Diocesan News

Bishop Brennan Returns to Huntington to Receive Immaculate Conception Medal

Bishop John Barres of Rockville Centre presents the Immaculate Conception Medal to Bishop Robert Brennan during vespers for the Te Deum Dinner at the Immaculate Conception Seminary, Sunday, Nov. 6 in Huntington. (Photo: Office of Communications, Diocese of Rockville Centre)

HUNTINGTON, N.Y. — Bishop Robert Brennan returned to the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, New York, on Nov. 6 to receive the institution’s accolade for a lifetime of priestly faithfulness and pastoral care.

Bishop Brennan accepted the Immaculate Conception Medal during a vespers service in the seminary’s chapel, followed by the annual Te Deum dinner.

Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, now retired, established the Immaculate Conception Medal in 2014 to honor senior priests. Bishop Brennan, ordained a priest in 1989, served as Bishop Murphy’s secretary before becoming an Auxiliary Bishop for Rockville Center in 2012 and Bishop of Columbus, Ohio, in 2019.

The Immaculate Conception Medal honors senior priests for their lives of dedicated and priestly service. (Photo: Bill Miller)

When Pope Francis announced that Bishop Brennan would become the eighth Bishop of Brooklyn, Msgr. Steven Camp, rector of the seminary, saw the opportunity to honor him with the medal.

“It became such a logical thing to do,” Msgr. Camp said after the dinner. “I thought it would be an appropriate way for us to welcome him back into the New York region. It was kind of a wish that came true in the sense that I was looking for a bishop to acknowledge, and Bishop Brennan is such a good man with a great reputation.”

Msgr. Camp, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Huntington, has known Bishop Brennan for 35 years. While he listed Bishop Brennan’s accomplishments — from parish pastor, to secretary for three bishops, and later vicar general and moderator of the curia for the diocese — Msgr. Camp said Bishop Brennan especially distinguished himself as a mentor for priests.

“Bishop Brennan has a real genuineness about him,” Msgr. Camp said. “He’s a priest’s priest. So he really understands the guys. He works with guys. He talks with guys and is present with them.

“He presents himself as being in the field with everybody working together.”

Msgr. Camp noted Bishop Brennan brought “a certain zeal and vibrancy” to Brooklyn when he was installed nearly a year ago, visiting 100 parishes, schools, and deaneries.

During the vespers, Bishop Brennan credited the seminary, its faculty, his fellow seminarians, and priests of both dioceses for inspiring his pastoral ministry.

“Even now, as a new generation forms, you continue to inspire me, and more than you know,” he said. “We talk even now about tremendous faculty, people who shaped us, formed us — very brilliant minds, but also very pastoral people.”

The seminary now functions as a retreat center, but Bishop Brennan continues to lead people back there for spiritual deepening and renewal. He held his first bishop’s retreat for high school students there last March. In late September, he conducted a priests’ convocation at the seminary.

“This is a place where we deepen our bonds of friendship,” he said, “and we deepen our relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Bishop Robert Brennan (above with Msgr. Steven Camp, rector of the seminary) displays the Immaculate Conception Medal he received on Sunday, Nov. 6. (Photo: Bill Miller)