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Bishop Hendricken’s former principal asks for forgiveness from alumni, region

Former Bishop Hendricken principal Jay Brennan_625697

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The longtime principal of Bishop Hendricken High School, who abruptly retired this week over an inflammatory video, apologized and asked for forgiveness for his recorded statement.

Jay Brennan retired the day after the clip was forwarded to the school’s administration.

The six-second video, which Hendricken’s president said was secretly recorded, was a 13-word sentence from Brennan that included disparaging slurs for black and Jewish people. The all-boys school is 13 percent minority, according to statistics released by a board member.

Brennan has not responded to requests for comment from Target 12, but sent the emailed apology to alumni Friday.

“I am writing this apology, asking for forgiveness for my words which were hurtful, ignorant, and contrary to every Christian belief,” Brennan wrote. “I would never intend to hurt any of our young men, of any race, color or creed. I wish there was a way that you could know that in my heart, I am not a racist, I am not an anti-Semite and that I truly care for each member of the Hendricken community.”

Read Brennan’s full apology »

Brennan did not offer any context for his statement that was emailed to Target 12 and the Providence branch of the NAACP on Tuesday. The sender did not include any content before or after Brennan spoke. Target 12 has reached out to the sender, but they have yet to respond to questions about when it was recorded or what led up to the inflammatory remark.

Hendricken President John Jackson said the “video clip is under review.”

“Mr. Brennan was being secretly recorded, but clearly the language is inappropriate,” Jackson said. “We will not tolerate inflammatory language in any context.”

Statements from Jackson and Diocese of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin criticized the slurs, while also praising Brennan’s 40-year career at Hendricken, with Jackson saying he was a key force in diversifying the school.

Brennan’s email was pure apology, to students, parents, the region and the legacy of the highly acclaimed Catholic school.

“My heart is broken that I have caused division, controversy and anger,” Brennan said. “For my entire career, I have tried to bring people together and in a few seconds of terrible use of words, I have created hatred and anger.”Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau can be reached at and follow him on Twitter@wbuteau

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