Death of Bishop Joseph O’Connell

Bishop Joseph O’Connell, photo from

Media Release, 28 April, 2013

Bishop Joseph O’Connell, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Melbourne has died at Caritas Christi Hospice, Kew on Saturday 27 April 2013. He was 81.

In 1949 Bishop O’Connell commenced studies for teaching, but at the beginning of 1950 he entered Corpus Christi College Werribee to study for the priesthood and was ordained by Archbishop Justin Simonds in St Patrick’s Cathedral on 28th July 1957.

Bishop O’Connell obtained a doctorate in Canon Law in July 1961 from the Gregorian University, and lived at St Peter’s College in Rome while studying.

He worked in the parishes of West Melbourne and Yarraville, combining this with work in the Archdiocesan Tribunal, becoming Vice Officialis on 13 November 1968.
He was named Auxiliary bishop by Pope Paul VI on 12 February 1976, being consecrated by Archbishop Frank Little on 31 March of that year.

Archbishop Denis Hart, President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said that Bishop O’Connell’s contribution to Canon Law and a care for migrants will be among the things he will be remembered for.

“His contribution to jurisprudence and tribunal practice has long been esteemed. As Episcopal Vicar for Religious from 17 March 1969 he provided much assistance”, he said.

“Bishops, priests and people will remember his wise, mature counsel, his common sense and his love of migrants, and the pastoral care he gave to the people of the Archdiocese, where he was loved for his ready engagement with all.”

“The Bishops will especially remember his close involvement with the committees for Canon Law and the Bishops’ Committee for Justice and Peace , his involvement with many projects relating to the functioning of Conference and many other activities. He bore significant ill-health with great fortitude and patience, and is regarded as a great luminary by us all. With similar generosity he gave of his great abilities to assist in the revision of the Code of Canon Law.”

“He recently confided in me his great desire simply to bring people closer to God and to serve them. May his gifted and generous soul rest in the peace which he always sought to bring to others”, said Archbishop Hart.

The Pontifical Requiem Mass for Bishop Joe O’Connell will be celebrated at St Patrick’s Cathedral Melbourne on Friday 10 May at 11 a.m.

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