Bishop William Brennan dies after long illness

03/09/2013

Bishop William Brennan Emeritus Bishop of Wagga Wagga
Bishop William Brennan, Emeritus Bishop of Wagga Wagga.

The fourth Bishop of Wagga Wagga, William Brennan, died at 3pm on 31 August after a long illness.

William John Brennan was born on 16 February 1938 at Arncliffe NSW.

Son of John Joseph Brennan and Elvie Margaret (nee Barton) from Forbes. William was the second eldest of six children, the others being Therese, John, Joan, Terence and Colleen.

He was educated by the Ursuline Nuns at Ashbury and the Christian Brothers at Lewisham (Sydney).

William Brennan trained for the priesthood at Saint Columba’s College, Springwood; and Saint Patrick’s College, Manly; and The Pontifical Urbaniana University, Rome. He did further studies at Sydney University and the University of New England. He held a Bachelor of Arts (Syd), DipEd(UNE), MLitt [Philosophy and Psychology] (UNE), STL[1] (Urbaniana).

After his ordination to the priesthood on 21 December 1960, he was appointed Assistant Priest at Forbes and then Broken Hill, then Director of Schools for the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese.

Following this he was Parish Priest of Nyngan and then Wentworth, combining that role with that of the Vicar of Education in the Wilcannia-Forbes Diocese.

William Brennan was appointed Bishop of Wagga Wagga on 16 January 1984 and his Episcopal Ordination took place on 1 March 1984.

In addition to his episcopal duties in the Wagga Wagga Diocese, Bishop William Brennan held various positions on the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, including Chairman of the Bishops’ Committee for Industrial Affairs, the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, Deputy Chairman of Caritas. He was also part of the NSW Catholic Education Commission.

Bishop William Brennan is perhaps best known for the bold move of founding a diocesan seminary –  Saint John Vianney College, at North Wagga Wagga, adjacent to Charles Sturt University. Bishop Brennan was committed to the idea that priests who spend their life working in country dioceses should be trained in the country. To this end, he built Vianney College, which was officially opened in 1992. Since its opening, the seminary accommodation has been expanded twice.  It has been operating at capacity, or close to capacity, for the last several years.

Bishop Brennan also founded Saint Francis’ College on the Wagga Wagga campus of Charles Sturt University. Opened in 1998, St Francis offers Catholic collegial accommodation for students of the university.

Serious ill health brought about Bishop William Brennan’s formal retirement on 5 February 2002. Bishop Brennan finally succumbed to the effects of his illness (brain aneurysm) at 3pm on 31 August 2013.

The Emeritus Bishop of Wagga Wagga’s mortal remains will be interred in the crypt beneath St Michael’s Cathedral, Wagga Wagga following Mass of Christian Burial for the repose of his soul. The Reception of the Body and Vigil will be held at St Michael’s Cathedral, Wagga Wagga at 7pm on Thursday 5 September. The Mass of Christian Burial will be held at St Michael’s Cathedral on Friday 6 September at 11.30am.

[1] Licentiate in Sacred Theology

Related:

Tributes: Cardinal Pell and Most Rev Anthony Fisher OP on William Brennan

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