Bishop Jaime Soto will preside at a funeral Mass for Father Ronan Brennan, a retired priest of the Diocese of Sacramento, on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at 11 a.m. in St. Teresa of Avila Church, 11600 Atwood Road in Auburn. Burial will follow at 2:30 p.m. at Calvary Cemetery, 7101 Verner Ave. in Citrus Heights.
Father Brennan, who served as a priest of the diocese for 68 years, died on Oct. 26. He was 92. He retired from active ministry on Oct. 1, 1992. He has been residing at Mercy McMahon Terrace assisted living in Sacramento. He was pastor emeritus of Immaculate Conception Parish in Sutter Creek.
A vigil for Father Brennan will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 6 in St. Teresa of Avila Church. Viewing will be held at 4 p.m., followed by the rosary at 5 p.m. and the vigil service at 6 p.m. Father Michael Carroll will preside.
A native of the village of Duleek, County Meath, Ireland, he began his primary education at the local national school and then in 1939 transferred to St. Finian College in Mullingar for the five years of his secondary education. During his high school years, visiting priests from different missionary congregations came to the college to speak to the students about priesthood and the missions.
In 1944, he entered All Hallows College in Dublin. His class began with some 43 students and 27 completed their studies and were ordained to the priesthood. All Hallows College was the only exclusively foreign mission seminary in Ireland.
Father Brennan originally signed up for service with the Diocese of Auckland, New Zealand, but as a first-year theology student was asked to switch to the Diocese of Sacramento, as Bishop Robert Armstrong had expressed the need for two seminarians.
He was ordained to the priesthood on June 18, 1950 at All Hallows College, along with three other priests, for service in the Diocese of Sacramento. On Sept. 18, 1950, he set sail from Ireland to the United States with 71 other priests.
Father Brennan started his ministry in October 1950 at St. Joseph Parish in Auburn, where he was assistant pastor until 1952. Four years as assistant pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish in Truckee followed. His primary duties, he said, were visiting homes to take a parish census and teaching catechism. He celebrated Masses in Truckee, Tahoe City and Kings Beach, and was the first priest to celebrate Mass in Squaw Valley in 1954, held in the bar of the Squaw Valley Lodge.
From 1956 to 1967, he served as chaplain at Folsom Prison, while residing at Holy Family Parish in Citrus Heights. In an interview with diocesan archivist, Father John Boll, he said his ministry at the prison was exciting and enjoyable, and he got along well with staff and inmates, although it was not always an easy ministry.
He was appointed pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in Tahoe City in September 1967 and served there until 1972. In May 1972, he was appointed as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Auburn, where he served until 1980. During that time he purchased 15 acres of land in north Auburn as a future site of a second church in the parish. Under his leadership, a new school was completed in 1981 on the new parish property.
He became pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Sutter Creek in 1980, including the missions of St. Mary of the Mountains Church in Plymouth and St. Bernard Church in Volcano. During his tenure, he renovated and expanded the parish hall in Sutter Creek as well as the church in Plymouth. He retired on Oct. 1, 1992.
In 2005, when the Diocese of Sacramento constructed the first phase of the Priests Retirement Village in Citrus Heights, he was the first priest to move into the village.
Father Brennan is survived by his brother Declan, sister-in-law, Chrissie, and their children, as well as many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.