Edward A. O’Reilly, O.S.A.

1849 – 1889 (January 2)

Edward Augustine O’Reilly, son of John O’Reilly and Margaret Corcoran, was born in Maryborough, Ireland, September 8, 1849. He began his studies in Laois County, Ireland, and later, with the Oblate Fathers in England. Coming to America he entered the novitiate at Villanova, Pennsylvania, on January 21, 1871, pronounced simple vows on January 22, 1872, and solemn vows on January 24, 1875. After four years study at Villanova he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Stephen V. Ryan of Buffalo at Germantown, Pa., on July 18, 1875.

Father O’Reilly’s first assignment was as an assistant at Old Saint Augustine’s in Philadelphia, Pa., from 1875 to 1877. Afterward he served for four years as assistant pastor at Saint Mary’s Parish, Lawrence, Massachusetts, from 1877 to 1881. The remaining years of his ministry were spent as a professor of Latin and Greek at Villanova College. During this period, Father O’Reilly tended also to the spiritual welfare of the parishioners of the Berwyn Mission. Known as a zealous laborer in the Lord’s vineyard he was deeply loved by the people. 

Father O’Reilly had been ailing for several months with apoplexy, but seemed to be on the road to recovery. His spirits were good and he entered the new year with great promise. His death, therefore, came as a great shock not only in its timing, but also in its manner. He was overcome in his room in the Villanova Monastery from gas vapors during the night of January 2, 1889, and despite the efforts of the friars to revive him, his already weakened condition made him most vulnerable. He was 39 years of age.

The Funeral Mass was offered at Saint Thoams of Villanova Church with a large participation of friars, faculty and students, after which Father O’Reilly was buried in the Community Cemetery at Villanova.