Dublin footballer, Ger Brennan talks about his faith
Dublin GAA Star, Ger Brennan, is blessed with the gift of the gab and a strong faith. The 28-year-old centre back, who has known success both on and off the pitch, wears his ‘celebrity’ lightly and laughs when he describes himself as a bit of a ‘chancer’. It is this self-effacing manner that has endeared fans, and pupils at the school he teaches.
Tall, dark and cheekily good looking, the affable Dub is level headed with a self-confidence that comes from knowing who he is and what he stands for. One of the many upsides of this is that he is not afraid to take pot shots at himself. He is keenly aware of his faults and says, “Yeah, I get side-tracked by my ego and thrown off course sometimes, but I always feel drawn back to God. Anyway the fact that I have eight brothers and sisters and fairly copped on parents helps!”
Ger is mindful of the culture of ‘open confession’ that we live in, where even the most boring detail of people’s lives is open season, and is not on Facebook. “No, I prefer to keep myself to myself,” he says.
No hermit though, the All Ireland winner says he loves his few pints, the craic, his girlfriend and his football.
“I think of the GAA as another family and I’ve had great conversations on faith and the Church with other lads on team buses and hotel rooms.” He says he has never been made to feel ‘uncool’ as a result of his self-professed deep faith, “and to be honest I’d have no problem saying to anybody, well what do you stand for?”
“I’m happy in my faith and my God, happy with my beliefs, and to each his own. I’ll always defend my faith and I believe in the motto of ‘live and let live’. For me, faith is where it’s at. I endeavour to pray everyday and I find so much peace in the stillness. I believe I have been blessed with faith and it is a gift that I am very grateful for,” Ger says.
With a Master’s in Pastoral Theology, Ger is actively involved in youth ministry at St Kevin’s College in Ballygall, where he has started his third year as a teacher and school chaplain.
“We have great craic, the students and myself. I love their questions, their curiosity and the old bit of slagging too. I think the way students are taught and engaged with has a lasting impact on them and on their lives, so I try and do the best I can with them,” he says.
A former pupil of Belvedere College SJ, he has nothing but praise for the teachers who were his constant companions for many years.
“The Jesuits are great lads, they allow a guy be himself and explore his faith. They are always open for discussion and this is great. Look at Pope Francis, he’s a Jesuit and he practises what he preaches!
“To me, Pope Francis is showing great leadership and he is like a beacon of hope, light and charity. I really loved how he eschewed the papal palace and opted to live in more humble surroundings. He is faith and mission in action.”
Mission work was something Ger took an interest in when he was asked to go to Colombia some years ago.
“It was an unbelievable experience. I was teaching English in a very impoverished neighbourhood and we did work in one of the many orphanages too. There really was massive poverty but do you know what, so much love and happiness too. It made me feel so grateful and not, I hope, in an empty platitudinal way, but grateful that I can give myself a good kick when I need to get over myself!
“I was amazed by the people I met there, both the locals and the missionaries who went out to work with them. The dedication and commitment was simply staggering and it gave me great hope in humanity. People like this deserve respect, as they give respect and they give people hope for a better future. To me that is what it’s all about,” he says.
Ger has thrown his weight behind this year’s Mission Month of October, saying it “is a great opportunity for all of us to take stock and think of others far less fortunate than we are”.
“Mission Sunday is October 20 and I would urge people to give a bit as it goes a long way. Money sent by World Missions Ireland stretches like elastic and means so much. The projects that benefit are so deserving.
“They go across the whole spectrum, from healthcare to education, the whole lot,” Ger says.
For more information on Mission Month see www.wmi.ie