Loyola Medal goes to Rev. John E. (Jack) O'Brien, S.J.

Founder of Concordia's Department of Communication Studies, distinguished professor emeritus, and Jesuit priest to receive top honour.
June 14, 2011
By Nancy Wada

Professor Emeritus Reverend John E. (Jack) O’Brien, S.J., will be recognized for his contributions to Concordia University as an accomplished teacher, author, orator and administrator.

2011 Loyola Medal recipient Fr. John (Jack) O'Brien. | All photos courtesy Alumni Relations
2011 Loyola Medal recipient Rev. John E. (Jack) O’Brien, S.J. | All photos courtesy of Alumni Relations

Founder of Concordia’s renowned Department of Communication Studies and a Jesuit priest, the Distinguished Professor Emeritus Rev. John E. (Jack) O’Brien, S.J., has been selected to receive the 2011 Loyola Medal, one of the highest honours awarded by Concordia University.

The Loyola Medal was inaugurated in 1961 by the Loyola Alumni Association and the administration of Loyola College as a tribute to outstanding leadership and contribution to society.

After graduation from Loyola College in 1945, O’Brien joined the Society of Jesus, where he was ordained in 1957, and earned a doctorate in communication from the University of Southern California (USC) in 1964. He returned to his alma mater, where he founded Canada’s first Department of Communication Studies in 1965, then known as Communication Arts at Loyola College.

His pioneering vision and passion for the study and application of media, combined with his training as a Jesuit priest, led him down an unusual career path for a clergyman who had taken a vow of poverty.

Fr. John (Jack) O'Brien and Department of Communication Studies students.
Rev. O'Brien (seated, centre) and members of the Department of Communication Studies in their temporary quarters on Sherbrooke St. West, circa 1966.

While a student at USC, O’Brien was elected president of Alpha Epsilon Rho, known today as the National Broadcasting Society, an American association for broadcast and media students. For Montreal’s Expo 67 world fair, he chaired the Christian Pavilion programming committee.

In 1983, O’Brien's communications expertise took him to Rome where, as Secretary for Social Communication to the Father General of the Jesuits, he helped to reshape the training of young Jesuits worldwide.

Fr. John (Jack) O'Brien with Pope John Paul II.
An international meeting in Rome of Jesuits missioned to the communications field, September 1986. (Rev. O’Brien is third one in from the Pope.) | Photo by Arturo Mari, L'Osservatore Romano

O’Brien joins a distinguished group of past recipients, including Roberta Bondar (2009), Sen. and LtGen (ret) Roméo Dallaire (2006), the late Oscar Peterson (1997), fellow Jesuit the late Rev. Bernard Lonergan (1971) and the late Governor General Georges P. Vanier, L BA 06, (1963).

The Loyola Medal presentation will take place this fall at Concordia.

Related links:
•  Loyola Medal
•  Department of Communication Studies

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