Fr. John D. O’Brien, S.J., 40, grew up in Mission, British Columbia. One of six children, the family attended Holy Canadian Martyrs Parish in Combermere, Ontario, where Fr. O’Brien was profoundly affected by the martyrs’ lives. He went to boarding school in New Hampshire at the Immaculate Conception Apostolic School and then studied at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio before transferring to the University of Ottawa, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in communications in 2000. For one year, Fr. O’Brien worked on the launch of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, a college in Barry’s Bay, Ontario, and served as principal of Wayside Academy in Peterborough, Ontario, from 2001 to 2006. After visiting Martyrs’ Shrine in Midland, Ontario, he began hearing a small voice in his prayer life saying, “Follow me,” which led him to a summer program in Rome at Casa Balthasar, a house of discernment and Christian formation. Next, Fr. O’Brien earned a philosophy degree at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, before entering the Society of Jesus in 2008. As a novice, he taught at an inner-city school and parish in Jamaica and then earned a master’s degree in theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto in 2012. For two years, Fr. O’Brien worked at Corpus Christi College at the University of British Columbia, where he taught film studies, communications and Catholic social teaching. Returning to Regis College, he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 2016 and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 2017. Ordained a deacon in April, he has ministered at the Newman Center at the University of Toronto. Fr. O’Brien serves on the board of directors of the Manresa Jesuit Spiritual Retreat Center in Pickering, Ontario, and the academic council of the Toronto School of Theology. After ordination, he will work as a chaplain at Campion College at the University of Regina in Saskatchewan while serving as a vocation promoter for the Society of Jesus. Fr. O’Brien will celebrate his first Mass at the Newman Center at the University of Toronto and a Mass of Thanksgiving at his home parish of St. Hedwig in Barry’s Bay. (English Canada Province)
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