Jesuit Father Lawrence Brennan died on January 15, 2015, at the Ajax-Pickering Hospital in Ontario, Canada. He was 88 and in religious life for nearly 70 years. Fr. Brennan was born on June 8, 1927, in Regina, Saskatchewan; the son of Daniel Brennan and Jessie Mullins.
His brother Joseph entered the Society of Jesus in 1942, and three years later, Fr. Brennan followed him into the novitiate at Guelph, Ontario. After taking first vows in 1948, Fr. Brennan did the usual two-year program of juniorate before moving to Toronto for philosophy at the Jesuit Seminary.
It was in 1954 that Fr. Brennan began his long ministry to the native people of northern Ontario. He was assigned to regency at Garnier Residential School in Spanish, Ontario. He worked there for three years and returned to Toronto in 1957 for theology. Ordination took place in Toronto on June 19, 1960. Tertianship followed in 1961 at St. Beuno’s in Wales.
On his return to Canada in 1962, Fr. Brennan was sent to Holy Cross Mission at Wikwemikong on Manitoulin Island. Fr. Brennan thrived in northern Ontario. He spent three years at Wikwemikong, 18 years at Heron Bay and 13 years at Armstrong, for a grand total of 37 years, including his regency. He was greatly appreciated by the native people at Heron Bay and they made him an honorary chief. Fr. Brennan’s final move was to Pickering in 1996. He was involved in pastoral ministry and served at the Martyrs’ Shrine during the summer season from 1996 to 2009.
He had a wealth of knowledge, not only about the native peoples’ apostolate and on the Canadian Martyrs, but also on Jesuits and the province history. He was never shy of expressing an opinion on many diverse topics; his mind was clear to the very end of his life. He was looking forward to presiding at the René Goupil Christmas Eve Mass with his moose-skin chasuble and Honorary Chief head-dress, when on December 23 he was hospitalized. A man of prayer, Fr. Brennan was devoted to the time-honored form of Catholic piety — holy hours, the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, litanies, feast day vigils, etc. In fact, he often led these devotions in the infirmary chapel.