Bishop David O'Connell, CM, JCD, DD
Friday, His Excellency, Bishop David O'Connell was consecrated Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton, NJ. Unfortunately, prior parish commitments prevented me from attending the ordination, but I watched the televised rebroadcast on EWTN that same evening. I have been blessed to have personally known a few priests of my generation who have been elevated to the episcopacy, both the Latin and Byzantine Churches. Like my former bishop, the Most Rev. Kevin Rhoades (now bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend), Dave O'Connell, was someone I always knew would be become a successor of the apostles. As a priest and seminary professor, he was (and still remains) totally and completely orthodox in his doctrine and a man of devout prayer. Never a fudd-duddy, Bishop O'Connell has a healthy, robust and infectious sense of humor while at the same time possessing a profound loyalty, reverence and sacerdotal piety. His love for Holy Mother Church and for the Blessed Virgin Mary made him one of my favorite profs. I was honored that he preached my first Mass at my diaconal parish, St. Gregory the Great, Lebanon, PA, on May 22, 1988, the feast and solemnity of Pentecost.
O'Connell's appointment by the Holy Father and his recommendation by Archbishop Pietro Sambi are not just evidence of their confidence in his abilities, they are also a sign to us priests and to all the faithful that the Pope and his Nuncio take seriously the selection of diocesan shepherd. While he has had an extended career in Catholic education (seminary and university alike), he has also served in diocesan tribunals and in parish ministry as well. A staunch defender of EX CORDE ECCLESIAE, Bishop O'Connell also restored a distinct Catholic identity to CUA during his presidency. One can see that this was no political appointment. This was truly a pastoral decision. A canon lawyer, an educator, an administrator and certainly a TEACHER, Dave O'Connell is, was, and always will be a GOOD and HOLY PRIEST. That is the caliber of episcopacy that will enable the USA and the world to not just survive the scandals of the proximate past, but will also empower the church to become stronger and more vibrant in the years to come. No one could ever accuse this man of being a 'bureaucrat' and never a 'sycophant'. Whatever his assignments, he served with honor and integrity. I hope and pray that one day Bishop O'Connell will also be Cardinal O'Connell because the universal church could use his talents and gifts at future conclave. The priests and people of Trenton are truly blessed and I wish him God's choicest blessing.
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