Those who knew and loved Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell are relying on their faith to get through this tragedy.
And they’re remembering their beloved bishop as a man of peace, a fierce advocate for immigrants, and just a funny guy.
Cracking jokes at Mass is just one of the memories parishioners have of the bishop.
“He was a good guy and he was always talking about it,” Ron Sanceda, a local Parishioner, said. “He would joke, he was a joking guy, and he was a pleasure to listen to.”
Stunned Catholics have been turning to prayer in the wake of the beloved bishop’s murder.
“He changed our lives,” Lucy Boutte, a parishioner said. “Very supportive, (he’d) always working for the good of people.”
After being ordained a priest in 1979, O’Connell ministered at several parishes–mainly dealing with gang violence and poverty.
When he was named an auxiliary bishop in 2015, working with immigrants really became a top priority for him.
It’s how Los Angeles County supervisor, Hilda Solis, says she came to know him and his passion in working to help to pass immigration reform.
“He continued to diligently work and seek assistance for those vulnerable individuals in our community,” Solis said. “Especially young people and especially the undocumented young people.”
Solis called him a personal friend and said her heart is broken. It’s a grief felt by so many in this community.
“He’s just a beautiful human being,” Betty Covarrubias, a parishioner, said. “It’s just hard to believe anybody would ever consider hurting him in any way.”
Bishop O’Connell founded and served as chairman of the inter-diocesan Southern California immigration task force, which helped coordinate the church’s response to the recent influx of migrants.
Friends and parishioners are still waiting to hear of funeral arrangements by the archdiocese of Los Angeles.