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Biographical notes

[Updated: 10.07.2012]


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O’BRIEN Card. Edwin Frederick


Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien, Grand Master  of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, was born on  8 April 1939 in the Bronx, New York, USA.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Master of Divinity and Master of Arts from St Joseph’s Seminary, Yonkers.

He was ordained a priest on 29 May 1965. His first assignment was as civilian chaplain at the United States Military Academy at West Point until 1970, when he became an army chaplain with the rank of captain. He learned to fly and to parachute. He was later chaplain at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and in Vietnam.

In 1973 he left the military to study for a doctorate in moral theology at the Angelicum University as a graduate student of the Pontifical North American College in Rome. On his return to New York, he served as vice-chancellor for the Archdiocese and associate pastor at St Patrick’s Cathedral. In 1979 he coordinated the visit of Pope John Paul II to New York, and then served for two years as the archdiocesan communications director.

He served as rector of the major seminary St Joseph’s for two mandates (1985-1989 and 1994-1997) and as rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome (1990-1994).

He received episcopal ordination on 25 March 1996, subsequent to his appointment as titular Bishop of Thizica and Auxiliary of New York on 6 February 1996.

On 8 April 1997 he was named Coadjutor, with dignity of archbishop, of the Archdiocese for the Military Services. On 12 August 1997 he became Military Ordinary.

On 12 July 2007 he was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore.

On 29 August 2011 he was appointed Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem and then on 15 March 2012 he became Grand Master.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by Benedict XVI in the consistory of 18 February 2012, of the Deaconry of San Sebastiano al Palatino (St. Sebastian at the Palatine).

Member of:

  • Congregations: for the Oriental Churches, for Catholic Education
  • Pontifical Councils: for Justice and Peace; Cor Unum



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