The Importance of Serving with Compassion

Feb 20, 2019

As a political science major, Matthew Brennan ’12 learned many important lessons, among the most valuable of them the need to serve with compassion. After graduating, Brennan carried with him a quote from the Venerable Father Emmanuel d’Alzon: “The secret of our influence is that we love our students, that they feel our love.” Brennan said that this statement guides him in his career as a healthcare professional.

Brennan, a Shrewsbury native, serves as the managing director of Family Lives, a

Westborough-based human services organization that provides disabled individuals with comprehensive home healthcare services, including physical, occupational, and speech/language therapies; augmentative communication; and nursing. After earning a bachelor’s degree from Assumption, Brennan continued his education at the University of Cambridge where he studied law. Ultimately, he returned to the Worcester area to pursue opportunities with Family Lives.

Brennan enjoys a personal connection to Family Lives, which was founded by a group of families and healthcare professionals in 1999; his mother Carolyn serves as chief executive officer and his brother, Michael, was a patron of the organization’s services, receiving continuous nursing care at home.

“It is good to work for an organization that works – like my brother worked – not only for desegregation or integration of some human beings, but for the sanctity of all human life,” Brennan explained. According to the organization’s mission statement, Family Lives is committed to safeguarding the home lives of people and treating each client with respect and dignity.

As managing director, a position he assumed in 2016, Brennan works to “ensure that the nursing and therapy services are provided with respect and care” and to “support, partner with, guide, form, and advocate for the people that make us: our patients, families, nurses, therapists, staff, and supervisors,” he said.

Brennan added that the best part of his work is “being witness to the good lives” of those he serves and with whom he works.

At Assumption, Brennan learned skills that prepared him for life outside of studying and work. “My professors introduced me to differences with which I was unacquainted – the difference between care and control, the difference between goodness and greatness, the difference between providence and prudence – and invited me to choose one or the other,” he said, adding that he also developed a passion for serving thanks to his undergraduate formation at Assumption. “My professors taught me that education is a relationship, a relationship of care in which a teacher cultivates a student so that he or she may choose to live a life of integrity,” he said.

Brennan said that his experience at Family Lives has been eye opening. “We work to assist our patients in achievement of everyday life, life with the things that you and I take for granted: love and friendship, home and neighborhood, work and study,” he reflected. “This we accomplish not only by caring for the health of our patients, but also by enhancing their image and competency. The better our competency and image, the more access we have to good things.”