07 March 2023, The Tablet

Thousands turn out for funeral of LA bishop David O'Connell

“For Dave, especially in the recent years, life was prayer. Life was in the presence of Christ, and that is what he shared.”

Thousands turn out for funeral of LA bishop David O'Connell

David O'Connell, nephew of the late Bishop David O'Connell, speaks during a memorial Mass for his uncle in St John Vianney Church on 1 March.
Associated Press/Alamy

Thousands gathered for the funeral of Los Angeles auxiliary bishop David O’Connell, who was shot dead last month, allegedly by the husband of his housekeeper in a dispute over money.

O’Connell, aged 69 at the time of his death, was beloved for his work with the poor in Los Angeles, the second largest city in America.

“We know that he’s in heaven,” said the Archbishop of Los Angeles, José Gómez, who presided over the funeral liturgy. “From there, he’s going to continue to intercede for us, as he has done his whole life.”

Gómez also read a telegram from the Vatican, signed by the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

“To those gathered for the Mass of Christian burial and to all who mourn Bishop O’Connell’s loss in the sure hope of the resurrection, the Holy Father cordially imparts his blessing as a pledge of peace and consolation in the Lord,” it read.

The body of the Cork-born prelate was carried into the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels as the choir sang the prayer, “St Patrick’s Breastplate” set to a new hymn tune: “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left.”

An crowd filled the cathedral and the square in front of it, and dozens of prelates attended.

Mgr Jarlath (Jay) Cunnane preached the homily, calling the slain bishop his anam cara, Gaelic for “soul friend”.

“For Dave, life was, and especially in the recent years, life was prayer,” said Mgr Cunnane.

“Life was in the presence of Christ, and that is what he shared. Yes, he helped the poor. Yes, he fought for justice. But, most of all, what he wanted to share was that encounter with Jesus Christ.”

The late bishop’s nephew, also named David O’Connell, delivered a eulogy.

“He was really the rock of the family, the one we went to for advice and for support,” he said. “We are all heartbroken.”

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