Date of death: 10/5/2008
Saint Meinrad Class: O 1954
Father James Christopher “Chris” O’Brien PhD, a retired priest of the Diocese of Evansville, died at age 80.Father O’Brien was a native of Loogootee, IN. He had served parishes in southwestern Indiana in the 1950s and 1960s before leaving the area to pursue an academic career in the Washington, D.C., area. He returned to Evansville earlier this year.Survivors include one sister, Katherine Shafranske of San Diego, CA, cousins, nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews.He was preceded in death by his parents, Christopher and Mary (Dooley) O’Brien of Loogootee; one brother, Judge John Michael O’Brien of Loogootee, and sisters, Mary Elizabeth Sharum of Louisville and Helen Lawless of Indianapolis.Father O’Brien was born in Loogootee, August 28, 1928. After studies at Saint Meinrad Seminary and at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, he was ordained a priest at his home parish of St. John Church in Loogootee, August 15, 1954. In his early ministry, Father O’Brien served as assistant pastor of the Evansville parishes of St. Boniface, St. Joseph, St. Anthony and St. Mary, and also of St. Francis Xavier in Vincennes, IN. He served briefly as pastor pro tem of St. Martin Church in Whitfield, IN. He was pastor of St. Patrick Church in Corning from 1962 to 1965. Father O’Brien earned a master’s degree in sociology at Indiana State University at Terre Haute in 1969, and began pursuit of his doctorate at The Catholic University of America that same year. His Ph.D. in Medical Sociology was awarded in 1979. He began teaching at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, VA, in 1972, rising to full professorship in 1982. He was officially retired from priestly ministry in 1998. He retired from teaching in 2002. On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of his ordination, celebrated in 2004, Father O’Brien noted that he had taught over 17,000 students in college. Father O’Brien was a member of the Alpha Kappa Delta National Sociological Honor Society, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus in the Father Ralph Doyle Assembly at Loogootee, and a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.Information obtained from the Evansville Courier & Press online, www.courierpress.com.