By Susan Gately - 07 December, 2018
In what is perhaps a first for Ireland, 9 years after the death of a priest over 100 people came together to share their stories about him with a view to starting a possible beatification process.
Fr Colm O’Brien, originally from Waterford, was just 36 when he died of cancer in 2009. Ordained in June 2000, he worked as a curate for most of his priestly life in SS Peter and Paul, Clonmel, before being transferred to Tramore.
The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Alphonsus Cullinan, invited people to come to a meeting to explore whether Fr Colm’s life was marked by the ‘heroic virtue’ that would justify the Church calling him ‘Servant of God’.
This is the first stage of a Vatican investigation that can lead to someone being beatified or canonised. The Bishop said that many people had been impressed by the character and holiness of Fr O’Brien: “The question of promoting his cause for beatification and canonisation has arisen”.
He told the Irish Independent: “He was a person who touched a lot of peoples’ lives. He would arrive late to almost everything because he would stop to talk to everybody from the car to the house. He had an extraordinary humility, simplicity and joy about him and a sense of humour.”
Bishop Cullinan was struck by the number of people who came to the meeting during Storm Diana, on 28 November, nine years after Fr Colm’s death, and said that he had asked for Fr Colm’s intercession himself.
Two priests who knew Fr Colm through a fraternity for priests of the Focolare were at the meeting in the Hotel Minella, Clonmel. Sitting at one of the tables of around ten people, they heard moving testimonies concerning the life of Fr Colm.
“It was inspiring to see just how much one priest who does his best to live his mission 100 per cent can help so many others along their own road to holiness,” Fr Colin Rothery told CatholicIreland.net. “For the priests present this meeting was a wonderful reminder of how by doing little things with great love for people we meet each day we can live out our own calling with joy.”
Arising from the gathering in Clonmel, Bishop Cullinan and a small team will now gather information on the priest’s life, including the testimonies of those who knew him. The Bishop of Waterford and Lismore is appealing to people who knew Fr Colm O’Brien to send their accounts to [email protected], marking the subject line ‘Fr Colm O’Brien’.
These accounts will be put together in a small book (Libellum) and submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which will decide whether or not the cause can go ahead.