Grange-born priest home from sunny California is ‘sort of enjoying the rain’

Monsignor John O’Byrne will celebrate a Golden Jubilee Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Nicholas Church, Grange, Clonmel on this Sunday, August 14, at 10am.

Monsignor John O’Byrne will celebrate a Golden Jubilee Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Nicholas Church, Grange, Clonmel on this Sunday, August 14, at 10am.

Monsignor O’Byrne, a native of Ballindoney Castle, Grange, Clonmel was ordained at the Cathedral in Waterford by the late Bishop Daniel Cohalan on June 18, 1961, for service in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, California.

On Saturday, June 18, the parish of St. Catherine Laboure in Torrance, California, celebrated his Golden Jubilee of Ordination with a musically rich Mass and festive celebration in the parish hall. Some 650 parishioners and friends attended the happy occasion.

Torrance is 20 miles southwest of Los Angeles, four miles from the Pacific Ocean and close to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Monsignor O’Byrne has served the parish for 35 years, the last 24 years as Pastor (P.P.).

In the meantime he has returned to Ireland 46 times to keep in touch with his roots. Currently holidaying at his brother, Michael’s home near Grange, he says he’s sort of enjoying the rain! Southern California gets about 30 days of rain a year and 300 days of sunshine.

He describes his life as a priest in Los Angeles as “exciting and demanding, but it’s the best challenge in the world”.

St. Catherine Laboure parish, founded in 1947, was one of the first in the world named in honour of St. Catherine, who was canonised in July, 1947. There are 4,000 registered households with approximately 12,000 parishioners. Seven Masses are celebrated each weekend, including one in Vietnamese and one in Spanish. The parish also has a large contingent of Philippinos, Samoans, African Americans and some native Africans. The priests serving the parish come from Ireland, Samoa and Vietnam. Two other priests live in the parish, one from Ghana, Africa and one from India. They’re students at nearby Loyola Marymount University.