Remembering Bishop David O’Connell
The ACI steering group are deeply saddened by the traumatic death of Bishop David O’Connell at his home in Los Angeles last weekend.
David chose to live his ministry in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalised in St Gabriel Valley in La County. (You can read more about his life here.)
He came to our attention in 2018 during the planning for our “Future Families: Challenges for Faith and Society” conference, prior to the 2018 World Meeting of Families; when a segment of video in which he spoke, was deleted from the WMOF promotional materials.
David was someone who clearly had strong bonds of friendship with people from his community living in all kinds of contemporary families, and he was a witness to the love that existed therein. In his comments which were included in the original version of the promotional video for the World Meeting of Families, “Amoris let’s talk family” programme for parishes, David honoured the grace that existed in families that didn’t conform to the Church’s ideal of lifelong heterosexual marriages. His short statement had intended that all families would feel represented, valued and welcomed at the August 2018 World Meeting of Families.
While his comments may have been deleted due to pressure from ultra conservative groups; the impact of his words and the upset caused by their deletion raised awareness of the rejection felt by many contemporary Catholic families.
David who was known as a peacemaker, never made any public statement in response to the deletion of his comments from the WMOF promotional video, nor did he attend the August events.
It was difficult for anyone who was disillusioned by the hurt caused by the deletion of David’s comments and the ‘airbrushing’ of images from glossy promotional brochures, to attend the events without feeling that they were complicit in the hurt caused.
David was, however, sympathetic to Pope Francis who gave him hope; he acknowledged the difficult task Frances had.
We need to hold on to that hope, which resonated in the words of the chorus of Leonard Cohen’s song, ‘Anthem’ which Patrick Bergin performed at the WMOF event in Croke Park just as Pope Francis arrived, and circled the stadium in his popemobile.
‘There is a crack in everything; that’s how the light gets in’
We both remember with gratitude, and are inspired by our fellow Irish man, Bishop David O’Connell whose life exemplified the unconditional love shown by Jesus as He reached out, in solidarity, to those who encounter stigma, oppression and injustice with love.
Our condolences to his family, friends and community in LA County
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis