Sean O’Sullivan was born in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1952. At an early age, he demonstrated an interest in politics. A chance meeting with John Diefenbaker in 1963, when Sean was just 11 years old, marked the beginning of his involvement with the Progressive Conservative Party. Diefenbaker became a mentor to him, and the two exchanged correspondence for many years. Sean became an active member of the Party, and his political career took off quickly. In 1965, he was elected to the executive of the Hamilton Area Young Progressive Conservatives, in 1968 was elected President, and also served as Youth Director for Diefenbaker’s re-election campaign. In 1970 he was elected President of the Ontario Young Progressive Conservatives, and in 1971 became Youth Adviser to Premier William Davis. Later that year, Diefenbaker chose Sean to be his Executive Assistant. In addition to his political activities, Sean enrolled at Brock University in 1969 to study political science. In 1972, he resigned as Diefenbaker’s assistant in order to run as a candidate for Hamilton-Wentworth in the federal election that year. At just 20 years of age, Sean was the youngest MP elected to the House of Commons. While working as an MP, Sean continued his studies at Brock University part-time, graduating with distinction. After being re-elected in 1974, he rose to greater prominence when he succeeded in having a private member’s bill passed making the beaver one of Canada’s national symbols. In 1977, he resigned as MP in order to pursue religious studies and become a Catholic priest. After completing four years of studies at the Irish College of Rome’s Gregorian University, Sean was ordained a priest in Toronto in 1981. In July, 1982, he was appointed Director of Vocations (full-time recruiter) for the archdiocese of Toronto. In this capacity, he implemented a controversial and widely publicized campaign to recruit priests. The recruitment succeeded in generating interest in the priesthood, doubling the number of students in the archdiocese. He was one of the founding members of Serra House, a residence for students considering the priesthood. After his term as Vocations Director ended in 1985, O’Sullivan became publisher of The Catholic Register, a weekly church newspaper. That same year, he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Brock University. In January 1987, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada. Later that year, he submitted a report to the Attorney General of Ontario, titled You’ve got a Friend, after conducting an independent review of Advocacy for Vulnerable Adults in Ontario at the request of the government. In 1983, O’Sullivan was diagnosed with leukemia. The disease went into remission after treatment, but was incurable. In 1989, he had a bone marrow transplant at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto, but died shortly afterwards. He was 37 years old. A memorial fund was established in his name, and included contributions from prominent business, church and political leaders such as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, Toronto Sun Chairman Doug Crieghton and His Eminence G. Emmett Carter. The O’Sullivan family requested that Brock University be the beneficiary of the proceeds of the campaign.

Click here to view the Sean O'Sullivan fonds finding aid: https://dr.library.brocku.ca/bitstream/handle/10464/4328/Sean%20O%27Sullivan%20fonds%20RG%20431.pdf?

Recent Submissions

  • Photograph - Sean O'Sullivan, 1971 

    Unknown author (2015-02-12)
  • Photograph - Father Sean O'Sullivan 

    Unknown author (2015-02-12)
  • Ordination Program, 3 October 1981 

    Unknown author (2015-02-12)
    A program for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Sean Patrick O'Sullivan Conferred by Gerald Emmett Cardinal Carter, D.D., Ph.D., Archbishop of Toronto.
  • Father Sean O'Sullivan Ordination Invitation 

    Unknown author (2015-02-12)
    An invitation to the ordination of Father Sean O'Sullivan, October 1981. The ordination took place at St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto, 3 October 1981. His first Mass of Thanksgiving took place the next day at St. ...
  • The Spirit of Hope: Research Centre Named in Honour of Father Sean O'Sullivan 

    Pullen, Heather (2015-02-12)
    An article in "Community Contact" (a publication by St. Joseph's Hospital, St. Joseph's Community Health Centre, and St. Joseph's Health Care Foundation) discussing the naming of the Father Sean O'Sullivan Research Centre. ...
  • Letter - John Diefenbaker to Sean O'Sullivan, 10 September 1965 

    Diefenbaker, John (2015-02-11)
    A letter from John Diefenbaker, 10 September 1965. It reads "I was delighted with your letter. Your loyalty is surpassed only by your enthusiasm. I hope all of our friends will work as hard as I know you will, and if ...
  • Re-election pamphlet - Sean O'Sullivan for Hamilton-Wentworth, 1974 

