LOS ANGELES (RNS) — Catholics, multi-faith clergy and elected leaders from throughout Southern California stuffed the pews of the Cathedral of Our Woman of the Angels in downtown Los Angeles on Friday for the funeral Mass of Auxiliary Bishop David Gerard O’Connell, a beloved priest thought to be a “peacekeeper,” a “man of the folks” and a “good buddy to Los Angeles.”
It was the third day of memorial providers in remembrance of O’Connell, 69, a local of Eire, who was discovered shot to dying Feb. 18 in his Hacienda Heights residence. Parishioners on Thursday fashioned traces on the cathedral throughout a daylong public viewing for the bishop earlier than a vigil Mass was held in his honor.
On Friday, the prayer of St. Patrick emanated as bishops and cardinals processed into the cathedral. Cardinal Robert McElroy was among the many bishops in attendance. Metropolis and state leaders together with Los Angeles Police Division Chief Michel Moore and California Senator Maria Elena Durazo sat within the entrance pews alongside O’Connell’s household.
In his homily, Monsignor Jarlath Cunnane spoke of his 50 years of friendship with O’Connell, whom he described as a buddy of Jesus and of the poor. Cunnane recalled how O’Connell was devoted to him whereas he was unwell within the hospital. He additionally remembered their weekly dinners for which O’Connell would usually arrive early and stroll alongside the parking zone, along with his canine’s leash in a single hand and a rosary within the different.
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“I’d have a look at the 2 of them, him and the canine so at peace, generally I fancied the canine had discovered the rosary,” Cunnane joked.
He stated that he and O’Connell had been “caminantes juntos,” or “wayfarers collectively.”
“He wasn’t simply my good buddy. Friendship was one thing he was good at. He was buddies with younger and previous, far and broad, with folks in Peru, in South Africa, in Eire. He was buddies up and down the social scale, relaxed within the corridors of energy and with the powerless, relaxed with the movers and the shakers, and in addition with the moved and the shaken,” Cunnane stated.
“You’re blessed when you’ve got a soul buddy, and I used to be blessed to have had David,” he stated.
Parishioners had been in tears as Cunnane ended his homily with an adaptation of the speech of Tom Joad from John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.”
“Wherever a stranger, immigrant is to be welcomed, I’ll be there … wherever there’s a final soul given God’s love, I’ll be there,” stated Cunnane.
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The bishop’s nephew, David O’Connell, spoke in the course of the Mass about “Uncle Dave,” remembering him as a jokester who at all times visited buddies and neighbors when he was in Eire. “He by no means had an issue making time for folks,” he stated.
He stated the bishop at all times took curiosity in his household’s milestones and that “all he needed to do was make issues simpler for everybody else.”
“He by no means ended a telephone name with out telling me how proud he was of me, and I hope that he is aware of that we’re all so pleased with him,” the bishop’s nephew stated.
“We now all have the chance to select up the place he left off and to hold the instance that he set,” he added. “Assist these that you may assist … be thoughtful and provides others the good thing about the doubt.”
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gómez addressed parishioners and O’Connell’s household, saying that though the bishop can be missed “in an extraordinary means in our lives and within the lifetime of the church … we all know that he’s in heaven.”
“From there, he’s going to proceed to intercede for us as he has finished his entire life,” Gómez stated.
O’Connel had been episcopal vicar for the archdiocese’s San Gabriel Pastoral Area since 2015, when Pope Francis named him an auxiliary, based on Angelus Information, the L.A. Archdiocese’s information outlet. He had labored within the L.A. diocese for 45 years.
Born in County Cork, Eire, in 1953, O’Connell studied for the priesthood at All Hallows School in Dublin and was ordained to serve within the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1979, based on Angelus Information.
After ordination, O’Connell labored in South Central L.A. parishes and centered on gang intervention. He labored to mediate peace between residents and legislation enforcement following the violent 1992 rebellion after a jury acquitted 4 white L.A. cops within the beating of Rodney King.
Maria Reyna attended the Mass on Friday and recalled assembly O’Connell whereas he visited her parish in South Central L.A. She remembers his kindness and his smile. “Everyone is aware of him locally and would converse fondly of him,” she stated.
Though Reyna solely met O’Connell that one time, she stated he left an enduring impression. She was saddened to see O’Connell die violently, given the work he did in uniting others.
“It was vital for me to be right here to bid him farewell from this world,” she stated.
Sergio Lopez, with Catholic Aid Companies, attended the Mass and stated he labored with O’Connell by way of an inter-diocesan immigration job pressure. He recalled visiting the U.S.-Mexico border in 2017 with O’Connell and different leaders simply because the journey ban to Muslim-majority nations had been introduced.
Being with O’Connell and others engaged on immigration points throughout that point, he stated, “actually impressed me at a second that was very troublesome for me.”
“I knew from one of many very first moments that I met him that there was one thing actually particular about him,” Lopez stated.