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Franciscan Friday: Friar in South Africa Receives Awards

Fr. Stan Brennan, OFM

[EDITOR’ NOTE, JULY 6, 2012: We have learned that Fr. Stan passed away  today. Last Sunday he joined Tim, Cecilia and other members of St. Francis Care for prayer, and he received communion in his wheelchair from Tim. “It was wonderful to be together in his company with the group,” Cecilia said.

She has asked, “Please pray for Father Stan and those of us here who will be trying to continue his wonderful work at the St. Francis Care Center.”]

At FMS, we take pride in partnering with Franciscans all over the world. Earlier this month, one of our partners in South Africa was honored with two awards in one day.

Fr. Stan Brennan, OFM, originally from Ireland, is the founder of the St. Francis Care Clinic in Johannesburg where Tim and Cecilia Marcy serve people with HIV and AIDS.

In celebration of Fr. Stan’s work against HIV and AIDS, the Japanese Emperor, via the Japanese Ambassador, bestowed on Fr. Stan the 6th class Grand Cordon Order Award of the Rising Sun Silver and Gold Rays. The award has been given only nine times since it started in 1875.

Cecilia shared with us how she, Tim, and 30 other associates of St. Francis Care Centre attended the ceremony at the Japanese Embassy in Pretoria. Sadly, the 83-year-old priest was too sick to make the hour-long trip himself, so his brother accepted the award on his behalf. Later a representative from the embassy came to personally present the award to Fr. Stan at the St. Francis Care Centre where he is retired.

Earlier in the day, Fr. Stan had been released from the hospital to receive an award from the South African government for his help in the fight against the apartheid, the enforced racial segregation that had persisted for decades under the National Party.  

It was one of many special centenary celebrations in South Africa this year honoring people who have been important in the history of the country. During the apartheid struggles, Fr. Stan had helped hide some of the anti-apartheid leaders such Nelson Mandela. Fr. Stan has also helped with education of the blacks and coloreds during that period and providing places for people to meet for planning purposes.

According to the Irish Franciscans, Fr. Stan has lived in South African since 1965 and started several other projects in the Boksburg community that are still running today:

  • A day care center for the aged, founded in 1967
  • A matriculation project which since 1986 assists more than 700 students a year to finish their final years of high school
  • A drug- and alcohol-focused rehabilitation center, founded in  1988
  • St. Anthony’s skills development center, which since 1994 has provided disadvantaged and marginalized people with skills to assist them in earning a living
  • Mercy Haven, which opened in 2006 to shelter abused women in children.

The St. Francis Care Centre, where the Marcys serve, started in 1992 as a hospice dedicated to people dying from AIDS-related illnesses and has since then opened two free clinics, a nursery school and a child care center which fostering 30 children infected with AIDS, ranging from infancy to age seven.

We congratulate Fr. Stan on his awards, and thank him for his example and dedication to service to those in need. 

We prepare and support lay Catholics for two-year international, one-year domestic and 1-2 week short-term mission service opportunities in solidarity with impoverished and marginalized communities across the globe.

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