- Published: Tuesday, 19 October 2010 11:18
Santa Teresa where John worked for six years
A TRIBUTE TO JOHN O'BRYAN
Jim Littleton MSC
John O’Bryan (later known as Tex) was born at Halston in Gippsland on July 22, 1927. He came to Douglas Park in 1946, where he repeated the equivalent of Year 12 studies. He said that he chose the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, after investigating other religious congregations, because of the MSC emphasis on the love of God. John took his first vows on February 26, 1948 and was ordained as an MSC priest in Melbourne in July 1954. As a seminarian he had a deep interest in missionary work. Hence it came as no surprise that after teaching at Chevalier College in 1955, he was appointed to Santa Teresa Mission in the Northern Territory in 1956.
John worked as pastor of Santa Teresa for seven years (1956 to 1962). He did much to develop the cattle industry there as well as endeavouring to provide better wages for the indigenous workers. He worked in the Missions Office in Darwin for seven years (1963 – 1965; 1968 – 1969; 1991 – 1992). He spent two years as Pastor of the Port Keats community (1966 – 1967) and one year as a teacher at St John’s College in Darwin (1970). During these years in the Northern Territory he was an indefatigable worker, a competent administrator, and one who was very committed to the welfare of indigenous people.
In 1973 John was transferred to Monivae College, Hamilton Victoria and worked there as a teacher until the end of 1986. During these years he was in charge of the boarders, for whom he set clear and high standards of behaviour, and was known to be fair and just in his relations with the students. He contracted lung cancer in 1983 and was nursed back to good health by Julie Weber, a member of staff. He took an appointment to Hagita College in Milne Bay in 1987, but after making a retreat in September decided to leave the MSC. He married Julie Weber on December 9, 1987.
They lived initially at Bagara, Qld for eight years and then with outback committees in the Northern Territory where Julie was a teacher and John was a tutor while acting as house parent to their three daughters, Brigid, Kaitlyn and Claire Maree. They also became legal guardians for a Samoan girl and an indigenous girl.
The family moved to Darwin at the end of 2003, where John assisted Julie as a tutor for traumatised children and also supervised evening study at St John’s College. Cancer recurred in 2007 and John died from this on September 26, 2010 aged 83 years.
John possessed boundless energy all his life and remained very active until his last months. He is remembered affectionately by many Missionaries of the Sacred heart, and remained very much MSC at heart all of his life. May he rest in peace.