Dr. Phil Brennan
Dr. Phil Brennan lives in Waterford, Ireland and has recently completed his doctoral thesis on ‘A Critical Evaluation Of The Potential Of Liberation Theology To Renew The Irish Catholic Church’ in Waterford Institute of Technology. Dr. Brennan has been a staunch advocate of the need for reform in the Church and he combines his consultancy work with small Christian communities with his role as musical director of the ‘Island of Ireland Peace Choir’. His workshops and seminars invite people to step in from the sidelines of the Church and play a decisive role in shaping the course of what is to come. His life and writings bear testimony to his unwavering belief in the power of the human spirit and the capacity of each individual to draw on inner reserves in their efforts to deal with adversity and uncertainty. Dr. Brennan has been unstinting in his dedication to working on the margins among those once powerless in the Church and in wider society. His philosophy is simply; in seeking to empower others, we ourselves become empowered.
An accomplished musician and composer, Dr. Brennan is the founder and musical director of ‘The Island of Ireland Peace Choir’. Formed in the aftermath of a bomb in Omagh, Northern Ireland in 1998 that claimed 31 lives, the choir has become synonymous with the promotion of peace and reconciliation through their music. They have performed throughout Ireland, North and South, and have recently visited Messines, Belgium this Christmas to commemorate the 100th anniversary of ‘The Christmas Peace Truce’. In the wake of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the choir built several homes for orphaned children and visited these homes in 2008 as part of their ongoing outreach to these children. The choir recently performed the anthems in the football international between Ireland and England in The Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Dr. Brennan is convinced that the time has come for the people need to step in from the sidelines and point the Church closer to where it is meant to be. During his time as teacher in St. Angela’s Secondary School, Waterford, Phil founded the St. Angela’s Peace and Justice Group and worked with a team of teachers and pupils to highlight issues ranging from the problem of homelessness in Ireland to the plight of people under military rule in Burma. Students regularly visited local nursing homes, they sang each week in their local parish, they organised fundraising events to help homeless people in their locality and highlighted social justice issues of local, national and global significance. Among the guest who visited the school during their annual peace and justice weeks were Nobel Laureates Archbishop Carlos Belo, East Timor and John Hume, Northern Ireland along with countless distinguished visitors who inspired the young people to see the difference they too could make.
Dr. Brennan argues that if the institutional Church simply repeats the ways of the past, it risks heading down a road of irreversible decline. The residual scar of the child sex abuse scandals and the unimaginable hurt it has wreaked continue to scream at us and tell us that we have no choice but to change course. He believes that out of the shadows of the past, something more credible and more inclusive of the people needs to grow. The hope the Church seeks today is discovered in the shadows among those who are no longer content to remain silent and voiceless.