He became a priest in the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 1989 and was appointed to serve as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese in 2013. He holds a doctorate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.
The Tennessee diocese has been under the care of Louisville Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, whom the pope appointed to serve as apostolic administrator in October following the controversial departure of Bishop Martin D. Holley for what then-Vatican spokesman Greg Burke termed "mismanagement of the diocese."
The Memphis diocese was the subject of a Vatican investigation - called an apostolic visitation - in June 2018. The visitation was prompted by criticism of Holley's 2017 decision to reassign up to two-thirds of the 60 active priests in the diocese, and his appointment of a Canadian priest, Fr. Clement Machado, as vicar general, moderator of the curia, and chancellor of the Diocese of Memphis.
Holley afterward denied he had mismanaged the diocese, and suggested Cardinal Donald Wuerl had played a part in engineering his removal. Holley had previously served as auxiliary bishop to Wuerl in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC.
The March 5 Vatican announcement also named Bishop Joseph Brennan, 64, as the new head of the Diocese of Fresno.
Brennan will replace Bishop Armando Xavier Ochoa, who submitted his resignation last April as he turned 75, the ordinary age of retirement for a bishop.