LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles City Council adjourned its meeting Tuesday in honor of Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell, who was shot to death in his home over the weekend.
Several council members spoke about O’Connell’s impact on the community. At the time of his death, O’Connell — widely known as “Bishop Dave” — was vicar for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ San Gabriel Pastoral Region, a post he had since 2015 when Pope Francis appointed him as an auxiliary bishop for the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
He was particularly known for his work on behalf of the poor and to combat violence.
Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez said O’Connell “will be remembered as always fighting for change in the communities most impacted by violence.”
“He led with compassion and understanding, working with those that understand the impacts felt by the neighborhood,” Rodriguez said. “He was an unrelenting advocate for communities that are so often left on the margins, particularly undocumented and immigrant communities.”
O’Connell’s work with the South Central Organizing Committee helped lead to efforts in gang intervention and closing liquor stores that were eventually championed by groups like Community Coalition, which Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson led prior to joining the council.
“This is one of our most loving and shining angels that we’ve lost,” Harris-Dawson said.
The husband of a housekeeper who worked for O’Connell was arrested in connection with the bishop’s death on Monday morning.
O’Connell had previously served as associate pastor at St. Raymond Catholic Church in Downey, St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church in Long Beach, and St. Hilary Church of Perpetual Adoration in Pico Rivera and then as pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini, Ascension, St. Eugene and St. Michael’s parishes, all in Los Angeles.
O’Connell was born in County Cork, Ireland. He studied for the priesthood at All Hallows College in Dublin and was ordained to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1979, according to Doris Benavides, associate director of media relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
As chairman of the interdiocesan Southern California Immigration Task Force, O’Connell helped coordinate the church’s response to immigrant children and families from Central America in recent years. He also sponsored the enrollment of several young immigrants in Catholic schools, a number of whom have advanced to college.
“Known to many, Bishop O’Connell practiced a prophetic form of Catholicism, engaging in social issues and demanding urgent action within its institutions, regardless if it meant standing in opposition,” Rodriguez said.
In September, O’Connell was honored with the Evangelii Gaudium Award from St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.
A gathering of mourners held candles and stood near the intersection of Janlu and Los Robles avenues in Hacienda Heights on Saturday night and prayed the rosary in his memory. A memorial continued to grow outside his home in subsequent days.
“Bishop David truly represented the best of Catholic social teaching, and had what is often referred to as a preferential option for the poor,” Councilman Tim McOsker said. “He was a great, great, great man.”