- Published: Friday, 30 October 2009 22:40
Joseph O’Brien was born at Kilmachabea, Leap, Ireland in 1929. (Today the parish of Leap is under the administration of the Irish Province of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart.) As a youth he tested his vocation for a time with the Congregation of the Holy Spirit. He then went on to study medicine and surgery at the universities of Cork, Belfast and London. After graduation he served for a short time in the Royal Navy, following in the footsteps of his father. After practicing medicine in London for some years he migrated to Australia and worked in Victoria until entering the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart as a mature age student. After making his first profession on 15th February 1969, Joe commenced his studies for the priesthood at St Paul’s Seminary for Late Vocations at Kensington. His contemporaries remember his quiet unassuming brilliance and his lively interest in theology. He was ordained in Sydney on 25th August 1973 and the following year was appointed to the Archdiocese of Port Moresby, PNG. He was to spend almost ten years as missionary and parish priest at Tokarara, Popondetta and Gerehu and was responsible for establishing a church at Kokoda. Returning to Australia in early 1984 he worked in the parish of Hindmarsh in South Australia before joining the parish relief staff at Kensington Monastery the following year. He carried out this work for a number of years until ill health made it no longer possible. In retirement he continued to live at Kensington until moving to St Joseph’s Nursing Home in 2005. Joe died quietly in the early hours of 4th August 2009. His funeral liturgy was celebrated in the Monastery Chapel at Kensington and he is buried in the community cemetery at Douglas Park.