The unexpected news of the shooting death of Bishop David O’Connell on February 18 in Los Angeles shook the community. Immediately after, people made memorials outside his house and began paying their respects.
For the Archdiocese of L.A., Bishop O’Connell was more than a spiritual father, he was a friend.
“Bishop Dave was a man for all people, sort of like St. Paul. We hear St. Paul being all things for all people and he had a way of receiving people who were in their most vulnerable and neediest moments. But simultaneously was a community leader. He worked with city council. He worked with the police department, with the sheriff’s department, was involved in a lot of civil movements as well,” said Father Jonathon Meyer.
Fr. Jonathon and Fr. Brian Humphrey both knew the Bishop when he was simply Fr. Dave. Before being ordained a bishop, he was the pastor in a violent gang neighborhood. He would find people on the streets and give them work.
But for these two young priests, he was also someone who helped them discern their vocation. During the year Fr. Jonathon spent serving at St. Michael’s, a local parish, Bishop O’Connell gave him the push he needed to fully commit to the priesthood.
“It was in that year at St. Michael’s, I think especially through his witness, through his love, through his faith and devotion to the Lord that kind of gave me that bit of impetus, that last sort of push to say fiat, yes, I will do Your will, Lord,” said Meyer.
Bishop O’Connell’s work with the various groups in the community earned him the name “The Peacemaker.”
“You know, I think that’s a great name for him. I think the Archbishop gave him that name in his statement and I think it’s perfect.
Not just because of all the social work and a lot of the things he did in the community—which he did a ton—but in that interpersonal way where he would love you, even in the midst of your acting out. He would look at you with love,” said Humphrey.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is holding three days of memorial services beginning on March 1 and ending on March 3. Bishop David O’Connell will be laid to rest in Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on March 4.