The Dennis O’Brien Story

The Dennis O’Brien Story

“Always look on the bright side of life.”  These words from a well-known song typify the optimistic attitude of Dennis O’Brien, a member of the Leeds 2nd Ward.  He is always keen to take part in any event suggested to him in spite of his 89 years and an extensive medical history, comprising angina for the past 38 years, a heart bypass, kidney disease, a hip replacement, prostate cancer for 12 years, skin cancer for four years, arthritis in his shoulders, back and arms, and now he’s unable to enjoy his food to the full due to a deterioration in his taste buds.

In 1978, Dennis and his son, Peter investigated the Church.  Peter was baptised but Dennis was not.  However, Dennis came to Church each week for several years to support his son as he attended Sacrament services and all the regular lessons.  Most of the members there assumed that Dennis had been baptised and didn’t know that he wasn’t actually a member.

In 2011, Dennis’s wife, Joyce, became seriously ill and Dennis and his son, Peter, became her carers.  As anyone who has been a carer knows, it was an exhausting time for them and Dennis found it increasingly hard to cope.  He couldn’t see how his life could improve.  In that year, he contacted Peter Kite, a member at Leeds 2nd Ward, for help in explaining some building plans initiated by his neighbour and Peter was able to alleviate his concerns.  Later Dennis rang Peter again to say he felt that he had neglected the spiritual side of his life and wanted to feel right before the Lord. 

In September 2011 Dennis came to Church again and began the investigator lessons with the missionaries who included Elder and Sister Weston, from Logan Utah, who at that time were serving a senior couple mission. They played a large part in leading him to the waters of baptism. 

Dennis’s first visit to the Preston Temple was in August 2013 on a new members’ temple trip when he witnessed baptisms being performed for those on his family tree.  Members in Leeds 2 had been researching his family history and eventually found over 100 names.  Dennis was impressed with the temple grounds on his visit as he had been a landscape gardener at one time.  When he stood and admired the grounds he felt like “he was in Heaven.”  He noted the conically shaped trees running down both sides of the temple and appreciated the work that had gone into making them so neat. 

In July 2014, his beautiful wife, Joyce, passed away.  Many members supported Dennis and helped him through this sad time. 

In October that year, Dennis began the course of preparation lessons for the temple. He felt it truly was the House of God and it was a privilege to go there.  In March 2015, accompanied by about 20 Ward members, Dennis took out his own endowment.  Following that, his Leeds 2 friends had been busy getting the temple work completed in his family tree so that he could go recently in November to be sealed to his wife and for both of them to be sealed to their parents.

On the Thursday before he was due to go on the Saturday, Dennis experienced chest pains and was rushed into hospital by ambulance.  Everyone thought that his Temple trip would need to be cancelled.  He was kept in hospital overnight but by Friday, although feeling very tired, he was keen to come home.  He informed members that he would confirm on Saturday morning if he was well enough to attend.  He rang them early with undiminished enthusiasm and the trip went ahead. As the ceremony took place, Dennis’s joy was full.

Commenting recently about their missionary experiences Randy and Debi Weston remarked, “We met Dennis, and were immediately impressed by him when the elders brought him to church for the first time while we were serving a mission in Leeds from 2010.  He was so happy to be in our Gospel Essentials class and had many thoughtful insights to share as we learned together.  As the months went by, we learned to love Dennis and appreciate his sincere efforts to learn more and to do whatever he could, to show the Lord his love and willingness to keep the commandments and accept the restored Gospel.  We were inspired with his determination to keep coming to church in spite of difficult circumstances at home and health challenges.  But come he did, and his testimony and love of the word of the Lord touched and taught us all.  We count it a sacred privilege to know and to have been with Dennis during his investigation process, and know that he instinctively has had a strong and living testimony since he first heard the message over 40 years ago.  He is indeed a valiant and wonderful spirit and we love him!”

Today Dennis is an inspiring, much loved member of the Leeds 2nd Ward and enjoys participating in everything that he possibly can.