it. We want to say thank you Lord for allowing us to share in Phil’s many years of priesthood. There is so much we have to thank God for.

Deacon Karatea-Goddard spoke these words, ‘In my Father’s House there are many rooms, I am going to prepare a place for you’.

And so Phil we come to say goodbye. I will use the prayer you often used when you came to say good bye to your friends.

Go forth now from  this world

In the name of God Almighty who created you:

In the name of his Son Jesus Christ who died for you;

In the name of the Holy Spirit who filled you with Grace.

Go forth to God the Father in Heaven and he will give you eternal rest.

Go forth to your ancestors, gathered in the world of everlasting life.

May the angels greet you and lead you into the glorious presence of God who will set you in a place before Him.

Lord Jesus, Son of the living God, Deliver your servant to everlasting life

Tagged as:

Comments are closed.