By Father David Schalk
I feel privileged to know Bishop Robert Brennan and to have had the opportunity to serve alongside him in the Diocese of Columbus as the Vicar for Hispanic Ministry.
It would not be difficult for me to name a great number of his positive attributes, but the ones that impress me the most are his graciousness, tirelessness, and paternal love.
I remember when the bishop and I met for the first time with Father Tomas Carvahal, C.R., a religious order priest originally from Mexico. The bishop had breakfast prepared for the three of us in his dining room.
When Father Tomas sat down, the bishop immediately served him coffee, asked him about his time in Columbus, and expressed profound gratitude for his visit.
It was beautiful to watch the bishop put Father Tomas at ease with kind gestures and humility that morning. He has a way of making others feel welcomed and appreciated.
It is his courteousness, gentleness, and sincerity that give people the sense that they are with an old friend even if they are meeting the bishop for the first time.
Last summer, the diocese organized a special gathering for the Hispanic community for the Year of Saint Joseph, a mini-festival in honor of the spouse of the Virgin Mary. Being the vicar for Hispanic Ministry, I arrived early to help set up. It was a surprise to see Bishop Brennan there early as well. He was already greeting people and helping prepare for Mass.
Even after the prayers that afternoon, the bishop did not slow down one bit. He was intent on interacting with everyone present.
Remarkably, I did not see Bishop Brennan sit down once during the entire four-hour event. It was close to 10 p.m before the program ended, and my 39-year-old body was exhausted. On the way to my car, I stopped to chat with the bishop, who informed me that he was going to stay with the volunteers as they did their cleanup.
I honestly do not know where he finds his energy, but Bishop Brennan has strength each day to accompany his people well after dusk.
The priests of the Diocese of Columbus met during a convocation shortly after Bishop Brennan came to Columbus. We had high expectations for our new shepherd during that three-day retreat, and we were more than delighted when those expectations were surpassed.
Specifically, we were looking for a spiritual father, and Bishop Brennan opened up his heart to us. Through his words of affirmation, authenticity, and vulnerability, the bishop created a real bond between him and his priests. Over and over again, he has proven himself to be a true father, not only to his priests but to all of the people of the Diocese of Columbus, guiding us as we follow Christ together.
Father David Schalk is the vicar for Hispanic Ministry, Diocese of Columbus, and pastor of Christ the King Church and Saint Thomas the Apostle Church.