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Chard priest Canon James O'Brien dies aged 93
9:14am Wednesday 26th September 2012 in News
TRIBUTES have been paid to much loved Chard priest Canon James Fanahan O’Brien, who died on Friday at the age of 93.
Canon James had served Chard for a remarkable 44 years and only officially retired in 2010.
John Gudge, well-known in Chard for his work with the Royal British Legion, said: “The whole town loved him. He will be missed by everybody who knew him.
“He dedicated his life to God and now he has gone to meet him. May he rest in peace.”
The funeral service will take place at 11.30am on Thursday, October 4, at the Church of the English Martyrs in East Street, Chard, where Canon James presided over countless services for so many years.
It is expected that there will be standing room only for people wishing to say a final farewell to the popular priest.
People are invited to make donations to St Margaret’s Hospice and the Priest Retirement Fund.
A concert was held two years ago at the church to mark Canon James’ retirement where he and his housekeeper, Sheila Theobald, had chalked up a combined 72 years’ service between them.
His parish also covered St Joseph’s in Ilmin-ster and St Peter’s in Crewkerne, and he served around 700 Roman Catholics.
He was ordained as a priest in 1944 at St Peter’s College in Wexford in his native Ireland.
His first appointment was in Bath as a curate before securing a similar position in Minehead in 1949. In 1953 he moved to Bristol, where he served as a senior curate.
He later moved to Melksham as parish priest before returning to Henbury, Bristol, in 1962 and finally arriving in Chard in 1968.
Canon James loved sport, including football, golf, snooker, tennis, badminton and squash, and naturally, considering his Irish roots, hurling and horses were among his passions.
His parish when he was in Bristol included Bristol City FC’s Ashton Gate ground, and a footballer gave him a season ticket . . . to ensure that he stayed a devoted follower of the Robins.
He joked with the News in 2009 on his 90th birthday that despite knowing a number of Yeo-vil Town fans they had failed to convert his football allegiance.