Bishop Stuart O’Connell R.I.P


The emeritus bishop of Rarotonga, Stuart O’Connell, died in Auckland on Friday at the Little Sisters of the Poor, St Joseph’s Home, Herne Bay.

He had been ill with cancer for some time.

Pope John Paul II appointed O’Connell to be the bishop of Rarotonga in November 1996.

He was ordained bishop on February 22 in St Joseph’s Cathedral, Avarua.

His predecessor, Robin Leamy, was the consecrating bishop.

Archbishop of Wellington Cardinal Thomas Williams and Bishop of Tonga John Foliaki assisted him.

O’Connell was born in 1935. He was professed in the Society of Mary in 1956 and ordained a priest in July 1960.

Before becoming the bishop of Rarotonga, O’Connell pursued varied ministries that included secondary school teaching in New Zealand and the Pacific, in priestly formation and in leadership in the Society of Mary.

He taught at Chanel College in Samoa from 1966 to 1969.

He returned there as Rector from 1976 until 1982.

For two years he was involved in priestly formation at the Society of Mary Seminary in Greenmeadows.

From 1985 until his episcopal appointment he was part of the leadership team in the New Zealand Province of the Society of Mary.

He was at various times during this period councillor, vicar provincial and provincial bursar.

In 1991 O’Connell was elected provincial of the New Zealand province, a post he held until his episcopal appointment.

After he resigned as the bishop of Rarotonga in 2011, O’Connell lived in retirement in Auckland and assisted Bishop Patrick Dunn.

A vigil mass will be celebrated at Christ the King Church, Owairaka, 260 Richardson Rd, Auckland at 7.00pm on Thursday 8th August.

Bishop Paul Donoghue, the present bishop of Rarotonga, will be the principal celebrant.

Requiem Mass will be celebrated in the same church at 11.30am on Friday 9th August. Bishop Denis Browne will be the principal celebrant.

Burial will be at St Patrick’s Church Cemetery, Panmure.


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News category: New Zealand.

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