Published July 22, 2010
A longtime presence at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, Deacon Michael J. O’Brien died July 15. He was 77.
Ordained in 1986, Deacon O’Brien served the parish community in many aspects of church life, from baptisms and weddings to adult enrichment programs. He worked as a volunteer for over eight years at the archdiocesan Tribunal.
Deacon O’Brien was remembered for his story-telling, big grin and his faith.
“He’s the most joyful person I’ve ever met,” said Anne Stephens, youth minister at OLA. “One of the finest human beings you’re going to meet.”
He made a point to visit parish staff and talk to them about their interests, Stephens said, adding he was “very passionate about teaching and sharing.”
Friends and parishioners wrote their own memories of the deacon on the funeral home’s online memorial page.
“Mike will always be remembered as a great example of living our Catholic faith. We learned a lot from listening to him. We also picked up lots of Brooklyn Dodger trivia! It was a pleasure to chat with him and we recall many delightful times of sharing,” wrote Ray and Kathy Gansereit of Atlanta.
“We are so sad to hear about Mike. He had the most wonderful big smile and such a jovial personality. He touched so many people in his service as a deacon and in his personal friendships,” wrote Becky and Bob Fratesi of Atlanta.
A native of Brooklyn, N.Y., Deacon O’Brien graduated from St. John’s University in 1954 and served in the Navy for the next two years. After leaving the service, he earned a master’s in business administration from New York University and joined the business world, working at Dun and Bradstreet, Western Electric, Ingersoll-Rand and the American Stock Exchange. In January 1972, he accepted a position of vice president at Life Office Management Association, which later brought him to Atlanta. He retired from the firm as a senior vice president in 1995.
Ten years after his ordination, he returned to school. He earned a master’s degree in theological studies with a major in religious education from Loyola University of New Orleans.
In 2008, Deacon O’Brien and his wife, Rita, celebrated their golden wedding anniversary. They have six children and 12 grandchildren.
He is survived by his wife; by his brother, Father James O’Brien; and by his children: Carole O’Brien; John O’Brien and his wife, Suzanne; Mary Beyer and her husband, Matt; Jim O’Brien and his wife, Gina; Claire Farrell and her husband, Tom; and Daniel O’Brien. He is also survived by his grandchildren, Kevin, Kayla, Michael, Jake, Eve, Aidan, Robert, William, Katie, Grace, Jack and Tess.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated on Saturday, July 24, at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, 1350 Hearst Drive, NE, Atlanta.
The family will greet friends starting at 10 a.m. at the church. A reception will be held in Moylan Hall after the service. A private interment will be held at Arlington Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions be made to the St. Vincent de Paul Society at Our Lady of the Assumption Church.