Tributes to 'deeply spiritual' Barking priest following death from cancer

father john o'brient

Father John O'Brien, parish priest St Thomas More, has died. - Credit: Diocese of Brentwood

Tributes have been paid to a parish priest who has died at the age of 65, following a brief illness.

Father John O’Brien - parish priest of St Thomas More in Longbridge Road, Barking - died in hospital on Thursday, February 18.

He had been priest at the Barking parish since October 2012 and became ill with cancer only three weeks before his death.

Bishop Alan Williams said: “His presence and ministry in the parish and diocese will be greatly missed. May he rest in peace."

Father John was born on September 20, 1955 in Fermoy, Ireland, into a family of three sisters and a brother.

He joined the Pallottine Fathers society in 1972, made his first consecration on September 12, 1975 and was ordained on June 9, 1979.

He went on to serve in Ealing and then Barking as a curate and spent time studying in America.

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He served as parish priest in Hastings and was rector of the Pallottine College in Ireland between 1996 and 2002.

Father Eamonn Monson and Father Tom Daly, close friends from seminary days, were with Father John in his last days in hospital.

Fr John O'Brien on retreat

Father O'Brien often travelled. Pictured here on a retreat in the Sahara Desert. - Credit: Father Eamonn Monson

Father Eamonn described his friend as "a deeply spiritual man with a very strong relationship with God".

"His desire to heal people was very special. He had very specific empathy for people’s suffering and a desire to relieve that suffering," Father Eamonn added.

A very direct man, the truth was very important to him. “He didn’t like any kind of pretence and was impatient with that. He said it how it was and had no fear of other people’s opinions of him," Father Eamonn said.

The pair often travelled together, returning regularly to Dingle in Ireland.

"John loved to travel. He worked very hard as a priest but he knew how to enjoy life and believed in the importance of that," Father Eamonn said.

Fr John O'Brien in the desert

Father O'Brien was fond of travel. Pictured here on a trip in the Sahara Desert. - Credit: Father Eamonn Monson

Fr Liam McClarey said: “Please remember John in your prayer and Masses. We also remember John’s family, close friends and parishioners at this time. 

"May he rest in peace and be rewarded for his many acts of kindness and goodness, seen and unseen, throughout his life."

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