On behalf of Brennan’s entire family we would like to thank all of you who took the time to say a prayer or write a comment (either by mail or on the social networks) about Brennan and how he impacted your lives.
It has been comforting to read the many posts during this difficult time for all of us.
Gerry & Art Rubino
“Suffering, failure, loneliness, sorrow, discouragement, and death will be part of your journey, but the Kingdom of God will conquer all these horrors. No evil can resist grace forever.”
Richard Francis Xavier Manning, better known to legions of faithful readers as author, speaker, and contemplative Brennan Manning, for whom grace was irresistible, completed his earthly journey on Friday, April 12 at 12:10AM. He is now resting safely in the arms of his Abba.
Brennan was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. After attending St. John’s University for two years, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving overseas as a sports writer for the U.S. Marine Corps newspaper. Upon his return, Brennan began a program in journalism at the University of Missouri. He departed after a semester, restlessly searching for something “more” in life. “Maybe the something ‘more’ is God,” an adviser suggested, triggering Brennan’s enrollment at Saint Francis Catholic seminary in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
In February 1956, while Brennan was meditating on the Stations of the Cross, a powerful experience of the personal love of Jesus Christ sealed the call of God on his life. Four years later, he graduated from Saint Francis College with a major in philosophy and minor in Latin. He went on to complete four years of advanced studies in theology. While in the seminary, he was sent to Columbia University as a graduate student in creative writing. He graduated from St. Francis Seminary and was ordained to the Franciscan priesthood in May of 1963.
Brennan’s ministry responsibilities varied greatly. He served as a theology instructor and campus minister at the University of Steubenville. He worked as the liturgy instructor and spiritual director at Saint Francis Seminary. He lived and worked among the poor in Europe and the U.S.
During a two-year leave of absence from the Franciscans in the late sixties, Brennan journeyed to Spain and joined the Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld. An order committed to an uncloistered, meditative life among the poor. Among his many and varied assignments, he became a solitary reflective, secluded in a remote cave for six months in the Zaragoza desert.
The early seventies found Brennan back in the U.S. as he and four other priests established an experimental community in the bustling seaport city of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Seeking to model the primitive life of the Franciscans, the fathers settled in a house on Mississippi Bay and quietly went to work on shrimp boats, ministering to the shrimpers and their families who had drifted out of reach from the church. The fathers restored a chapel that had been destroyed by Hurricane Camille and offered a Friday night liturgy and social event there, which soon became a popular gathering and precipitated many families’ return to engagement in the local church.
From Alabama, Brennan moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and resumed campus ministry at Broward Community College. This was harshly interrupted, however, when he suffered a precipitate collapse into alcoholism. Six months of treatment restored his health and placed him on the road to recovery.
It was at this point in his life that Brennan began writing in earnest. One book soon followed another as invitations for him to speak and to lead spiritual retreats multiplied exponentially. He spent the remainder of his life traveling widely as he continued to write and preach, encouraging men and women everywhere to accept and embrace the good news of God’s unconditional love in Jesus Christ.
He wrote many influential and popular books, including The Ragamuffin Gospel, Abba’s Child, The Parable of Willie Juan and Ruthless Trust. His final book was his memoir, All is Grace.
Brennan was the son of the late Emmett and Amy Manning. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his brother, Robert Emmett Manning, and his sister-in-law, Celie Manning. His sister, Geraldine Rubino, and her husband, Art, survive him. He will be deeply missed by his nieces and nephews: Amy Sweeney and her husband, Pat; Kevin Manning and his wife, Catherine; Patrick Manning; Kathleen Stanley; Mary Feinman and her husband, Stuart; Kerry Betlesky and her husband, Scott; Erin Embon and her husband, Dan; Sean Rubino and his wife, Laurie; Tim Rubino; and Meghan Lozano and her husband, Jim. His sixteen grand-nieces and grand-nephews will also miss him dearly, as will his stepdaughters, Simone Rackley Emert of California and Nicole Rackley Sears of Texas.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:
The Church of St. Rose
St. Vincent DePaul Society
Belmar, NJ 07719