Thousands Gather At LA Cathedral For San Gabriel Valley Bishop David O’Connell’s Funeral


Weeks of mourning and remembrances will culminate today in a funeral Mass for slain Roman Catholic Bishop David O’Connell at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Angels in Downtown Los Angeles.

O’Connell, 69, a beloved priest in the diocese, who administered its San Gabriel Valley region, was found fatally shot on Feb. 18 at his Hacienda Heights home.

The 11 a.m. Mass is expected to draw large crowds to the Cathedral, where the Rev. Jay Cunnane, pastor at St. Corneliun Church in Long Beach, will give the homily.

More than 5,000 people in total were anticipated to attend the service – and by 10 a.m., the church pews were completely full.

Folks began lining up along the aisles and behind the pews to ensure they had a view of the funeral Mass.

Friday’s Mass is the last in a unique trio of services for the charismatic bishop, which began Wednesday night at his home parish, St. John Vianney, in Hacienda Heights, followed by a viewing and vigil on Thursday.

On Friday, hundreds of people – from a convent of nuns to the everyday churchgoer – had gathered in the Cathedral’s pews by 9 a.m., awaiting the third and final Mass to honor the fallen auxiliary bishop.

Mourners solemnly broached the entrance of the sanctuary, nestled in the heart of Downtown L.A., under the city’s typically hazy and smog-ridden skies.

But on Friday morning, streaks of sun shone through the gloom, as though the city — where O’Connell had dedicated much of life and fellowship — wished to bid him a final farewell.

The church’s gilded and grand interior, adorned with artifacts of great importance to the Catholic faith, also held fragments of O’Connell’s life: Memorial funeral sprays, lit candles in his honor, and prayers to shepherd him to his resting place.

The pews were packed at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown L.A. for the funeral Mass for Bishop David O’Connell, March 3, 2023. (Photo by Kristy Hutchings) O’Connell, who became a priest in his native Ireland, only to move to L.A. to begin his ministry 45 years ago, will be interred at the Cathedral’s underground Mausoleum in a private ceremony.

O’Connell — “Bishop Dave” as he was known — was born in County Cork, Ireland in 1953, and was named an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles by Pope Francis in 2015.

He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese of L.A. in 1979.

After ordination, he served as associate pastor in several parishes and as pastor at St. Frances X. Cabrini, Ascension, St. Eugene, and St. Michael’s parishes, all in L.A.

While there, he ministered to a community afflicted by gang violence and poverty.

In addition to aiding neighborhood recovery efforts after the 1992 Los Angeles riots (spurred by the acquittal of LAPD officers charged with beating Rodney King), O’Connell helped to restore trust between residents and law enforcement by organizing meetings with police officers in people’s homes and providing opportunities for dialogue and reconciliation.

He was killed in a shooting in his home; a suspect, the husband of the bishop’s housekeeper, has been charged and authorities say he has confessed to the crime.

Vittorio Ferla

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