An American POW, Alexander Makaroumis, was in the same North Korean prison with Msgr. Patrick “Pat” Brennan, Fr. Thomas “Tommy” Cusack, and Fr. John “Jack/Jackie” O’Brien, three Columban missionaries who are now listed among the 81 North Korean Martyrs whose cause for beatification is being considered.
Makaroumis reported that the priests were constantly concerned to keep up the prisoners’ spirits:
“At other times, [Monsignor Brennan]’d encourage Father O’Brien to sing us a song and do one of his Irish jigs. Father O’Brien sort of made you forget you were cooped up in a prison cell, and sent you flying back home….”
Later the prisoners were moved to a prison near Seoul, at the old monastery at Taejon/Daejon. When the war started going against the North Koreans, the priests were massacred with over a thousand other prisoners to prevent them falling into UN hands. Brennan, Cusack, and O’Brien’s death date was September 24, 1950.
These three men are currently under consideration to become Venerables, Blesseds, and (God willing) Saints named on the altar. They are listed as part of the 80 companions of Hong Yong-ho Franciscus Borgia and 80 Companions. Fr. O’Brien is number 50 on the list.
Fr. O’Brien’s native place was Donamon, County Roscommon, Ireland. He was born on December 1, 1918, so he may become the first saint from Ireland’s days as a republic.
A page on the many Columban martyrs, in Korea and elsewhere. Some of them are men who died violently in the course of their priestly duties, although not probably killed for hatred of the faith. The most recent death listed was in 2001, in the Philippines. Please pray for their souls and ask them to pray for us.