Catholic Bishop of Columbus gives final local masses

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In a Catholic church in Long Beach, New York, where Bishop Robert Brennan long past ministered, once stood a steeple.

He had neither a bell nor a light. But as Brennan recounted in a Sunday homily at Christ the King Catholic Church in the Near East, the tower nonetheless functioned as a beacon guiding ships and boats sailing south through the Atlantic Ocean.

Likewise, Brennan told nearly 200 parishioners who gathered for 10 a.m. mass on Sunday that their church on Livingston Avenue functions as a beacon guiding residents of surrounding neighborhoods seeking Jesus Christ.

“Show the way,” said Brennan, “show the direction to hope. “

Father David Schalk, left, and Bishop Robert J Brennan give Communion during one of Brennan's final masses in Columbus at Christ the King Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Brennan has been reassigned to be the new Bishop of Brooklyn.  It was also the 75th anniversary of the opening of the church.

It was in this church where on Sunday – the feast of Christ the King – Brennan would celebrate her last mass as head of the Diocese of Columbus before returning to New York.

Brennan, 59, the 12th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus who was installed in 2019, was reassigned by the Vatican to serve as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn in September and has officially served as apostolic administrator since then. He will be installed as their bishop on November 30.

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A few days later, the Diocesan College of Consultors, a group of priests who typically advise the bishop, will meet and elect a diocesan administrator until a new bishop of Columbus is appointed, said deacon Thomas Berg, diocesan chancellor.

That person will be a priest who will oversee the affairs of the diocese for a few weeks or months, as it is not certain when the next bishop will be chosen, Berg said.

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“It’s very difficult to predict,” he said. “We hope as soon as possible, but there is a vetting process going on with the Vatican and among the American bishops, and it’s extremely difficult to predict how long that will take.”

Bishop Robert J Brennan, left, takes place behind Father David Schalk after one of Brennan's final masses in Columbus at Christ the King Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Brennan was reassigned to be the new bishop of Brooklyn.  “I know you don't need these worlds of affirmation or thanksgiving, but we owe you a debt of gratitude.  You've done so much in Columbus in such a short period of time, ”said Schalk.

The two bishops of Columbus who served before Brennan – Bishop Frederick Campbell and Bishop James Griffin – both retired and served until the next bishop was installed, Berg said.

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Before Campbell and Griffin, there may also have been an auxiliary bishop who could take on the role while waiting for a new bishop to be installed, he said. There is currently no auxiliary bishop, so the group of priests will decide who among the diocesan priests should lead.

The College of Consultors includes:

  • Bishop Stephan J. Moloney, who is also pastor of St. Andrew’s Parish in Upper Arlington
  • Reverend Stash Dailey, pastor at Holy Family in Franklinton
  • Reverend Daniel Dury, Pastor of St. John Neumann in Sunbury
  • Reverend Mark Hammond, Pastor of St. Luke Catholic Church in Danville
  • The Rev. Michael Hartge, moderator of the curia for the diocese
  • The Right Reverend Michael Lumpe, Vice-Rector of the College of Liberal Arts at Pontifical Josephinum College on the north side
  • Reverend Robert Penhallurick, Pastor of St. Brendan the Navigator at Hilliard
  • Reverend David Schalk, Pastor of Christ the King of the East Side and Vicar for Hispanic Ministry
  • The Rev. David Sizemore, pastor of St. Francis de Sales in Newark.
Bishop Robert J Brennan delivers the homily during one of his final masses in Columbus at Christ the King Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday, November 21, 2021. Brennan has been reassigned to be the new Bishop of Brooklyn.

During her homily to Christ the King on Sunday, Brennan did not acknowledge her impending departure. Instead, he chose to devote this time to professing his condolences for the sudden passing of Ward Father Dennis Stevenson, as well as offering his congratulations and best wishes to Ward Deacon Pete Labita, who took his retirement after over 41 years.

“Thank goodness for the generations who built this parish for us,” said Brennan. “Thank God for the priests who have served here and who are serving here now.”

But after the communion services, Father David Schalk addressed the congregation and thanked Bishop Brennan for his dedication to both the Diocese of Columbus and the Church of Christ the King.

“We owe you a debt of gratitude, and it is a pleasure to thank you for all you have done,” said Schalk.

Bishop Robert J Brennan, left, greets Samuel Bissou, 7, left, and his mother Merie after one of Brennan's final masses in Columbus at Christ the King Catholic Church in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday Nov. 21, 2021. “It has ended so much for the church at the school level by investing in their education,” Merie said.

The parishioners themselves had the chance to say their farewells after mass at a reception at the adjacent gymnasium.

Merie Bissou and her 7-year-old son Samuel were among those who wished him good luck and thanked him for his service.

“He has done so much for this church,” said Bissou. “Having him here in Columbus has been great, but he’s been called to go elsewhere.”

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