Families of diocese’s new priests say they are caring, smart, have sense of humor
What can their new parishes in Streator and Peoria expect when newly ordained Father Ryan Mattingly and Father Andru O’Brien arrive in a few days?
Who better to ask than their parents and sisters, who witnessed the Ordination Mass on May 26 from the front pews of St. Mary’s Cathedral but have been the closest to the new priests for more than a quarter century?
Asked for adjectives to describe their sons and brothers, the families used these words:
Of Father Mattingly: Passionate, loyal, intelligent (“Wickedly smart,” said mother Ann), joyous, very loved, and with a great sense of humor. “He’s intentional with everything,” added his younger sister, Katina.
Of Father O’Brien: Dedicated, humble, loving, amazing, caring, and incredibly intelligent. His sister Megan, who turned 23 on ordination day, also labeled her brother a “smart-aleck” and a jokester. Youngest sister Abbi added “prankster,” which led to a story of how after one school year Andru took all of his papers from the semester and covered every surface of Megan’s room.
“I opened the door to my room and there were papers everywhere,” recalled Megan. “I was so mad!”
On ordination day, they were all so proud.
A MASS FILLED WITH MEMORIES
“I got to be the first one to receive Communion from him,” said Father Mattingly’s father, Troy. “I’ll remember that.”
Ann Mattingly will remember the expression on her son’s face when the cathedral assembly applauded the two candidates’ acceptance by Bishop Jenky for the priesthood. “That was the end result of his six years of seminary,” she told The Catholic Post.
Scott O’Brien listed several memorable moments during the Ordination Mass, including when priests of the diocese — including those whose ministry and counsel have already had personal impacts — lined up to give the newly ordained a welcoming embrace. “I could see (Father O’Brien’s) appreciation and humility. It was overwhelming and tough to fight back tears.”
While both families admitted to a degree of surprise when they were first told of decisions to explore the priesthood — Father Mattingly while a student at the University of Illinois and Father O’Brien prior to his senior year at Normal Community High School — they said it was clear their sons and brothers chose the right path.
Tera O’Brien had a sense of peace from the moment they dropped Andru off at Immaculate Heart of Mary Seminary in Winona, Minnesota.
“Everyone gets nervous taking their kids to college,” she said. “We drove away and I’m like ‘He’s in great hands.’ We were not sad at all. It was where he needed to be.”
Favorite foods? For Father Mattingly, it’s pizza, pasta, or a good steak. “He’s a big meat eater,” said his mother, adding that she and Katina are not. Father O’Brien’s family said he enjoys authentic Mexican food.