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September 5, 2023

Rest in Peace to ‘singing priest’, Fr Patrick Walter Brennan

Fr Patrick Walter Brennan OP died peacefully on September 1 at Tallaght Hospital. He was 87 years.

A Requiem Mass was scheduled for 11.30 a.m. [6.30 a.m. local time] today Tuesday, September 5. Burial afterwards in the Dominican Community Cemetery.

A notice in the Irish Times on Sunday stated: “Predeceased by his parents Patrick and Agnes, brothers John, Thomas and Maurice, and sisters Marie and Margaret. Deeply regretted by his nephews and nieces, his sisters-in-law and extended family, his friends, his carers in the Priory and his Dominican brethren.”

Fr Brennen’s body was in repose at the Dominican Priory from Monday at noon and removed to St Mary’s Dominican Church, Tallaght in the afternoon.

Representing the Dominican friars in Trinidad and Tobago was Fr Thomas Lawson OP who was accompanied by Fr Ronan Cusack OP.

Fr Brennan’s first assignment in Trinidad was as a teacher at Holy Cross College in 1965 for Ordinary and Advanced Level English. His love of singing and powerful voice led him to participate in Music Festivals, and he was known as the ‘singing priest’. He also performed at various events.

His first parish was San Rafael, then Pointe-a-Pierre, South Oropouche, Mon Repos, Bourg Mulatresse and La Romaine. After his parish duties ended, he returned to the Holy Cross Priory. Fr Brennan in retirement assisted at St Finbar’s, Diego Martin and Church of the Nativity, Crystal Stream.

A Facebook post from Mary Immaculate Queen of the Universe, Bourg Mulatresse on September 2 paid tribute to him. “With heavy hearts, we come together to remember and mourn the passing of our beloved former parish priest, Fr. Patrick Brennan OP. He served as a spiritual guide and pillar of our community at MIQU RC Church for a remarkable eleven years, from 1992 to 2003. His departure leaves a void that will be felt deeply by all who had the privilege of knowing him.”

Archbishop Emeritus Robert Rivas OP said, “the people remember his voice and his generosity in serving. He was also compassionate with the sick and empathetic with those in grief and who had lost loved ones. He used his talents to bring joy to others.”

He said Fr Brennan was a caring brother Dominican and, on several occasions, heeded his call to sing at a Jubilee or special church celebrations in the dioceses he was bishop. “He was generous in making himself available and giving his time. He was a generous missionary.”

Fr Brennan had a “magnificent” voice and shared it with others. Archbishop Emeritus Rivas said Fr Brennan could now sing his songs of praise to God for all eternity. “I am sure his joy is complete, and he is smiling and saying to God, ‘I made it’. And God is saying ‘well done, good and faithful servant; Welcome Home”, the retired archbishop said.

In an interview with the Trinidad Guardian April 7, 2012, Fr Brennan was asked who were the people who were most influential to him. He said it was the parishioners especially the less fortunate who taught him what it means to be a priest. “Their trust in God for their daily bread, the sacrifices they made for others, their generosity, goodness, humour, lit a light in my life.”

Describing the life of a priest, he said it can be lonely but had its share of compensation and rewards. He mentioned the joy celebrating the Eucharist, preaching the Good News of the gospel, and ministering through giving the Sacrament of Reconciliation and spending time with the sick.

Commenting on being known as the ‘Singing Priest’, he replied that Trinidad must be credited for whatever he achieved in music, and he would always be grateful for the opportunity to develop his talent.