Keeping up with Archbishop O’Brien

A friend made me realize today that I never mentioned a significant story with local ties: the reassignment in late summer of Archbishop Edwin O’Brien from Baltimore to a Vatican post.

As I’ve written many times in the past, O’Brien grew up in Bedford and graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Katonah, which evolved into Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers (that’s him at Kennedy in 2003). He is a priest of the Archdiocese of New York who did two stints as rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.

O’Brien served as a civilian chaplain at West Point and then an Army chaplain in Vietnam, and later served as secretary to Cardinals Terence Cooke and John O’Connor. In 1996, he became an auxiliary bishop of New York.

For years, he was considered a leading contender to become archbishop of New York. Instead, in 2007, he got the top job in Baltimore, where, it’s safe to say, he was expected to remain for more than a few years.

But at some point in 2012, he will leave for Rome. He has been named the Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is an ancient Catholic order that seeks to promote and defend Christianity in the Holy Land.

Whispers in the Loggia’s Rocco Palmo, who broke the story two days before the official announcement, had this to say about O’Brien’s new gig:

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A notably energetic figure — he’s exhorted his priests on the importance of personal fitness — word from Rome emphatically adds that, despite the age of the millennium-old order’s new chief, “this is not a ‘retirement’ appointment.” O’Brien’s enjoyment of travel, efficient management-style and savvy at navigating difficult geopolitical situations (a skill honed during his decade leading the archdiocese for the Military Services) are all expected to be employed to their fullest extent, both for the effectiveness of the order’s work in the Holy Land, and to keep connected with the group’s membership spread across the globe.

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O’Brien will leave Baltimore once his successor is named.