Medjugorje, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Tuesday 3rd September 2019
Sabrina: Father John, could you please present yourself? Who you are and everything linked to your priesthood, your story?
Fr. John: My name is Father John O’Brien, and my middle name is Terence. I am a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles who loves to pray, teach, read, write, film, surf, skateboard, hike, play team sports (baseball, football, and volleyball are favorites), garden, sing, act, and dance, among many other passions I pursue, thanks be to God who encourages me.
I was born in Los Angeles, California on July 16, 1966 of my beloved parents, Joan and the late Terence O’Brien, who died on June 24, 2013. I was baptized on August 7, 1966 and was raised in a good, and very loving Catholic family by my dear parents. We went to Mass every Sunday with my five other siblings and prayed together as a family. My parents have always been a great inspiration to me and my brothers and sisters. I have a huge devotion to St. Francis of Assisi, and my confirmation name is Francis, which I chose when I was twelve years old because of my devotion to him. I was confirmed on February 13, 1979, ordained as a deacon on August 12, 2017, and ordained as a priest on June 2, 2018.
I attended Cathedral Chapel Catholic School, an elementary grammar school in Los Angeles, for eight years, and had a wonderful experience. During those years I started altar serving, and it was through those experiences as a young altar server that my vocation to the priesthood began, because when I reflect on those times, when for years I assisted the priest and served the people during Mass, I felt very comfortable and a peace in the sanctuary in a cassock and surplus near the altar. I liked helping set up for Mass, lighting candles, processing in the with priest and other servers, being so close to Our Loving Lord Jesus, the Eucharist, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and assisting with tasks in the sanctuary after Mass.
After elementary school I went to Loyola High School of Los Angeles, a great Jesuit school that was founded in 1865. My family has lived in Los Angeles since 1912, and both of my grandfathers, my father, my brothers, an uncle, and three nephews also have graduated from Loyola High School. As my love for Jesus and the Mass continued during my high school years, I was open to the possibility of God calling me to either be a priest or to be married in the Church someday. So, I was open to God’s will, but such serious vocational decisions seemed far away from me at the time.
After Loyola High School I matriculated at the University of California at Berkeley, where I majored in English Literature and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1988. I also studied acting at Berkeley and performed in Shakespearean theater at the university through scene study performances and one staged production; in January 1988, I auditioned and was cast in a role for a production of Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure that was performed in a theater on campus for two weekends. When I was auditioning for Measure for Measure, the casting directors knew nothing of my spiritual life or that I was Catholic because Berkeley is a public university, and I did not know them. Guess what part they gave me? I was cast as Friar Thomas, a priest in a monastery. That’s not the first time I’ve played religious role; the first time I was ever in a