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Popular Irish priest mourned

Fr James O'Brien

Fr James O’Brien

PASTOR emeritus Fr James Finbarr O’Brien, former parish priest of Kingston-Marsden, has been remembered as “a humble man and true gentleman”.

The Irish-born priest (pictured) died aged 65 on March 24 in Allamanda Hospital, Gold Coast, after a long illness.

Among those remembering the popular priest was Fr Dave Batey, of the adjoining Woodridge parish.

“Jim was sick for at least three years with Parkinson’s (Disease),” he said.

“He used to come back to Kingston Marsden for various events, funerals, weddings and so on, although in the last eight or nine months he hadn’t been able to move much.

“Jim knew everyone after his association with the parish over about 12 years – the people loved him to bits.”

Fr Batey had fond memories of attending Kensington’s St Paul’s National Seminary for late vocations with Fr O’Brien where both started together in 1990.

“Prior to this Jim had been sports master at St Edmund’s College, Ipswich, before becoming principal at St Vincent’s School on the Gold Coast,” he said.

“During my time at the seminary and in later years when we became priests, I found Jim to be a very generous, happy-go-lucky character.

“Once when I was sick with the flu at the seminary he turned up one night around 10 with some medicinal brandy. After a couple of these I slept for about 12 hours and awoke much improved.”

Fr Batey also recalled when they were ordained deacons by Bishop John Gerry at Caloundra in 1994 that Fr O’Brien had a hole in one of his shoes.

Fathers O’Brien and Batey were ordained into the priesthood with another late vocation, Fr Paul Murphy, by Archbishop John Bathersby in St Stephen’s Cathedral on November 17, 1994.

Fr Batey said at one point he and the other two priests were all in the same deanery and in adjoining parishes – Woodridge, Kingston Marsden and Daisy Hill.

“I always recall Jim as a humble man and true gentleman in these years as I got to know him even better,” he said. He had a simple, humble faith too. He’d be on his knees saying prayers before Mary and Jesus.

“Jim was one to give away everything to people in need – I’m sure he died without a cent to his name.”

Fr O’Brien’s Vigil Mass was to be held at St Maximilian Kolbe Church, Kingston Marsden, on March 30 at 5.30pm.

His Requiem Mass will be celebrated on Monday, March 31, in St Stephen’s Cathedral at 10.30am.

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