O'Brien, Matthew Anthony
O'BRIEN, MATTHEW ANTHONY
Missionary; b. Nenagh, Ireland, May, 1804; d. Springfield, Ky., Jan. 15, 1871. He was the son of John and Grace (Meagher) O'Brien. In 1826, having received his early education in Ireland, he came to the United States and worked his way to Kentucky. He studied and taught at St. Mary's College, Marion County, Ky., from 1829 until he entered the Dominican Order of St. Rose Priory, near Springfield, Ky. O'Brien made his religious profession on Sept. 8, 1837 and was ordained in the summer of 1839 by Bp. Richard P. Miles, OP, of Nashville, Tenn. He completed his studies while serving as assistant novice master at St. Rose and was then transferred to St. Joseph's parish near Somerset, Ohio. There for eight years he performed missionary and pastoral duties. In 1850 O'Brien was elected provincial of the Dominican province of St. Joseph, which then consisted of only 20 missionary priests in the four states of Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Wisconsin. During his administration as provincial, he opened St. Joseph's College in Somerset, Ohio, and preached parish missions from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico and from St. Louis east beyond the Alleghenies. From 1854 to 1857 O'Brien was prior of St. Rose in Kentucky, where he built the parish church and reopened the old College of St. Thomas, which had flourished from 1807 to 1828. In 1857 he resumed his missionary preaching, interrupting it for only two years when he was pastor of St. Peter's in London, Ontario, Canada.
Bibliography: v. f. o'daniel, An American Apostle: The Very Reverend Matthew Anthony O'Brien, O.P. (Washington 1923)
[j. b. walker]