Bishop Mark E. Brennan

Biography

A Boston native, Bishop Brennan is the son of the late Edward Charles Brennan and Regina Claire Lonsway. He attended public schools in Massachusetts and Maryland before entering St. Anthony High School in Washington, D.C. Bishop Brennan graduated from Brown University in 1969 with a degree in history, and then entered Christ the King Seminary in Alleghany, New York for a year of philosophy before attending the Pontifical North American College in Rome for his theological studies. A parish priest for nearly his entire career, Bishop Brennan was assigned to Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, MD, from 1976-81; St. Pius X Parish in Bowie, MD, from 1981-85; St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda, MD, from 1986-88; St. Thomas Apostle Parish in Washington, D.C., from 1998-2003; St. Martin of Tours Parish in Gaithersburg, MD from 2003-16. Bishop Brennan attended Spanish Language courses and Hispanic cultural studies in the Dominican Republic and in Colombia from 1985-86. From 1988 to 1998, Bishop Brennan was the Director of Priestly Vocations in the Archdiocese of Washington. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore on Dec. 5, 2016, and ordained on Jan. 19, 2017.

Most Rev. Mark E. Brennan

A Conversation with Bishop Mark Brennan

Coat of Arms of Most Reverend Mark E. Brennan

Blazon: Arms impaled. Dexter: Party per chevron, Gules and chevronny of six Argent and Vert; overall a lily, stemmed and leaved Or. Sinister; Azure, at the centre point and escutcheon Or. charged with an “M” of the first below two diadems per fess and to base a lion’s head all of the first.

Significance: The episcopal heraldic achievement, or bishop’s coat of arms, is composed of a shield that is the central and most important part of the design and tells to whom the design belongs, joined with the external ornamentation that tells the owner’s position or rank, and a motto placed upon a scroll. By heraldic tradition the design is described (blazoned) as if being done by the bearer with the shield being worn on the arm. Thus, where it applies, the terms sinister and dexter are reversed as the design is viewed from the front.

By heraldic tradition the arms of the bishop of a diocese, often referred to as the Local Bishop or Ordinary, are joined to the arms of his jurisdiction. In this case, these are the arms of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia. These arms are composed of a red field on which are displayed a series of chevrons in silver (white) and green, representing the mountains of West Virginia. Overall is shown a gold (yellow) lily, with its full stem and leaves, to honor the titular of the Cathedral-Church in Wheeling.

For his personal arms, seen in the sinister impalement (right side) of the design, His Excellency Bishop Brennan has simplified the design he used for his tenure as an Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

On a blue field are displayed two gold (yellow) crowns to honor his parents, Regina (the Latin word for queen) and Edward, to honor Saint Edward the Confessor of England. At the center of the design is a small shield, known as an escutcheon, that is gold (yellow) and is charged with a blue “M” to honor the most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mankind. The escutcheon is placed above a lion’s head to represent with a classic charge St. Mark, the Bishop’s baptismal Patron.

For his motto, Bishop Brennan has chosen the phrase “LIVING THE TRUTH IN LOVE”, for it is in the love of Jesus Christ that the truth, regardless of it being high note or low, will win out.

The achievement is completed with the external ornaments of a galero with its six tassels on either side of the shield and the gold processional cross that extends above and below the shield. These are the heraldic insignia of prelates of the rank of bishop by instruction of the Holy See, as of March 1969. The Crozier, or Pastoral Staff, represents the bishop’s ministry as a shepherd to God’s people. Bishop Brennan’s is unique in that it is a simple wooden crozier with no adornments. It was designed and made by Deacon Cahoon, who also made the chair for Pope Francis in the canonization Mass for Junipero Serra and the altar for Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 Mass in Washington, DC.

The Mitre is worn on the head of a bishop as a sign of his office and a symbol of his authority.

The Ring is a sign of the bishop’s fidelity to and nuptial bond with the Church. Each bishop adopts a ring of his individual design to be worn at all times.

Press Release

Pope Francis Announces Appointment of Bishop Mark E. Brennan As Ninth Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia

WHEELING, W.Va.— Pope Francis has named the Most Reverend Mark E. Brennan, currently Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore, as the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Bishop Brennan, 72, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington on May 15, 1976 by the then-Archbishop William W. Baum.

A Boston native, Bishop Brennan is the son of the late Edward Charles Brennan and Regina Claire Lonsway. He attended public schools in Massachusetts and Maryland before entering St. Anthony High School in Washington, D.C. Bishop Brennan graduated from Brown University in 1969 with a degree in history, and then entered Christ the King Seminary in Alleghany, New York for a year of philosophy before attending the Pontifical North American College in Rome for his theological studies. A parish priest for nearly his entire career, Bishop Brennan was assigned to Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, MD, from 1976-81; St. Pius X Parish in Bowie, MD, from 1981-85; St. Bartholomew Parish in Bethesda, MD, from 1986-88; St. Thomas Apostle Parish in Washington, D.C., from 1998-2003; St. Martin of Tours Parish in Gaithersburg, MD from 2003-16. Bishop Brennan attended Spanish Language courses and Hispanic cultural studies in the Dominican Republic and in Colombia from 1985-86. From 1988 to 1998, Bishop Brennan was the Director of Priestly Vocations in the Archdiocese of Washington. He was appointed Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese of Baltimore on Dec. 5, 2016, and ordained on Jan. 19, 2017.

