O’BRYAN, GREGORY, Roman Catholic priest, Jesuit, and college administrator; b. 18 April 1858 in Halifax; d. 6 June 1907 in Montreal.
After six years at St Mary’s College in Halifax, Gregory O’Bryan pursued his studies for seven months at the Séminaire de Philosophie in Montreal. He first entered the Jesuit noviciate at Sault-au-Récollet (Montreal North) on 6 April 1877. He was sent to the noviciate at West Park, N.Y., which had been founded the previous year for candidates born in the United States, but he left the Society of Jesus shortly afterwards. Returning to Montreal, he taught for a year at the Collège Sainte-Marie, and asked a second time to be admitted to the Jesuit noviciate on 7 Aug. 1879, the very day that the decree separating the Canada mission from New York was promulgated. His training within the society, to which he was officially admitted in 1881, took place in both Canada and Europe. After a year of classical studies at Saint-au-Récollet in 1881–82, he taught at the Collège Sainte-Marie in 1882–83. Following two years of philosophy at Stonyhurst College in England, from 1883 to 1885, and two of teaching at the Collège de Saint-Boniface in Manitoba, from 1885 to 1887, he studied theology for four years, in Montreal and in Ireland at Milltown (near Dublin), where he was ordained priest in 1890, and at Tullamore. He had a final year of spiritual training at Roehampton, near London, England.
O’Bryan returned to Canada in the spring of 1892 and then spent four years preaching across the country, in Newfoundland, and in the northern United States. Renowned for his talent in the pulpit, he also organized retreats for religious communities and priests. On 31 July 1896 the superior of the Canada mission appointed him the first rector of Loyola College in Montreal, recently founded to take in the English section of the Collège Sainte-Marie, which then had 150 students. Located at the corner of Rue de Bleury and Rue Sainte-Catherine, the college opened on 2 September; affiliated with the Université de Montréal at first, it became autonomous in 1899. A division between the French and English sections of the Canada mission was thus taking shape, a division which would be completed in 1924. From 1896 until 1901 and from 1905 until his death on 6 June 1907, O’Bryan presided brilliantly over the destiny of the new anglophone Montreal institution.
ASJCF, D-7; Fonds Immaculée-Conception, 3865, 3885, 3893, 3899, 3909; MO-28-28; R-11-25. True Witness and Catholic Chronicle (Montreal), 13 June 1907. Littera annuœ missionis canadensis Societatis Jesu, a die 1a aug. 1903 ad diem 1am aug. 1907 (Montreal, 1910), 155–58. Rumilly, Hist. de Montréal, vol.3. A. T. Sadlier, “The late rector of Loyola,” Canadian Messenger of the Sacred Heart (Montreal), 17 (1907): 364–68. Woodstock Letters (Woodstock, Md), 37 (1908): 102–5.