No signs, no crosses: Prophecy is unfulfilled


Keene Sentinel, February 6, 2000
By Brian Rourke

Nothing happened.

God's worldwide warning, as prophesied by Keene resident Ronald O'Brien, was a washout.

There was no heavenly sign in the sky between Jan. 19 and 31. There was no dark cross suspended in the stratosphere, as O'Brien had said there would be. No one reported seeing his soul "as God does." But followers of O'Brien, 55, a self-proclaimed prophet, couldn't care less about his failed prophecy.

"It doesn't change my faith in God either way," says Sean Gray of Erlanger, Ky. "I believe Ron was definitely sent by God." "I guess God has changed his mind," says Bethan Kendrick of Nelson. "It doesn't weaken my faith (in O'Brien). I'm sure he's just as dismayed as everyone else."

"I want to hear what Ron or Joe Hunt, who is closely tied to Ron, have to say," says Paul M. Blake of Canton, Mass. "I want to hear their explanation."

They don't offer one. Joseph Hunt of Princeton, N.J., a bishop in O'Brien's year-old Friends of the Eucharist organization and also its Web master, declined comment on the matter.

"I need to hear their story on where they see things," Blake says. "It's a rational approach to an irrational situation." Recently, it was revealed that, until 1995, Ronald O'Brien was Ronald Woodruff, who served 13 months in a federal prison for credit-card fraud, stealing $300,000.

Last year, O'Brien claimed thousands of hosts - the bread wafers Catholics use in Holy Communion - miraculously appeared in his Victoria Street home, sent straight from God. But documents obtained by The Sentinel show the hosts, 9,225 of them, were sent through the mail from two church-supply companies, where O'Brien bought them with a Discover credit card. Furthermore, O'Brien claimed the red that was marking his miraculous hosts was blood from Jesus Christ. But a state police laboratory analysis concluded it was a water-soluble red dye.

Since then, two experts, after reviewing O'Brien's case, called him a cult leader who happens to have raised more than $100,000.

"My e-mail is flooded from around the world by disenchanted people over this," said Sgt. Frederick Parsells, a detective with the Keene Police Department. "To the average person, this looks like fraud. But in the criminal-justice system, the standard of proof is very high. We're not there, yet."

Despite all the disclosures about O'Brien's past and his more recent actions, many of his believers still believed. They said, "Wait for the warning."

It didn't come, but O'Brien's followers are still following. "Let's say Ron can make a mistake," says Warren Wells of Scranton, Pa. "Any human being can make a mistake. Prophets can make mistakes, too." But some do wonder why nothing happened.

"I understood (the warning) would be apparent to everyone, indoors or outdoors," Blake says. "It was supposed to be a worldwide experience everyone was aware of."

O'Brien's next prophecy is for April 13 in Garabandal, Spain. All gathered there on that day will be healed of all infirmity and disability, the prophecy goes.

So, Kendrick is going to Spain with her disabled son, and others will monitor the event.

"April will come," Wells says. "And when it does, if there's no miracle at that time, I will make my decision of what I must do."

After April will come Armageddon, according to O'Brien. He says that, if the world does not turn to God and follow true Catholicism, which O'Brien asserts is the only true religion, 4 billion people will die. O'Brien is now living in Kiltimagh, Ireland, with his wife and two stepchildren. He was unavailable for comment.


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