Brother John was born of Irish parents in San Francisco. He was very proud of his Irish heritage. Brother worked as a lithographer and served in the army for several years before he entered the monastery. He entered the Abbey of New Clairvaux on May 21, 1962. He held the position of guestmaster for which he was known, but performed many other important tasks such as being the monastery launderer, cantor, librarian and part-time cook. As cook, he was famous for baking gingerbread for the monks. Brother John was also fond of cats especially one he named "Angel."
Several days before his death the monastic community gathered by his bedside to recite the prayers of recommendation for the dying. Although Brother John was conscious, he was barely able to speak. But as each brother bid his final farewell, Brother John was able to communicate the words, “I love you.” Brother John was 84 years old and had been in solemn monastic vows for 43 years when the Lord called him.