Father Conon O’Brien, C.P., St. Paul of the Cross Province (1896-1964)

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Born William L. O’Brien on January 2, 1896 in Newton, Massachusetts, he was the son of William O’Brien and Mary Killeen. He went to Our Lady, Help of Christians elementary and high school in Newton. In 1915 he entered the Passionist Preparatory School at St. Joseph’s Monastery, Baltimore. In 1916 he went to the novitiate in Pittsburgh and was professed on October 7, 1917. On June 14, 1924 he was ordained at the monastery church in West Hoboken by Bishop Paul J. Nussbaum, C.P. of Marquette, Michigan. After a year of sacred eloquence he began his public ministry which included assignments as a parish priest in Union City and Baltimore. He was director of students and professor at Holy Cross Seminary, Dunkirk, New York. From 1943 until 1946 he was a military chaplain in the United States Army where he served in the European and African theaters. He was again called to active duty from 1952 until 1953. Among his distinctions are the American Campaign Medal, European and African Eastern Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. At the end of his term of service he held the rank of Major and had been recommended to be a Lieutenant Colonel. Known to be quiet and unassuming he was considered to be a good man in his Passionist community and was very close to his family. Transferred to Union City he was involved in the ministry with Sisters, novena devotions, and people who came to seek advice at the front door of the monastery. Father O’Brien had not been feeling well and encountered a great deal of pain. On January 13 he was brought to St. Mary’s Hospital, Hoboken and lapsed into a coma on January 14. That day he died from peritonitis due to a ruptured diverticulum.

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