    Hamilton-Wentworth P.C. Association (2015-02-11)
    A pamphlet for re-election for Sean O'Sullivan, Hamilton-Wentworth, 1974. Included photographs of Sean O'Sullivan and quotes from several newspapers.
  • Letter - Cal Cavendish to Sean O'Sullivan, 25 May 1975 

    Cavendish, Cal (2015-02-11)
    A letter from Cal Cavendish of Cavenidish Country in Calgary, Alberta. Cavendish has written a song about former prime minister R. Honourable John Diefenbaker. He has included the lyrics to his song. A few of the lyrics: ...
  • Speech - Beaver Bill, 21 February 1975 

    O'Sullivan, Sean (2015-02-11)
    A speech by Sean O'Sullivan, given in the House of Commons, "For the Recognition of the Beaver as a Symbol of the Sovereignty of the Dominion of Canada".
  • Brock Essay - The Political Culture of Ontario 

    O'Sullivan, Sean (2015-02-11)
    An essay submitted by Sean O'Sullivan to Professor W.A. Matheson, 25 April 1977. The focus of the essay is stable government, "As one of the chief, if not the predominant, force in giving Confederation its political shape, ...
  • Brock Essay - The Chateau Cabinet 

    O'Sullivan, Sean (2015-02-05)
    An essay submitted to Professor J.E. Anderson by Sean O'Sullivan, 10 November 1975. The essay entitled, The Chateau Cabinet: A Case Study in Intra-Party Conflict, studies how "internal discontent---be it based on ...
  • Correspondence - Sean O'Sullivan with Robert L. Stanfield, 1974 

    O'Sullivan, Sean (2015-02-05)
    A correspondence between Robert L. Stanfield and Sean O'Sullivan regarding the future of the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes. In the first letter, Mr. Stanfield requests to hear about O'Sullivan's progress. The ...
  • Letter - Sean O'Sullivan to Richard Nixon, 20 December 1975 

    O'Sullivan, Sean (2015-02-05)
    A brief letter from Sean O'Sullivan to Richard Nixon, 20 December 1975. O'Sullivan thanks Nixon for a meeting they had in San Clemente, California. O'Sullivan remarks "It is my hope that the future will permit us to work ...
  • Letter - Ian Green to Sean O'Sullivan, July 1977 

    Green, Ian; O'Sullivan, Sean (2015-02-05)
    A correspondence between Ian Green and Sean O'Sullivan from July 1977. The first letter is from 4 July 1977 from Sean O'Sullivan, titled "The Nation's Business". He requests a discussion about "Caucus morale". O'Sullivan ...
  • Press Release - Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway Assignment, 25 October 1973 

    House of Commons Canada (2015-02-04)
    A press release assigning Sean O'Sullivan to study the future of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.
  • Sean O'Sullivan Speaks Out Speech, 28 October 1970 

    O'Sullivan, Sean (2015-02-04)
    A speech given by Sean O'Sullivan, 28 October 1970, at the Annual Meeting of the Fort Erie Progressive Conservative Association. He was President of the Ontario Young Progressive Conservative Association at the time and ...
  • Letter - Sean O'Sullivan to John G. Doherty, 28 April 1975 

    Doherty, John G. (2015-02-04)
    A letter from Sean O'Sullivan to John G. Doherty, editor of The Spectator, 28 April 1975. The letter includes comments from O'Sullivan regarding the direction of the Progressive Conservative Party.
  • Press Release - Youth for Diefenbaker, 1967 

    Youth for Diefenbaker (2015-01-29)
    A press release from Youth for Diefenbaker, 1 August 1967. The release reads: "Hamilton Student Appointed Youth for Dief Representative. The youngest delegate to the conservative leadership convention, 15 year old Sean ...
  • Letter - Victor K. Copps to Sean O'Sullivan, 9 December 1963 

    Copps, Victor K. (2015-01-29)
    A letter from Hamilton Mayor, Victor K. Copps, stating that he received a letter from Mr. O'Sullivan inviting him to a show at his school. Mr. O'Sullivan would have been about 11 years at the time. The Mayor plans to ...
  • Bill C-373 - First Reading, 24 January 1975 

    Unknown author (2015-01-29)
    "An Act to provide for the recognition of the Beaver (Castor canadensis) as a symbol of the sovereignty of the Dominion of Canada." Mr. Sean O'Sullivan worked to have this Bill passed, recognizing the Beaver as a symbol ...

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