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     Little did Father John O'Brien realize when he arrived in Lowell in 1848, the impact that he and those that would follow him would have on the mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts.  Father John was a man of vision.  It was the time of massive Irish immigration with each newcomer seeking employment and a new life.  The good pastor understood the balance that was needed for these people who were caught between two worlds, the need to retain their own identity as Irish men and women, and that of identifying themselves as Americans.  It was during his pastorship that the Irish became an active and prominent factor in Lowell's population.

The Fathers O'Brien

     Father John O'Brien was born in Ballina, County, Tipperary, along the River Shannon. He was trained for the priesthood at Maynooth and came to America after his ordination.  He served in Virginia and Newburyport, MA before coming to Lowell.

     His assignment to Lowell was a rather strategic move on the part of Archbishop Fitzpatrick. Lowell had already proven itself a dilemma for the Archbishop.  There had been outbursts of anti-Catholic and anti-Irish demonstrations in the past.  The Irish also fought among themselves within the city which had not helped matters.  A few years previous the Irish population splintered into a second group that founded St. Peter's Church.  To make matters worse the group which remained at St. Patrick's split again over the leadership of the current pastor, Father McDermott.  It seemed Father McDermott had let some personal issues get in the way of his leadership.  Trying to take matters into his own hands he caused the breakup of a school agreement that had been made with the City Council.

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