Jesuit Brother Vincent Martin Brennan died on June 14, 2014, at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was born in Charlestown, Massachusetts, on July 20, 1927. Both his parents, Martin J. Brennan and Annemarie Murphy, were originally from Ireland. Martin was a carpenter for the U.S. Post Office and Annemarie was a homemaker. Martin died at 88 and Annemarie died a few weeks short of her 100th birthday. Br. Brennan was the middle child of three, between his older brother Joe and his sister Eileen Brennan Rodgers. He was baptized at St. Mary’s Church, Charlestown. The family moved to Arlington Heights in 1935 and Br. Brennan attended Arlington High School for two years but then graduated from St. John’s High School in Cambridge in 1945.
The war was winding down in Europe but Br. Brennan was 17, many of his friends had enlisted, and he was eager to leave home and see something of the world. He enlisted in the Navy and started basic training in El Paso, Texas, a city he would return to as a tertian 16 years later. In 1946, he was discharged but remained a member of the Naval Reserve for five years. He worked at different jobs, made a lot of new friends and wondered what he would do with his life. His brother Joe had entered the Society in 1943 and was in the juniorate at Shadowbrook in Lenox, Massachusetts. Br. Brennan thought he might make a directed retreat and ask some questions about his future. He decided to enter the Society as a brother and in 1951 arrived at Shadowbrook. By then Joe was a regent at Cheverus High School in Portland, Maine.
Br. Brennan said he found the novitiate harder than naval boot camp but he persevered and took first vows in 1953. He remained at Shadowbrook, managing the refectory and then the large farm on the property. Three years later, the rector told Br. Brennan that he was needed at Cranwell Preparatory School, on the other side of Lenox. Br. Brennan was thrilled with the new assignment. He worked there for nearly 20 years in a variety of roles — groundskeeper, buyer for the community, manager of the student cafeteria, driver of the student bus — and enjoyed playing on the school’s golf course. In the last years the school operated, he served as sub-minister and minister of the community, remaining there until the school closed in 1975.
In that year, Br. Brennan was assigned to the recently closed retreat house, Campion Hall, in North Andover, Massachusetts, to help Frs. John Dustin Kelley and Tom Hennessy in maintaining and selling the building. In 1977, after the property was sold, Br. Brennan too moved to the new Campion Center, where he remained for the rest of his life. Again he was the groundskeeper, the manager of the community’s cars, chief snow plower and sub-minister. During those years he witnessed the transformation of half of the house to a federal and state nursing home facility.
The second-longest resident at Campion Center, Br. Brennan reflected once on his life in the Society. “Some people have jobs, but never seem satisfied and happy. But all my life I was happy to do what I was doing. God’s presence worked for me. It’s been good! And it’s still happening.” After a short final illness, Br. Brennan died at Massachusetts General Hospital on June 14, 2014.