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Rev John Anthony O'Brien

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Rev John Anthony O'Brien

Birth
Death
18 Apr 1980 (aged 87)
Burial
Notre Dame, St. Joseph County, Indiana, USA
Memorial ID
113521028 View Source

Rev. John A. O'Brien, was one of America's most influential priest-writers. Born on January 20, 1893, in Peoria, Illinois, he was ordained in 1916 by Bishop Edmund M. Dunne as a priest of the Diocese of Peoria. He served as chaplain for the Catholic students at the University of Illinois and earned a Ph.D in psychology there. He taught the first accredited courses in religion at a public university. His early lectures were published in pamphlets and distributed in Catholic churches. He remained at the University of Illinois for twenty-two years. In 1939 he spent a year at Oxford University in England. For the rest of his life he taught and wrote at the University of Notre Dame.
He was the author of 45 books including a classic in the field of theological study, apologetics, entitled "The Faith of Millions". The book was first published in 1938 and went through 27 editions in 10 languages. He also wrote articles that often appeared in mass publications such as "Reader's Digest," bringing the ideas of theologians to a popular readership.
In the 1940s, Father O'Brien gained a reputation as a 'convert maker', setting up convert programs in 50 American Catholic dioceses and spending summers street preaching in towns in the South. Notre Dame President Theodore M. Hesburgh noted that "perhaps no priest in the history of the Church in America was responsible for more Catholic converts."
A lifelong progressive in church matters, Father O'Brien vigorously supported the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. He also was active in the ecumenical movement particularly in spearheading the rapprochement of the Masons and the Knights of Columbus on a national level.
In 1973, Father O'Brien was the first cleric to receive Notre Dame's Laetare Medal, a degree Notre Dame bestows on American Catholics for notable public contributions.
After a long illness, Father O'Brien died April 18, 1980, in St. Joseph's Hospital, South Bend, Indiana. He was 87. Services were held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at the University of Notre Dame, and burial was in the Holy Cross Community Cemetery on the campus.

—This biography is a combination of the obituary for Rev. O'Brien published in The South Bend Tribune, Sat., April 19. 1980, and the background information provided for the collection of the "John A. O'Brien Papers" in the University of Notre Dame Archives.

Rev. John A. O'Brien, was one of America's most influential priest-writers. Born on January 20, 1893, in Peoria, Illinois, he was ordained in 1916 by Bishop Edmund M. Dunne as a priest of the Diocese of Peoria. He served as chaplain for the Catholic students at the University of Illinois and earned a Ph.D in psychology there. He taught the first accredited courses in religion at a public university. His early lectures were published in pamphlets and distributed in Catholic churches. He remained at the University of Illinois for twenty-two years. In 1939 he spent a year at Oxford University in England. For the rest of his life he taught and wrote at the University of Notre Dame.
He was the author of 45 books including a classic in the field of theological study, apologetics, entitled "The Faith of Millions". The book was first published in 1938 and went through 27 editions in 10 languages. He also wrote articles that often appeared in mass publications such as "Reader's Digest," bringing the ideas of theologians to a popular readership.
In the 1940s, Father O'Brien gained a reputation as a 'convert maker', setting up convert programs in 50 American Catholic dioceses and spending summers street preaching in towns in the South. Notre Dame President Theodore M. Hesburgh noted that "perhaps no priest in the history of the Church in America was responsible for more Catholic converts."
A lifelong progressive in church matters, Father O'Brien vigorously supported the changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council. He also was active in the ecumenical movement particularly in spearheading the rapprochement of the Masons and the Knights of Columbus on a national level.
In 1973, Father O'Brien was the first cleric to receive Notre Dame's Laetare Medal, a degree Notre Dame bestows on American Catholics for notable public contributions.
After a long illness, Father O'Brien died April 18, 1980, in St. Joseph's Hospital, South Bend, Indiana. He was 87. Services were held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church at the University of Notre Dame, and burial was in the Holy Cross Community Cemetery on the campus.

—This biography is a combination of the obituary for Rev. O'Brien published in The South Bend Tribune, Sat., April 19. 1980, and the background information provided for the collection of the "John A. O'Brien Papers" in the University of Notre Dame Archives.

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