Joachim O'Brien OFM | Melbourne
25 May 1915 – 23 February 2010
The Franciscan Friars in Australia and New Zealand have lost one of their well-known confreres, Father Joachim O’Brien OFM who died in Melbourne on 23 February, aged 94 years. Fr Joachim joined the Franciscan Order in 1940 and was ordained in 1947. His early appointments included training young men for the Franciscan Order (1948-1962), parish priest (1963-1971) and as Director of Catholic Social Services in the Diocese of Auckland (1972-1980).
Fr Paul Smith OFM, Provincial Minister, presided at the funeral Mass and burial service at St Paschal’s College, Box Hill, Melbourne. He was joined by twenty Franciscan friars, other religious and a large congregation of family, friends and Secular Franciscans.
For 48 years from 1962, Fr Joachim was a spiritual adviser to the Secular Franciscan Order, originally known as the Third Order of St Francis. “He was a driving force in the renewal of the Order based on the revised Rule approved by Pope Paul VI in 1979”. He wrote several instruction manuals and inspirational books about the life and ministry of the Order. He continued his spiritual assistance to the Secular Franciscans until three months before he died.
Though very much a product of the pre-Vatican II era, Fr Joachim adapted to changes in the church and spent the majority of his years promoting lay movements in the Church, particularly the Secular Franciscans. “He had an incredible energy for promoting lay movements and worked in collaboration with the laity”.
As well as leading a renewal of the Secular Franciscan Order, Fr Joachim had a strong commitment to Marriage Encounter and to the Legion of Mary. Vatican documents on lay ministry were his regular reading materials from which he drew inspiration. “Not only did he read, quote and preach about the documents, he was instrumental in practical ways of promoting and supporting the vocation of the laity in today’s Church”. Fr Paul said, “The Franciscan Friars and hundreds of Secular Franciscans across Australia and New Zealand will remember Fr Joachim as a herald of the Gospel, a humble and true Franciscan, a loyal servant of the Church he loved and a thorough gentleman”.
Hospital, and finally back to St John of God Hospital where he entered Eternal Life.