Monday, August 6, 2012

The Passing of Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell

A few weeks ago I learned of the death of Bishop Anthony J. O'Connell. Tony O'Connell, known to many as "OC" was the director of vocations who invited me to join the Diocese of Jefferson City MO after my sponsorship by the Diocese of Joliet had ended.The story of Bishop O'Connell, especially his downfall after acknowledging many, many years of sexual abuse with seminarians, has been well published and there is no need for me to recall its soridness in the blog.

My injury by O'Connell was never sexual, but rather best described as formational malpractice. During my entire time with Jefferson City, O'Connell had no idea as anything going on with me. When I completed my studies for my Maters of Divinity at Kenrick Seminary one semester ahead of schedule, his response to me was "Oh, you're done?"

O'Connell escaped imprisionment for his actions by finding sanctuary at the Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, S.C. He remained under their strict supervision until his death in May. It has been reported that O'Connell lead a life of pennance at the Abbey and worked at duties common for all of the monks including "feeding the chickens." Sadly, that is what got O'Connell in trouble in the first place.

The news of O'Connell's death left me rather sad. My anger at him and the Diocese of Jefferson City has long past been overshadowed and healed from nearly 20 years of combined priesthood and episcopal ministry. Some years ago, I had planned on going to South Carolina to see him face to face and to ask for an explanation for his actions towards me, but I never did. I know now, more than ever, the meaning of the phrase that life is too short. I learned to simply put him and our entired shared time together in God's hands.And now that he has left this life, I hope that he was able to make his peace with God.

So I leave him for all time in God's hands.

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