He’s an Elmira native, and with few exceptions, Father Gerald T. O’Connor has stuck close to home in his priestly ministry.
"I prefer the beauty of the Finger Lakes and the hills and the change of season, and everything else in the Southern Tier," Father O’Connor said.
The priest has spent the past 25 years as pastor of St. Stanislaus Church, Bradford, and St. Joseph Church, Campbell. He also has served for 16 years as administrator of St. Catherine of Siena, Addison — the "A" component in what is commonly referred to as the "A-B-C" parishes of central Steuben County.
Father O’Connor, who will turn 67 on May 10, grew up in St. Patrick’s Parish in Elmira. He attended St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries and was ordained June 4, 1966.
He served as assistant pastor at St. Thomas More Parish, Irondequoit (1966-71), during which time he also served in the Spanish Apostolate in Geneva and with Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing Foundation.
He spent 1971-79 as assistant pastor at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish, Elmira. During this period he also taught at St. Patrick’s Junior High School and assisted with chaplaincy duty at Notre Dame High School. He then served as assistant pastor at St. Mary of the Lake, Watkins Glen/St. Benedict’s, Odessa (1979-82) and St. Francis de Sales, Geneva (1982).
In 1982 Father O’Connor moved to Steuben County and has been rooted in the parishes there ever since. He started as pastor of St. Stanislaus and St. Joseph while also assisting at St. Mary in Corning, then took on the administrator position in Addison in 1991.
He has made a formidable team with Father Andrew Kalafsky, his former pastor in Watkins Glen/Odessa, who died April 13. Father Kalafsky was highly active for many years as a retired priest in the A-B-C churches.
Of his longtime pastorate, Father O’Connor remarked, "Well, if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t have been there 25 years, you know? I’m extremely happy that Father Pat Connor (the priest who will succeed him) is coming here. He is also a Southern Tier person and will fit in well with the people here. They’re good people — they’ve been very good to Father K. and myself over the years."
In retirement Father O’Connor will live full time at his residence in Himrod, on the east side of Seneca Lake. He expects to help out in various parishes on weekends when needed.
A celebration for Father O’Connor will take place Sunday, June 10. For details, call 607/359-2115.