Former Van Nester elevated to Cardinal

A former resident of Van Nest, who grew up in the community and is a graduate of Our Lady of Solace School, has been elevated to the position of Cardinal in the Roman Catholic church.

Cardinal designate Edwin O’Brien, former auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York and Archbishop of Baltimore, and currently serving as pro-grand master of the Vatican’s mission of spiritual and charitable works in the Holy Land, should be officially elevated to the position of Cardinal by the Vatican in February. From 1997 to 2007, O’Brien was Archbishop for the Military Services.

O’Brien has returned to his childhood parish, where he graduated from the parish school in 1953, every year since 1997 to perform the sacrament of Confirmation, said Our Lady of Solace-St. Dominic’s pastor Father Robert Badillo.

O’Brien drew on his role as a priest serving the military and made military discipline part of the Confirmation ceremony in previous years at Our Lady of Solace-St. Dominic, Badillo said.

“When he came to do the Confirmation, he would have the Conformandi stand while others sit for the homily, and look at them for a minute,” Badillo stated. “He would then ask them why they are standing and go on to tell them that you are not just standing for something, but for someone, and that someone is of course Christ.”

O’Brien should be back at the church to perform the Confirmation ceremony again in 2013, as his elevation as Cardinal will require him to be at the Vatican this year, Badillo stated. The Cardinal designate has made a special point of returning to Our Lady of Solace-St. Dominic to perform the rite, Badillo stated.

“When he became auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York in 1997, he came back to our parish to perform Confirmation,” Badillo stated. “Then when he became Archbishop of the Military Diocese, even though he would travel all over the world, he would come back to perform conformation. And as Archbishop of Baltimore, he would still find his way back to Our Lady of Solace parish to do Confirmation for the children every year.”

O’Brien made a special point to meet with Badillo at St. Joseph Seminary when he came to present his credentials for ordination after performing his obligatory work in Washington D.C., Badillo stated.

“He was then Monsignor Edwin O’Brien, and he ran the seminary,” Badillo stated. “He made the effort to show up to greet me, and it just spoke to me of his great warmth and affability. He is a gentleman priest, as they are called, and very forthright.”

Upon hearing of O’Brien’s elevation, Our Lady of Solace graduate and Van Nest Neighborhood Association counsel Robert Nolan said he was very proud that another person who grew up in the community had made good.

“Cardinal designate Edwin O’Brien grew up in Van Nest and graduated from Our Lady of Solace school in the early 1950s,” Nolan stated. “We are so proud of him.”

The elevation of Cardinal-designate O’Brien should be a cause for all clergy, religious and lay people to rejoice, said New York Archbishop Emeritus Edward Cardinal Egan.

“In his rectorships both in New York and in Vatican City, I had the pleasure of working with Cardinal designate O’Brien and admiring his commitment to the church and his wisdom in guiding young men in their preparation for the priesthood,” Egan stated.

Patrick Rocchio can be reach via e-mail at or by phone at (718) 742-3393

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