Fr. Dennis J. O'Brien Academic Wing
The Father Dennis J. O'Brien Academic Wing
at The G.R.A.C.E. Center
at Our Lady of the Valley Regional School
Father Dennis J. O'Brien's Legacy
Upon the passing of Father Dennis J. O'Brien, friends and former parishioners sought to memorialize him in a very special way. Understanding Father Dennis to be an ardent supporter of Catholic education and Our Lady of the Valley Regional School, an idea was put forth to raise enough money to secure the naming rights of the academic wing of The G.R.A.C.E. Center for Father Dennis. To reflect Father O'Brien's love of and commitment to the religious orders that helped form his faith and empower his ministry, a plan was also established to recognize the Sisters of the Presentation, the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Sisters of St. Anne in this academic wing, further promoting and honoring their good works. This concept was approved by The G.R.A.C.E. Center Building Committee.
At the time of Father Dennis J. O'Brien's passing, he served in residence at St. Mary Parish adjoining Our Lady of the Valley Regional School. At both the parish and the school, he maintained his trademark presence, reflecting the light of Christ and beloved by all.
Fr. O'Brien was greatly affected by Grace's story and the depth of her faith. He would often visit her grave site to pray for strength and intercession whenever faced with a difficult challenge. Like so many, he found courage and conviction through the story of Grace. And he would attribute much of Grace's personification of Christian spirit to her Catholic school experience, especially her time at Our Lady of the Valley Regional School.
Father O'Brien was a devoted advocate for Catholic education. As Headmaster of Holy Name Central Catholic High School in Worcester, he worked with the Sisters of St. Anne to deliver an outstanding Catholic school experience rooted in the faith to hundreds of students with whom he maintained contact and encountered years later at reunions, weddings, baptisms and times of loss. He himself was formed in the faith by the Sisters of the Presentation at St. Patrick's School in Whitinsville and by the Sisters of St. Joseph at St. Mary's High School.
In his eulogy for Father O'Brien, Monsignor Rose stated, "He was a witness and a messenger, a prophet and evangelizer, proclaiming the word of God everywhere he went - yes, with words, but even more so with loving actions. Fr. Dennis has truly revealed the face of Christ to us as he embodied the true joy of the Gospel." Parishioners from Sacred Heart in Hopedale; St. Leo's and Our Lady of the Lake in Leominster; St. Mary's in Shrewsbury; St. Joseph's in Fitchburg; St.Theresa's, St. Joseph's and Holy Trinity in Harvard/Bolton and throughout the Blackstone Valley have all been touched and impacted by Father O'Brien's commitment not only to preach upon the Gospel but also to live out the Gospel.