Father Richard O’Connell, a longtime parish priest, died Jan. 13, 2016. He was 90 years old.
Father O’Connell grew up in Clifton Springs and later attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester. Bishop James E. Kearney ordained Father O’Connell on June 2, 1951 at Rochester’s Sacred Heart Cathedral.
Following ordination Father O’Connell served as assistant pastor at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rochester (1951-54); St. Rita Parish in Webster (1954-61); St. James Parish in Irondequoit (1961-64); Holy Rosary Parish in Rochester (1964-66); and St. Agnes Parish in Avon (1966). He also served as temporary administrator of St. Dominic Parish in Shortsville for a few months in 1961.
In 1969 Father O’Connell became pastor of St. Catherine Parish in Addison, where he served until 1972. He went on to serve as pastor at St. Mary Parish in Dansville from 1972 to 1978 and as pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul, St. Cecilia and St. John the Baptist parishes in Elmira between 1978 and 1982.
In 1983, he became pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Rush, where he served until his retirement from active priestly ministry in 1995. In retirement he lived for several years at St. Monica Parish in Rochester before moving to the Mercy Center in Brighton.
Father Robert Werth, who served as pastor at St. Monica for 12 years, became close friends with Father O’Connell while the retired priest resided on the grounds of the Rochester parish. He described Father O’Connell as a "charming, happy-go-lucky, sweet man."
"He was very humble. He worked very hard at his relationship with Jesus. He loved being a priest," Father Werth said.
Father O’Connell will lie in state from 2 to 6 p.m. on Jan. 15, 2016, at the Mercy Center, 1437 Blossom Road, Rochester. Bishop Salvatore R. Matano will preside over a vigil service that afternoon at 4 p.m.
Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark will celebrate Father O’Connell’s funeral Mass Jan. 16, 2016 at 10 a.m. at the Mercy Center. Interment will follow at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Mercy Center.
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