Longtime priest at St. Theresa's and Holy Trinity parish
Father Dennis O'Brien. (Courtesy photo)
Reverend Dennis J. O’Brien, 70, a priest of the Diocese of Worcester for 44 years, died on Saturday, July 17, 2021. Father Dennis is survived by his brother, John F. “OB” O’Brien and Bethany Pomfret of Whitinsville, his uncle, John J. O’Brien of Whitinsville and aunt, Mary Jane O’Brien of Whitinsville, several cousins, friends, brother priests, classmates, and loving parishioners. He was predeceased by his parents, an infant brother Dennis O’Brien in 1950, and cousin William D. "Danny" Maher III.
Born in Whitinsville on June 17, 1951, he was the son of William F. and Rita M. (Ducharme) O’Brien and was raised in Whitinsville. Father Dennis attended St. Patrick’s School in Whitinsville and was a graduate of St. Mary’s Central Catholic High School in Milford. He studied for the priesthood at St. Thomas Seminary in Bloomfield, CT, St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, and the North American College in Rome. While in Rome, Father studied at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, where he received his bachelor’s degree in Sacred Theology in 1976. He completed his deacon internship at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, West Boylston, and was ordained by Bishop Bernard J. Flanagan on June 18, 1977, in St. Paul Cathedral in Worcester.
Following ordination, Fr. Dennis was assigned for the summer to Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish in Hopedale before returning to Rome for graduate studies at the Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical Gregorian University. He received his Licentiate in Sacred Theology in 1978 and returned to Sacred Heart Parish as associate pastor. In 1981 he was assigned to the faculty of St. Bernard’s Central Catholic High School, Fitchburg. In 1983 he was named to the faculty of Holy Name Central Catholic High School, Worcester. He received his master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from Boston College in 1985 and was appointed headmaster of Holy Name on July 11, 1986. In 1993 he entered the novitiate of the Cistercians of the Strict Observance at St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer. He spent more than four years with the Trappist community over a period of seven years.
In 1996, Father O’Brien was appointed the first director of the Father James Fitton House for Priestly Formation in Leicester and taught in the diocesan Permanent Diaconate Program. He has served as associate pastor of St. Leo’s Parish, Leominster, St. Mary’s Parish, Shrewsbury, and Saint Joseph’s Parish, Fitchburg. In 2005 he was named pastor of St. Theresa the Little Flower Parish in Harvard and later was appointed pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Bolton as well. After the two parishes were merged in December 2008, he became the first pastor of the newly formed Holy Trinity Parish. He was named pastor of Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Leominster on June 30, 2012. He retired as pastor in 2017. He has been in residence at St. Mary Church in Uxbridge since 2017. Father O’Brien was the Dean of Deanery X, which included Leominster, Fitchburg and Lunenburg, and was chairman of the Diocesan Presbyteral Council. He has been an Associate of the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary since 1984. For the last three years Father O’Brien has served as Minister to Priests for the Diocese of Worcester.
A concelebrated Funeral Mass will take place in St. Mary’s Parish, 77 Mendon St., Uxbridge on Friday, July 23, 2021, at 11 a.m., with the Most Rev. Robert. J. McManus as Principal Celebrant. Burial will follow in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Whitinsville. There are no calling hours. Instead, a Prayer Vigil will be celebrated on Thursday, July 22, 2021, at 7 p.m. in St. Mary Church, Uxbridge. In Lieu of flowers, donations in memory of Fr. Dennis may be made to: Priest Retirement Fund of the Diocese of Worcester, 49 Elm Street, Worcester, MA 01609. To leave a condolence message for his family please visit: http://www.Jackmanfuneralhomes.com.
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