(1928 – 2016)
December 24, 2016
With sadness on this Christmas Eve, we announce that our brother, Paulist Fr. David W. O’Brien, has passed into eternal life. He died this morning at the Mohun Healthcare Center in Columbus, OH, at the age of 88.
Fr. O’Brien was a well-loved and respected Catholic campus minister, pastor and leader of the Paulist Fathers community.
A native of Hartford, CT, he was the son of Arthur and Mary Driscoll O’Brien. After graduating from St. Bonaventure University, he entered our novitiate in 1950.
Fr. O’Brien was ordained on May 3, 1956, by Cardinal Francis Spellman at the Church of St. Paul The Apostle in New York City. He was one of 17 men ordained that day, the largest class thus far in our community’s history.
His first assignment was as a campus minister at the University of Texas in Austin. In his 12 years there, he directed the construction of the University Catholic Center and served as an advisor to the local bishop during the Second Vatican Council.
After one year as a chaplain at the University of Connecticut, Fr. O’Brien was elected first consultor of the Paulist Fathers in 1970 as our community adopted a new constitution following the Council.
In 1977, he was named pastor and superior of St. Thomas Aquinas University Parish in Boulder, CO, serving the University of Colorado.
He returned to Austin in 1984 as pastor of St. Austin Parish. In 1990, from his post in Texas, he was called to serve as vice president of our community. In that role, he also served as director of the Paulist Center in Boston on an interim basis.
In 1995, at age 67, Fr. O’Brien accepted the invitation to become director of St. Thomas More Newman Center, the Catholic campus ministry at The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH, as well as superior of the Paulist Fathers in that city. In this eight years as director, he spearheaded the renovation and expansion of the center and established the largest chapter of the Paulist Associates.
He entered senior ministry status in 2004 but remained active at the Newman Center, always present at the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass even after he moved to the Mohun Center (thanks to the efforts of many devoted friends and parishioners).
Fr. O’Brien is survived by his brother Paulist Fathers, many nieces and nephews and countless friends.
A wake will be held at St. Thomas More Newman Center in Columbus on Thursday, January 5, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Fr. O’Brien’s funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m., Saturday, January 7, at the Newman Center. Paulist Fr. Eric Andrews, president of our community, will serve as the principal celebrant. Paulist Fr. Vinny McKiernan will preach the homily.
Burial will follow at a date to be announced in the Paulist Fathers section of the St. Thomas the Apostle Church Cemetery in Oak Ridge, NJ.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Paulist Fathers, 415 West 59th Street, New York, NY 10019, or online via paulist.org/give.
While we mourn the loss of Fr. O’Brien, we are comforted in the knowledge that our brother has gone to the Lord on Christmas Eve. He loved to preside and preach at Midnight Mass. This year, we pray that he will celebrate the heavenly liturgy at the altar on high, surrounded by the choirs of angels who greeted the shepherds on that holy night so long ago.