Pope Francis on March 5, 2019, named Bishop Joseph V. Brennan as the new bishop of Fresno, California. He is currently titular bishop of Trofimiana and auxiliary of Los Angeles.
The son of a San Fernando Valley grocer and the ninth of ten children, Bishop Brennan speaks fluent Spanish, and has a twin brother living in the diocese he will lead – a 35,000 square-mile territory with about 1.2 million Catholics situated in the heart of California’s agriculture-rich San Joaquin Valley, known as America’s “salad bowl” and the “food basket for the world.”
Bishop Brennan was born on March 20, 1954, in Van Nuys, California. He carried out his ecclesiastical studies at Saint John’s Seminary, Camarillo.
He was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on 21 June 1980.
Since ordination he has served as deputy priest of the Immaculate Heart of Mary parish in Los Angeles (1980-1983), of the Saint Linus parish in Norwalk (1983-1987), and of Saint Vibiana Cathedral in Los Angeles (1987-199), parish priest of the Saint Linus parish in Norwalk (1992-2004) and of the Holy Trinity parish in San Pedro (2004-2012). From 2013 to 2016 he served as vicar general and moderator of the Curia.
In 2015 he was appointed as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles.
Bishop Brennan reflected on his life and the new assignment in an interview with Angelus, the publication of the Archdiocese of Los Angelus:
“Growing up in the San Fernando Valley was absolutely the most wonderful time to grow up, I think: a lovely kind of social, cultural, Catholic bubble. We were a block away from St. Elisabeth in Van Nuys, our home parish.
“The seeds of the vocation were planted at home, but certainly encouraged by our Catholic school upbringing there at St. Elizabeth’s, where we had great young Irish priests as our associate pastors, and a curmudgeonly tough old Irish pastor, Msgr. Patrick F. O’Dwyer, of whom everyone was deathly afraid.
“My Uncle John or “Father John” was instrumental. He was an incredible inspiration, along with these awesome Irish priests. When he could come over for dinner on Sunday, he never really dressed as a priest, it was his time to relax and let his hair down. Black shoes, black pants, and he always wore a flannel shirt. So it wasn’t the uniform that attracted me, it was the person. It was just this obvious love of God that he had, this immense wisdom in his heart. Someone that, after being with him a few minutes, you can’t get enough, and you wanted to be like him because he’s just so good.”
Introducing his successor in an announcement to the faithful of Fresno, retiring Fresno Bishop Armando X. Ochoa said: “Over the years, I have come to know Bishop Brennan as a man of great faith, extraordinary talent, and love of his call to serve God’s people with the heart of Christ. After seven wonderful years as Bishop of the Diocese of Fresno, I know that the clergy, religious men and women, and all God’s people will welcome Bishop Brennan with open arms and open hearts.”