A- A A+

Corpus Christi homily

Frank Brennan |  02 June 2013

Frank Brennan and his brother Paul outside the Brennan and Geraghty store established in 1871It is a great pleasure for me and my brother Paul to join you here at St Mary's Maryborough for mass this morning on the feast of Corpus Christi. Last Sunday he and I were celebrating with our parents who were marking their 60th wedding anniversary with their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren — four generations. Yesterday we joined the descendants of those who arrived here in Maryborough on the David McIver 150 years ago. On that boat was my father's great grandmother Annie Brennan who was a 40 year old widow with her five children including 11year old son Martin who was later to be our great grandfather. Martin's brother Patrick then aged 18 was later to go into partnership with Martin Geraghty who had also been on the boat and who married another of the Brennan children, Catherine. In 1871 the Brennan and Geraghty store was built — they were importers of general merchandise. The store is a National Trust building here in Maryborough to this day.

Here in Maryborough the Catholic community has always acknowledged its debt to Mary MacKillop and the sisters of St Joseph. Mary's early mentor was the enigmatic Fr Julian Tenison Woods who later became concerned that Mary under the influence of the Jesuits was too lax in matters of poverty and obedience. Tenison Woods also had a number of conflicts with bishops in South Australia and New South Wales.

When Tenison Woods was no longer welcome in the south, he being one of Australia's great nineteenth century naturalists, came and conducted many scientific expeditions and parish missions here in Queensland. He passed through Maryborough on about 10 occasions between 1872 and 1881. He was here for the opening of your new church in 1872. In February 1881, he conducted a parish mission here over many days. Family folklore has it that he got Martin Brennan off the grog and back to church. My grandfather was then Martin's next son born almost four years later. The effects of the mission must have been long lasting as my grandfather was named Frank Tenison Brennan, as am I. I can only presume that ours is not the only Catholic family in Australia owing an inter-generational debt to the peripatetic priest scientist who always combined scientific inquiry with sacramental service in the most remote parts of the country.

Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the death of the ever loveable Pope John XXIII. It is also the 21st birthday of the High Court's historic Mabo judgment. Who would have thought that one of Annie Brennan's great grandchildren would have played an instrumental role in that judgment extending legal recognition to Aborigines of their land rights? We are all hoping that our new pope Francis will continue to emulate Johnn XXIII with his simplicity and down to earth spirituality. Just last week he told some bishops: 'Being shepherds also means walking among and behind the flock, being able to listen to the silent account of those who suffer and support the steps of those who fear they will not make it.' We all appreciate such servant leadership from time to time. For too long our church has been marked by the clericalism of those who think they lead from in front of the flock with lofty theological statements.

Looking back over the seven generations of my family who have lived in Australia, I recall that they have been a Eucharistic people sharing the Lord's banquet, receiving food for the journey, sometimes intermittently. All of us come from families with similar histories, secular and sacred. We recall the practicality of the twelve who pointed out to Jesus that they did not have the wherewithal to provide for everyone in need. They urged him to send the 5,000 on their way 'so that they can go to the surrounding villages and farms and find lodging and provisions; for we are in a deserted place here.' He said to them, as he says to us today, 'Give them some food yourselves.'

Like the twelve we know that on our own we have nothing near enough to good enough, 'Five loaves and two fish are all we have'. How could we possibly provide for all those in need? All it takes is the little we have. But we have to give it all, in faith. Invited to the table of The Lord, we can eat and be satisfied with twelve basket loads left over. Like Mary MacKillop and Tenison Woods, we can go to the frontiers providing sustenance for others. Praying in gratitude for the last seven generations, we pray for those who are to come that as often as they eat this bread and drink the cup, they might proclaim the death of the Lord until he comes. Thanks so much for welcoming us here to the place where our ancestors first shared the Eucharist in this land.


Frank Brennan headshotThe above text is from Fr Frank Brennan SJ's Corpus Christi Sunday homily at St Mary's Parish, Maryborough, 2 June 2013. Pictured: Frank Brennan and his brother Paul outside the Brennan and Geraghty store established in 1871.


 



Comments

Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.

Word Count: 0 (please limit to 200)

Similar articles

The past, present and future of the Easter Rising 1916

2 Comments
Frank Brennan | 02 May 2016


Neerkol orphanage findings and the place of compassion

16 Comments
Frank Brennan | 22 April 2016

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now published its Case Study 26 on the Neerkol Orphanage in Rockhampton. It finds that the response by the bishop and by the Sisters of Mercy to victims making complaints prior to 1996 was often inadequate and lacking in compassion. The word 'compassion' or 'compassionate' appears 21 times in the report. I have no problem with church people or other individuals adversely judging church leaders for a lack of compassion. There may even be a case for politicians doing it. But I don't think it's the job of a royal commission.


Religious thought in sacred secular Australia

6 Comments
Frank Brennan | 22 March 2016

Wayne Hudson's Australian Religious ThoughtI offer no public judgment of Pell, and unlike many other commentators I'll await the findings of the royal commission. I have however been outspoken about his right to a fair hearing and natural justice, not because I am a priest but because I am a human rights lawyer who cares about the universal application of the rule of law. It is when a representative of institutional religion like Pell taps into the generic religious sensibility or moral consciousness that the real work of Australian religious thought is done.


Year of Mercy's opportunity for Aboriginal reconciliation

Frank Brennan | 07 March 2016

'On his last two visits to Latin America, Pope Francis has focused on past and present relationships between indigenous peoples and their colonisers. This Jubilee Year of Mercy perhaps it could be a blessed moment for Aboriginal Australians and descendants of their colonisers to walk together through the Door of Mercy at the St Francis Xavier Cathedral, calling to mind the sins and endeavours of the past, the achievements and commitments of the present, and the hopes and aspirations of the future.' Fr Frank Brennan SJ, Lenten Talk, Norwood Parish, 3 March 2016


Pope Francis and the face of mercy

2 Comments
Frank Brennan | 09 December 2015

'I joined the Jesuits in 1975 just as the previous 32nd General Congregation (GC32) was concluding. Pedro Arrupe was at the height of his powers. That Congregation asked the question: 'What is it to be a companion of Jesus today?' and answered unequivocally, 'It is to engage, under the standard of the Cross, in the crucial struggle of our time: the struggle for faith and that struggle for justice which it includes.' I have always regarded myself as a GC32 Jesuit. Many of those who gathered for GC33 thought that the GC32 mission was a little too one-dimensional. I suspect Bergoglio was one of those.' Frank Brennan on the eve of the Catholic Church's Jubilee Year of Mercy.