Father Lambert Greenan was born Laurence Greenan on January 11, 1917, in that part of Newry that is in County Armagh. He was educated first by the Mercy Sisters. One day, when he was seven years old, his family attended the first Mass of Fr. Norbert Barry, OP. As they left the church, he said to his father, “Someday I will be a Dominican priest, and I will say my first Mass at that altar, and I will be wearing those same vestments.” And that is precisely what happened.
He was then educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. On receiving his senior leaving certificate, he entered the Dominican order some months later on September 30, 1933. On October 14, 1933, he was clothed in the Dominican habit and given the name Brother Lambert. At the end of the novitiate year, he made his first profession on October 15, 1934. On January 12, 1938, he made his solemn profession. He was ordained a priest on September 29, 1940, at the age of 23 after having received a dispensation from Rome from the required age of 24.
He did his philosophical and theological studies at the Dominican House of Studies in Tallaght, Ireland, obtaining his Lectorate in Theology on June 21, 1943. This is the examination which qualifies a Dominican to teach within the Order. He then taught for three years until 1946 when he was sent to Rome to study Canon Law at the Angelicum University. He received his Licentiate in Canon Law in 1948 and began doctoral studies, but was recalled to Ireland at the end of 1949 to teach Canon Law and various other subjects. He taught for ten years until 1960 when he was made head of the retreat house in Tallaght for two years. In 1962, he was appointed superior of St. Malachy’s Dominican convent in Dundalk where he remained as superior until the beginning of 1968.
In January 1968, the Apostolic Nuncio in Dublin came to visit him and told him that his name was among four given to him as candidates for the founding and editorship of the English language edition of the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano. He was eventually chosen for the position, and he went to work at the Vatican on February 12, 1968.
On July 29, 1968, he was present at the press conference for the presentation of Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Because of the widespread rejection of the Pope’s teaching, he defended it by publishing articles every week for several months that upheld the Church’s traditional teaching. He remained with L’Osservatore Romano until he was three years over the age limit, and he retired on January 15, 1990 at the age of 73.
After that, he was a confessor at St. Mary Major basilica during the summer months of 1991 and 1992. It was then that he met some of the nuns of Mother Angelica’s community and also some of the Sister Servants. Eventually Mother Angelica invited him to come to Birmingham to present the English edition of the new Catechism of the Catholic Church on EWTN in 1993. When he arrived at Mother Angelica’s monastery, he had found that the English edition of the Catechism had been recalled due to inclusive language. During the month of April that year, he appeared each week on EWTN with Mother Angelica to discuss a subject of her choice.
On July 8, 1997, Mother Mary Gabriel invited him to come to Casa Maria for a year at the age of 80 to help the Sister Servants in the editing of their Constitutions. In 1998, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Since there was an excellent cancer center in Birmingham, his superiors allowed him to stay indefinitely after receiving successful treatment.
During his time in Birmingham, Bishop Foley invited him to submit his suggestions for the revision of the Ordo Missae for the new English translation of the Roman Missal. He fought hard and succeeded in having the words “chalice” instead of “cup” and also “for many” instead of “for all” inserted in the words of Consecration. In the translation of the Nicene Creed, he succeeded in retaining “for us men,” which had been inserted by the Council of Nicea in condemnation of the heresy of Origin who taught that Christ’s sacrifice was effective not merely for mankind but also for the fallen angels in Hell.
Fr. Lambert resided at Casa Maria with the Sister Servants for 21 years, celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, and offering spiritual direction to those on the retreats and in the Birmingham community.
Father Lambert was predeceased by his parents, Thomas Joseph and Agnes Greenan, as well as his four brothers, Fr. Clement (Tommy), Kevin, Seamus, and Joe. He is survived by his sister-in-law, Jean Greenan, and many nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, please have a Mass offered for the repose of the soul of Fr. Lambert.