Brennan Connelly, OFM
1931 – 2012
Fr. Brennan Connelly, OFM, was born April 20, 1931 in Boston and baptized Joseph Patrick. He attended James A. Garfield Grammar School in Brighton, Mass., and Boston Latin High School, graduating in 1948. He then attended Boston College for a year while considering several options, including a contract with the Boston Red Sox AAA League. He turned down the offer in favor of another call — to study for the Franciscan priesthood. The Red Sox made it clear that, should he decide to leave the seminary, he would always be welcomed back into their organization.
He attended St. Joseph’s Seraphic Seminary in Callicoon, N.Y., in 1949, and was received into the Order in 1950 at St. Bonaventure Friary, Paterson, N.J., taking the name Brennan Anthony. He professed first vows one year later, made his solemn profession in 1954, and was ordained in 1956. Upon completing theological studies, Fr. Brennan spent a pastoral internship year at St. Anthony Shrine, Boston.
In 1958, he joined the faculty of the Callicoon seminary, where he spent the next 12 years. Fr. Brennan taught various subjects: history, Latin, religion, as well as his forte, English — he earned his master’s degree in that subject from St. Bonaventure University, Allegany, N.Y. In addition, he coached the baseball and hockey teams. Fr. Brennan also served in the office of discipline, first as assistant, then taking over as prefect in 1964.
Six years later, Fr. Brennan was assigned to St. Leo Parish in Elmwood Park, N.J., first as parochial vicar, and then from 1973 to 1979 as pastor. During those years, he also began voicing his Franciscan idealism through his strong convictions on matters of social justice and peace, a characteristic that would mark his remaining ministry. In 1979, Fr. Brennan was elected to the Provincial Council, serving for six years. He was also asked to become director of pre-novitiate formation and guardian at Holy Cross Friary, the Bronx, N.Y. From 1983 to 1984, he continued his formation ministry at Juniper Friary in Philadelphia.
In 1984, Fr. Brennan became director of the Province’s reconstituted Ministry of the Word, mainly preaching parish missions. He served as pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish, East Rutherford, N.J., from 1987 to 1992 before returning to the Ministry of the Word. He assisted frequently at parishes in New Jersey, where his warm, heartfelt concern for people, as well as his great sense of humor, made him beloved.
He returned to Holy Cross Parish as senior associate friar in 2002. When the friary closed in 2008, he transferred to St. Anthony Shrine as senior associate, before transferring to Holy Name Friary, Ringwood, N.J., in 2011.
He died on Nov. 30, 2012 at Holy Name Friary. Fr. Brennan was 81 years old, a professed Franciscan friar for 61 years and a priest for 56 years.