It is with a profound sense of loss and sadness that we announce the recent passing on May 10 of The Rev. Dr. Bernard O’Connor. A truly dedicated scholar, expert in papal diplomacy, and a man of many and varied interests, he joined the faculty of the GTF in 1996. Appointed the John Henry Cardinal Newman Professor of Theology and Ecclesial Mediation, he was later made Fellow and, in 1999, was awarded the Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa by the GTF for “exceptional accomplishment in conflict resolution education.”
Remembered by so many as a person of great depth and infectious enthusiasm for life and learning, Fr. Bernie was perhaps most deeply interested in forging connections with students and encouraging them in their academic pursuits. Fr. Bernie was an indomitable spirit who was the recipient of many accolades during his 30+ year career as a priest and educator.
A native of Nova Scotia, Canada, Fr. Bernie was born in 1951 and educated at Saint Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1977 for the Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia, Canada. He went on to earn advanced degrees at Creighton University (M.A.), St. Paul’s University in Ottawa (M.Div.), the University of Tennessee (J.D.), the University of Ottawa (J.C.L., M.C.L.), and the Gregorian in Rome (S.T.D., S.T.L.). He served in numerous institutions of higher education, and spent 10 years, from 1994-2004 as Assistant Dean at Eastern Michigan University. Called to Rome to serve in the Congregation of Eastern Churches at the Vatican, he spent several years there before returning to the U.S. at which time he was appointed Chancellor’s Visiting Professor of Law and Humanities at Indiana University (Kokomo). Fr. Bernie served as the 2013 Runcie Lecturer in our annual Lord Robert Runcie Convocation Lecture series and joined the administration of the GTF in 2014 as Chief Counsel for Catholic Affairs to the President. He is Editor of the forthcoming 2015 volume of the annual GTF monograph, Foundation Theology: Essays for Ministry Professionals.
The many gifts our friend and colleague Fr. Bernie brought to his professional work and relationships will be long-remembered and felt for many years to come within the broader Graduate Theological Foundation community. He will be greatly missed. Please visit our recent blog post with more information about Fr. Bernie and his life.