Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O'Connell was found dead in his home in a Los Angeles suburb on Saturday afternoon, February 18. The Los Angeles Sheriff's Office said it was a homicide due to a gunshot wound. The clergyman was pronounced dead at the scene. The unfortunate news sent shockwaves through the Catholic community in Los Angeles. "I have no words to express my sadness," said Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles. Bishop O'Connell, 69, "was a sower of peace with a great heart for the poor and immigrants. He passionately sought to build a community that honored and protected the sanctity and dignity of every human life. He was a great friend," said Bishop Gomez.
Bishop David G. O'Connell was born in County Cork, in Ireland in 1953. He studied at the seminary All Hallows College of Dublin. In 1979 he was ordained to the priesthood to serve in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. He carried out his priestly ministry as a pastor in several churches in South Los Angeles, an area affected by poverty. He focused his pastoral efforts on communities affected by violence, gangs, and racial tensions, which culminated in the Los Angeles riots of the early 1990s and were triggered by the brutal beating of African-American Rodney King in March 1991 by police officers. O'Connell worked tenaciously to restore trust between law enforcement and the Los Angeles community.
In 2015 Pope Francis appointed him auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and assigned him the pastoral region of San Gabriel. In his episcopal ministry he worked hard on evangelization, immigrant ministry and Catholic schools. "Parishes and schools are powerful instruments of transformation in the lives of individuals and communities" noted O'Connell. He also served as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.
Despite his various accomplishments, O'Connell distinguished himself as a simple, down-to-earth priest with an Irish accent that he did not hide. He greatly enjoyed working with the humblest people of South Los Angeles: "It has been the great joy of my life to be the pastor of those communities, especially those suffering from poverty or other hardships."