“I am deeply honored to be appointed the new bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese and am grateful to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for his confidence in me to now lead the Catholic faithful here in West Virginia in a spirit of true Christian service,” said Bishop Brennan. “As my parents both retired to this great State a number of years ago, I am no stranger and, in fact, a great admirer of the beauty of its landscape and people. It will be my first priority to meet and get to know the good people across this diocese who are working each and every day to make lives better, to lift those who are suffering and in need of comfort, support and hope, and through their determined actions, living the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even as we work toward bringing about true healing and renewal here in this local Church – work begun so well by Archbishop William Lori – I am full of hope and confidence for what we can accomplish together. There is immense need which is matched by immense desire and determination to reinvigorate the Church here in West Virginia and across our nation. As your brother and servant, I look forward to soon being back with you and to the joy of living and working among you.”

The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, which includes nearly 75,000 Catholics, 95 parishes and 34 smaller missions and chapels, encompasses the entire state of West Virginia. Currently, there are approximately 250 diocesan and religious priests, women religious and religious brothers, in addition to 25 primary and secondary Catholic schools, serving roughly 7000 students. The Diocese also has one Catholic hospital (Wheeling Hospital) and one Catholic higher education institution (Wheeling University).

The formal installation of Bishop Brennan will take place on Thursday, August 22 at 2:00 p.m. in the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling.

Queenship of Mary

The beginnings of veneration for The Blessed Virgin Mary (it is important to note that worship and adoration belong to God alone and are given to Him alone) is rooted in the earliest moments of Salvation History: Immediately after Adam and Eve bent their ear to the serpent’s voice and abused their free will to disobey God, He set forth the good news of redemption and spoils the whole ending of the human drama of salvation. Speaking to the serpent God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman. And between her offspring and yours. He will bruise your head while you bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Since time immemorial, we have seen “the woman” of Genesis as Mary, the new Eve, who willingly says “yes” to God in place of Eve saying “no.” Where Eve brings about disruption between God and man, Mary becomes the instrument of the intimate union of God in men: The Incarnation.

The Fathers of the Church have written volumes on Mary as the vessel containing the very physical presence of God in the world- the ark of Noah, the burning bush, and especially the Ark of the Covenant. Two instances in Isaiah intertwine with the rest of the Old Testament promises and images of a Messianic kingdom. First in Isiah 7:14 prophesies “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” God is with us! Secondly, the reading for August 22nd from Isaiah tells us who Emmanuel will be- “God-Hero, Wonder-Counselor, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.” Both instances drive home the point of the first Gospel (Genesis 3:15) and provide an image of triumphal fulfillment that the Son given to the world will conquer darkness and oppression and set up a vast kingdom of peace and justice. The kingdom is the Church in heaven and on earth whose Queen is the Blessed Virgin Mary. How are sons born into the world? Do they not need a mother who willingly gives over her own body and her own life to allow such a miracle to take place?

The Mother Queen is revealed to us in St. Luke’s Gospel. The Angel Gabriel greets the immaculately conceived Virgin and calls her who she is, “full of grace.” Not as some kind of “aren’t you one lucky lady?” But, as the divine compliment and complement that Mary of Nazareth is the immaculate Ark of the New Covenant, the maternal kindling aflame with theophany, the chosen vessel of the Son’s entry point for salvation to commence, the human tabernacle of the Word’s real presence. Mary is the moment the Body of Christ, the Church is conceived incarnate. Later when Mary travels to visit her cousin Elizabeth, the Baptist’s mother salutes her as “Mother of My Lord!” What clearer evidence of the exalted state that Mary enjoys? She surpasses all the saints who have ever lived, she is the full of grace mother of the Lord! The Queen of Heaven!

The world needs Mary and fervent devotion to her because she points us always to her Son, God’s Son, Jesus Christ. We honor her as the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Heaven because she said “Yes!” when God presented her with her vocation to be the mother of His only begotten Son. No small task. Don’t we strive to honor all those who achieve notable goals in life be it modest or heroic: graduates, milestone birthdays, first responders and veterans? What parent has not enshrined the scribbly artwork of a child on the refrigerator and celebrated that same child for her glorious achievement? Is not God the Father more so doting on the Blessed Virgin for her fiat by permitting her the honor of Queen of Heaven? Why should we, the Church, Christ’s own brothers and sisters, the Father’s children, not honor Mary as Queen? Mary says “behold I am the handmaiden of the Lord.” Do we not honor her for this? She is the Handmaid Queen from the moment of the Incarnation all the way through the Crucifixion into the Resurrection and Ascension, only to be assumed body and soul and crowned Queen of Heaven. Celebrating the Queenship of Mary affords the proper close to the Octave of the Assumption which assures us of the Father’s promise to “raise up the lowly from the dust; from the dunghill he lifts up the poor. To seat them with princes, with the princes of his own people.” So we acclaim, Queen of Heaven rejoice! Blessed be the Lord, now and forever!