Bernard O'Reilly (bishop of Hartford)

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Right Rev. Bernard O'Reilly
Bishop of Hartford
Church Roman Catholic Church
See Hartford
In office November 10, 1850—January 23, 1856
Predecessor William Tyler
Successor Francis Patrick McFarland
Ordination October 16, 1831
Consecration November 10, 1850
Personal details
Born (1803-03-01)March 1, 1803
Columkille, County Longford, Ireland
Died January 23, 1856(1856-01-23) (aged 52)
SS Pacific (sunk), Irish Sea

Bernard O'Reilly (March 1, 1803 – January 23, 1856) was an Irish-born prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Hartford from 1850 until his death in 1856.

O'Reilly was born in Columkille, County Longford, and embarked for the United States in January 1825 with the intention of studying for the priesthood.[1] He attended the Seminary of Montreal in Quebec, Canada, before completing his theological studies at St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore, Maryland.[1] His brother was the Rev. William O'Reilly, who was the pastor in the late 1840s of St. Raymond's Church (Bronx, New York) in the Archdiocese of New York, later rector of Our Lady of the Isle (Newport, Rhode Island), and eventually Vicar General of the Diocese of Hartford.[2]

He was ordained a priest by Bishop Francis Kenrick on October 13, 1831.[3] He then served in New York City and Brooklyn, where he distinguished himself for his heroism during the cholera outbreak in 1832 and twice fell victim to the disease himself.[4] He was transferred to Rochester in December 1832, and remained there until he became vicar general of the Diocese of Buffalo in 1847.[4]

On August 9, 1850, O'Reilly was appointed the second Bishop of Hartford, Connecticut, by Pope Pius IX.[3] He received his episcopal consecration on the following November 10 from Bishop John Timon, C.M., with Bishops John McCloskey and John Bernard Fitzpatrick serving as co-consecrators, at Rochester.[3] He worked to secure priests for the diocese, and defended Catholics from the anti-Catholic movements of the era, such as Know-Nothingism.[1][5] O'Reilly visited Europe in 1855 and embarked, on his return voyage, in January 1856 on the SS Pacific, which sailed from Liverpool for New York.[4] The ship, however, was not heard of for over 130 years, when in 1991 her wreckage was identified in the Irish Sea off the coast of Wales.


Preceded by
William Tyler
Bishop of Hartford
Succeeded by
Francis Patrick McFarland