Obituary: Bishop Thomas Kevin O'Brien

Bishop Kevin O'Brien died on Monday, 27 December. He died peacefully in Leeds General Infirmary where had had been taken a few days earlier suffering from pneumonia and other complications of the lungs. For the past six years Bishop Kevin, who was 81 years old and in the 57th year of his priesthood, had been cared for devotedly by the Little Sisters of the Poor at St Joseph's Nursing Home in Leeds since his retirement in 1998. Thomas Kevin O'Brien was born on 18th February 1923 in Cork, Ireland, the youngest son of Jack and Mary O'Brien. He was educated at the Christian Brothers' College, Cork, before training for the priesthood at All Hallows College, Dublin. On 20th June 1948 he was ordained at All Hallows College for the diocese of Leeds. His first appointment was assistant priest to St. Mary's, Batley, where he served until 1951 when he was appointed to the Cathedral in Leeds. In September 1956 he joined the Catholic Missionary Society and was appointed Superior by the Bishops from 1960 to 1971. During his time as Superior he edited the new course for non-Catholics at the Catholic Enquiry Centre. In 1971 he was appointed parish priest at St. Patrick, Huddersfield, and Vicar General of the diocese of Leeds. In August 1979 he was appointed parish priest of St. Francis, Bradford. On 8th December 1981, he was consecrated Bishop of Ard Carna, and Auxiliary Bishop of Middlesbrough by Bishop Augustine Harris. He became parish priest of St. Charles, Hull, the central Catholic Church in the city. He was Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Home Mission but his major pastoral efforts were in the Diocese and the City of Hull. He led the Diocesan Vocations Team for a period and was involved in the development of the Pastoral Centres at St. Stephen, Hull, and later at the former Endsleigh College. In the early 1980s he established scriptural training courses for the laity, and was a most active supporter of the Hull Pastoral Assembly. He played a leading part in ecumenical activities in the city and the East Riding of Yorkshire, including the 'Churches Together' Group, which continues to be the prime focus for ecumenical co-operation in the area. He was also involved with the young and disadvantaged for which work the University of Hull conferred on him in 1998, the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity. On reaching 75, he tended his resignation as a Bishop to the Holy Father. Despite deteriorating health, he celebrated the golden jubilee of his priestly ordination both at St Charles, and with his brother priests in Middlesbrough Cathedral. In September 1998, he moved to the Little Sisters of the Poor at Headingley, Leeds. Bishop O'Brien enjoyed walking, reading and music. Throughout his life he was a charismatic preacher, a skill he maintained throughout his declining years when increasing disability limited his mobility. There will be the Solemn Reception of his body followed by Mass at St Charles, Hull, on Sunday, 9 January, at 6pm. On the following day there will be Requiem Mass in St Charles at midday, after which his body will be transferred to St Mary's Cathedral, Middlesbrough, where it will be solemnly received, followed by Mass at 7pm that same evening. The following day, Tuesday, 11 January, his Requiem Mass followed by burial in the Cathedral vault will take place at midday. Source: Diocese of Middlesbrough

Share this story