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March 13, 2020

Memories of Fr Dermot

Fr Dermot Brennan OP

Diego Martin/Petit Valley parishioner Greer Lum Lock (nee Kelly) remembers Fr Dermot Brennan OP

I first met Fr Dermot Brennan, OP when I was working as a nurse at Port of Spain General Hospital in 1972. Fr Dermot was the hospital chaplain. He endeared himself to both patients and staff with his genuine, warm, caring and humble disposition. He was always ready for a good laugh. He was a family man—I’m sure the favourite uncle of his nieces and nephews.

Fr Brennan was attached to the Rosary parish and remained lifelong friends with some members of the choir. He was so loved and appreciated by the nurses and staff that a few persons named their children ‘Dermot’. He performed many of their marriages and was invited back to do the marriages of some of their children.

He became a dear friend to many families, ours included.

A fond memory is when he and a few members of my family visited when I was assigned to Tobago. While the ladies were busy preparing the meal, Father was in the living room supervising my four-year-old niece.  He called out: “Greer, come and see what Nikki did!” I went. There was a trail of my talcum powder from the front to the back door. I said “Father, why didn’t you stop her?” He said, “there is a new concept in psychology ….Freedom of expression.” We all laughed.

That same niece received great counsel from Father at 40 years on his last visit to Trinidad & Tobago. Nikki considers him a treasure.

In 2018, a ‘batch’ of nurses invited Fr Dermot to celebrate their 50th anniversary of nursing. On that visit David and I were privileged to have Father to tea. That day was his 51st anniversary of ordination.

He said that they (my priest friends) often wondered what will become of me. He was happy to have met David my husband of four years. They hit it off instantly. David entertained Father with music of the 60s/70s. He loved it so much. David made him a copy of the CD. He enjoyed playing it on his return to Ireland.

My great-nephews Isaac and Jacob were captivated by Father’s stories of the power of God. Father shared that on one occasion he had no money to pay the teachers their salaries at Rosary Primary School. Just when he was leaving to collect a loan, an old man came and handed him a tattered envelope with the exact money that was needed!

At the beginning of Fr Dermot’s last visit, he was walking in a feeble manner.  When he left, he was like a brand-new man. Trinidad was indeed a tonic for him.

Every Christmas his many friends looked forward to his annual letters, filling us in on all his activities, and the goings on of his family members, whom he held very dear to his heart.

So, when I missed his 2019 annual letter, I realised that his health was failing. Father had his many challenges and temptations, but he relied on the grace of God.  He bore his health issues very well, never complaining.

Fr Dermot was kind to our beloved Fr Leo Donovan OP on his return to Ireland. They were ordained together and celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2017.

Fr Dermot died on February 24, Carnival Monday (he loved Carnival of old). He was buried on his birthday  February 27. His brother priests sang “Happy Birthday” at his graveside. It was very comforting to know that Fr Jesse Maingot OP was there representing the Trinis. Fr Adrian Farrelly OP, a ‘wanna-be’ Trini was also there.

So, as we bid farewell to this gentle giant of a priest, on behalf of the many lives that he had touched, we say thank you for all that you have done for us.

May God hold you in the palm of His hands. May Our Lady enfold you in her mantle.

Rest in peace.