OBITUARY: by Fr Peter JosephNews Weekly
Bob O'Connell (August 29, 1922 - July 30, 2008), a generous man of integrity
, August 30, 2008
Fr Peter Joseph pays tribute to the late Bob O'Connell, a former NSW president of the National Civic Council.
Mr Bob O'Connell enjoyed a long life; a happy marriage of 62 years with Norma, whom he met when serving with the RAAF during World War II; and the blessing of eight children, whom he and Norma reared conscientiously and lovingly.
He was remarkably calm about his own death - because of his strong Christian faith. He knew that death is the door unto eternity.
He was strong in his Catholic faith and proud of his faith. But he didn't go about it with lots of words: he had a practical faith, showing his love of God and people through good deeds.
From his earliest adult years, Bob O'Connell had a very strong commitment to Catholic social doctrine. This found expression through his work for the Catholic Social Studies Movement - the Movement - founded on August 14, 1941, by a small group, including Bob Santamaria, H.M. Cremean and others.
Here I should mention the great love and appreciation Bob Santamaria had for Bob O'Connell, his close colleague and friend.
We know how Melbourne's Archbishop Daniel Mannix supported that work.
In 1957, the Movement became the National Civic Council, and for 25 years Bob O'Connell was its NSW state president. He was renowned for the formidable organisational skills and intelligence that he brought to his work.
Those who knew Bob remember what a gentle, self-effacing and considerate man he was. He showed respect for everyone, and listened to them and to what they had to say, no matter how young or inexperienced they were. He was manly and generous and a man of integrity.
He was active in the Church in big and little ways. He assisted in the foundation of Tangara School and Redfield College, attended by some of his grandchildren. And he was no less active in humble ways: for many years after his retirement he cleaned the toilets in the church hall here at St Ives parish every Saturday morning.
He endured many illnesses in the final years of his life, always without complaint. Even in his last days, he was asking about the welfare of family members and other people he knew, and was praying for their needs.Encouragement
His own family knows what a great father and husband he was. He was a man of prayer, a man of charity, of trust in God - always lifting souls up with his words of faith and encouragement, and his sturdy and robust character.
Tall in stature, he was equally big in heart and spirit. He was consulted by people in private about their personal affairs. They knew he was a wise and discreet man to whom they could talk in trust and receive helpful advice.
Bob's life was one of good deeds.- This is part of a homily which Father Peter Joseph gave at the funeral of Bob O'Connell at Corpus Christi Church, St Ives, Sydney, on August 5, 2008.