Monsignor John Joseph O’Brien was born in Calgary in 1917. His early schooling was in Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s Boys Schools in Calgary. He was ordained on April 10, 1943 at St. Mary’s Cathedral, Calgary, by Bishop Carroll.
Monsignor O’Brien was, above all, a “people” person. He was out-going, generous to the needy, and very supportive to the priests working under his direction. He was a man of action, and has a long and varied list of accomplishments.
Monsignor O’Brien was noted as a talented fund-raiser and builder. He was commissioned to oversee the construction of the present St. Mary’s Cathedral. He was the first pastor of St. Gerard’s Parish, Calgary, and built its Parish Church. He served for several years with the United Fund of Calgary. He was one of the founders of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Calgary, and served on many other Boards.
It was during his first Pastorate that Father O’Brien became involved with immigrants. In 1951, he was appointed Diocesan Director of Immigration. In 1955, while engaged in directing the erection of the new St. Mary’s Cathedral, he found time to establish an Immigration Bureau in Calgary. In 1958, he was made a Director of Catholic Immigration Services, Montreal.
Monsignor O’Brien died in Calgary on July 20, 1990 at the age of 73.