Fr Bernard O’Connor
(1934 – 2017)
Fr Bernard O’Connor was born on 18 April 1934 in Ballymote, County Sligo, Ireland, and educated in Ballymote Boys National School and St Joseph’s College, Ballinasloe, before joining in the Columbans in St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, Navan, in 1952.
O’Connell Street, Ballymote [Wikipedia]
Fr O’Connor was ordained in St Columban’s, Dalgan Park, on 21 December 1958 and appointed to the Philippines. After language studies in Tagalog he began his many years of work in the Archdiocese of Manila. His first years were spent in Silang and Binangonan but from 1969 he was engaged in Student Catholic Action. This was a dynamic ministry of leadership-training among university students in Manila founded by Columban Fr Edward J. McCarthy in 1936. Father Barney served, mainly in Far Eastern University, during the turbulent years of Martial Law when all student organizations were suspect and many banned.
Far Eastern University, Manila [Wikipedia]
Having served as Superior in the District of Luzon he returned in 1988 to parish ministry in Our Lady of Remedies, Malate, until he was appointed to Britain in 1995. Mission Awareness and House Manager were two of the roles he carried during his thirteen years in Solihull and, as he put it, up to the last he was still seeking new veins on the coalface of British mission.
‘Spaghetti Junction’, M6, near Birmingham [Wikipedia]
Father Barney made his way through this many times while going on weekend mission appeals.
During all these years Fr Bernard suffered from poor health and he returned to Ireland to begin dialysis treatment in 2009.
Eventually he needed treatment three days every week but always tried to bounce back as quickly as possible. As one of the first Columbans to develop computer skills along with his cryptic crosswords and stamp collection he always had ways of coping with the long hours of treatment and recovery.
Father Bernard will be remembered for his droll humour, for his hope and indomitable courage, a witness to all of us on how to cope with life’s difficulties.
Irish airmail stamp (1948-65) [Wikipedia]
Fr O’Connor died suddenly on 17 September 2017. May God reward this generous and faithful missionary priest.
May he rest in peace.
‘The Hearty Boys of Ballymote’