‘…for God all things are possible’ – Caroline Brennan Prepares for Ordination
Caroline Brennan will be ordained to the Diaconate in Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, on Sunday September 17 at 3.30pm along with Mathew McCauley. Archbishop Michael Jackson will preside and the preacher will be the Revd Nigel Waugh. All are welcome to attend. Here, Caroline writes about her life to date and what has led her to ordained ministry. She will serve as Deacon Intern in the Parish of Monkstown.
My name is Caroline Brennan and I live in Ballinteer, in Dublin, with my husband David and our son Oscar, who, at the time of writing this article, is very excitedly on the cusp of turning twelve. My home parish is Taney Parish, Dundrum, where I have worshipped for approximately twenty–five years, under the care and guidance of three wonderful rectors: Canon Des Sinnamon, Canon Robert Warren and the current rector, the Reverend Nigel Pierpoint. After my ordination, I will be serving as a full–time deacon in Monkstown parish with Canon Roy Byrne.
Prior to beginning my studies at the Church of Ireland Theological Institute, I was a lawyer and more recently, a civil servant. I specialised in family law for the bulk of my legal career. I was called to the Bar in 1999 and have practised as both a barrister and a solicitor in Dublin. In retrospect, now I can see that, my work with family law clients over the years was God’s way of both nudging me towards and preparing me for, ordained ministry. My family law practice allowed me opportunities to be with people during very challenging times of conflict and upheaval in their lives. As I reflect on that time now, in anticipation of ordination to the diaconate, I realise that God used my professional life to awaken and refine my calling to ordained ministry. I can see now that I was afforded a kind of God’s–eye view of the world– those people I encountered in my professional life, were carefully chosen encounters. They were God–given glimpses into people’s lives where God was always present and at work.
Immediately prior to commencing my ordination training I worked as a civil servant in the areas of administrative law and social justice. Part of this work brought me into contact with juvenile offenders. It gave me an opportunity to gain a deeper insight into many of the unseen inequalities and hardships experienced by so many of our young people in Ireland. I was, on many occasions, so very humbled by the innate wisdom and potential of the young people I met, many of whom had had very little formal education because of their life circumstances. I was often struck too, by the unmistakable sense of God’s presence guiding my work and my conversations.
Part of my work as a civil servant also allowed me the opportunity to meet with refugees and asylum seekers living in direct provision centres and emergency accommodation. God gifted me many encounters with remarkable people living within the refugee and asylum seeker system. I have been blessed to encounter people whose faith in God has remained strong notwithstanding their experiences of such unspeakable trauma and suffering in their home countries. I feel that God has gone to great lengths to reinforce in me a strong sense of compassion and service in all these life experiences.
As I embark upon my deacon intern year in Monkstown parish with Canon Roy Byrne and his ministry team, I am naturally, more than a little mindful of the sheer enormity of the responsibility of responding to God’s call. I confess I was equally tentative prior to each of my placements throughout my training. Those placements were in Zion parish, Kilternan parish and in the parishes of Sandford and Milltown. Each of those placements transpired to be wonderfully formative and taught me something new about God and about myself.
I am encouraged every day when I contemplate the words of Jesus in the Gospel of St Matthew: ‘…for God all things are possible’. I begin every day by holding fast to these words. I carry them around in my heart, all day, every day. I do so, because to take every next leap in my faith journey, I know I must trust God completely to lead me and to enable and equip me for what lies ahead. I cannot do any of this in my own power. I feel excited at the prospect of growing in faith alongside the people of Monkstown parish. I am encouraged by the ongoing support and prayers of my family, friends and the parishioners of my home parish and by the unfailing guidance and encouragement of the clergy of Taney Parish, both past and present.