1928 – 2017 (June 19)
Joseph Xavier O’Connor was born on May 26, 1928, in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the son of John E. O’Connor and Elizabeth O’Connor. He had two brothers and five sisters, and was baptized on June 4, 1928, at Saint Mary’s Church, Lawrence. He attended Saint Laurence O’Toole Parish School and Central Catholic High School, Lawrence. He was accepted as a postulant at Augustinian Academy, Staten Island and entered the Order on September 9, 1946. Following a year at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, New York, he professed simple vows on September 10, 1947, and attended Villanova College from 1947 to 1950, where he received his BA in Philosophy. He pursued theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, and obtained an MA in Religious Education at the Catholic University of America. He professed solemn vows on September 10, 1950 and was ordained to the priesthood at Augustinian College on December 21, 1953, by Archbishop Patrick O’Boyle.
Father O’Connor was assigned in 1954 to Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, D.C. He volunteered for the recently-founded mission in Japan and sailed on September 6, 1958. From 1958 to 1960, he was assigned to Our Mother of Consolation Friary, Nagasaki, while attending Japanese Language School in Tokyo. From 1960 to 1963 he ministered in the Nagasaki parish, and in 1963 was assigned to the parish of Saint Augustine, Fukuoka, as pastor and superior, as well as novice master for Brother Joseph Akakura. During his years in Japan, Father O’Connor served as a judge in the beatification process of Father Maximilian Kolbe.
In 1974, Father O’Connor returned to the United States and to Lawrence, Massachusetts, where he served at Saint Mary Parish and, from August to December 1977, as Administrator of Saint Augustine Parish. From 1977 to 1988, he was assigned to Resurrection of Our Lord Parish, Dania, Florida, as pastor from 1978 to 1986. In 1988 he returned to Saint Augustine Parish, Lawrence. In the summer of 1988 he participated in Clinical Pastoral Education for hospital chaplaincy. From 1990 to 1991 he was pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, Hoosick Falls, New York, and in that latter year was assigned to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Atlantic City, New Jersey, the last Augustinian pastor of that parish. From 1996 to 2007, Father was stationed at Our Mother of Good Counsel Monastery, Merrimack College, and then at Austin House, North Andover, Massachusetts. In 2007 he was assigned to Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish, Staten Island, New York and served there until 2010. In April 2010, Father Joe was assigned to Saint Thomas of Villanova Monastery, Villanova, Pennsylvania.
Father O’Connor died on Monday morning, June 19, 2017, at Bryn Mawr Hospital after several hours of recovery there. Up until the very end of his life he maintained a quick wit and delighted in entertaining friars and nursing staff of the monastery with his poetry and singing. Despite suffering the effects of limited dementia, he preserved a good memory at 90 years of age, together with a refreshing sense of humor.
A Memorial Mass was offered by Prior Provincial Michael Di Gregorio, O.S.A. at the Villanova Monastery Chapel on the evening of June 21, 2017. The following day, his body was taken to Lawrence, Massachusetts where a wake and Funeral Mass were offered at Saint Mary’s Church on Friday, June 23, 2017. Burial followed in the Augustinian Plot of Saint Mary’s Cemetery.