David M. O'Connell

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His Excellency, The Most Reverend
David Michael O'Connell
Bishop of Trenton
Archdiocese Newark
Diocese Trenton
Appointed June 4, 2010
Installed December 1, 2010
Predecessor John Mortimer Smith
Ordination May 29, 1982
by Bishop Joseph Mark McShea
Consecration July 30, 2010
by Bishop John Mortimer Smith, John J. Myers, and Donald Wuerl
Personal details
Born (1955-04-21) April 21, 1955 (age 62)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Residence Trenton, New Jersey, United States
Parents Arthur J. and June O'Connell
Previous post President of The Catholic University of America (1998–2010)
Alma mater Niagara University (M.A.); Mary Immaculate Seminary (M.Div. and M.Th.); The Catholic University of America (J.C.L. and J.C.D.)
(To serve and not to be served)
Styles of
David Michael O'Connell
Coat of arms of David Michael O'Connell.svg
Reference style
Spoken style Your Excellency
Religious style Bishop

David Michael O'Connell, C.M., (born April 21, 1955) is a member of the Congregation of the Mission, commonly called the Vincentian Fathers, and a past President of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.. He is currently the Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey, in the United States.


Early life and education[edit]

O'Connell was born in Philadelphia, one of the four sons of Arthur J. and June O'Connell. He was raised in nearby Langhorne, Pennsylvania.[1] Feeling drawn at an early age to the Catholic priesthood, he attended the Vincentian minor seminary, St. Joseph Preparatory High School, in Princeton, New Jersey, and later received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, in 1978. He then studied at Mary Immaculate Seminary in Northampton, Pennsylvania, where he earned a Master of Divinity degree (1981) and a Master of Theology degree in Moral Theology (1983).[2]

Ordination and ministry[edit]

O'Connell was ordained a priest of the Congregation of the Mission by Joseph McShea, Bishop of Allentown, on May 29, 1982, in the chapel of the seminary.[2] His first assignment was as a teacher at Archbishop Wood Catholic High School in Warminster, Pennsylvania, where he also served as Director of Student Activities from 1983 to 1985. He continued his studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., receiving a Licentiate of Canon Law in 1987. From 1987 to 1990, he was registrar and an assistant professor of canon law, theology, and philosophy at Mary Immaculate Seminary. He earned a doctorate in canon law from the Catholic University in 1990. He also served as an ecclesiastical judge and canonical consultant to the Diocese of Harrisburg (1987–98), Diocese of Birmingham (1987–93), and Diocese of Scranton (1988–98).[2]

Between 1990 and 1998, O'Connell served at St. John's University in New York City in various capacities. He was associate dean (1990–91) before serving as professor of theology and religious studies, academic dean, and dean of faculty (1991–98).[2] He was also associate vice president from 1995 to 1998, and assistant legal counsel from 1996 to 1998. From 1994 to 1998, he served as Acting Vice President and Dean of Niagara University.

President of The Catholic University of America[edit]

He was the 14th President of The Catholic University of America from 1998 until 2010. He also became a Consultor to the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education in 2005 and was appointed as John Joseph Keane University Professor of the university in 2006.

According to CUA, "He has been a nationally recognized spokesperson for and supporter of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and its full implementation within the Catholic academy." Under O'Connell's tenure, CUA remains under censure by the American Association of University Professors, and O'Connell has not sought to remove this sanction.

In 1998 senior members of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States needed to address new requirements from the Vatican for higher education and a requirement that educators take an oath of fidelity to these teachings. Although many opposed the oath, O'Connell took the oath on the final day of the conference.[3]

On October 2, 2009 O'Connell announced that he was stepping down as President of the University in August 2010. On June 4, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI named him coadjutor bishop of the Diocese of Trenton.

Bishop of Trenton, New Jersey[edit]

On June 4, 2010, O'Connell was appointed Coadjutor Bishop of the Diocese of Trenton by Pope Benedict XVI.[2] O'Connell received his episcopal consecration on July 30 from Bishop John Mortimer Smith, the Bishop of Trenton, with Archbishops John Joseph Myers and Donald Wuerl serving as co-consecrators, at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption in Trenton.[4] He chose as his episcopal motto: Ministrare non ministrari, meaning, "To serve and not to be served" (Mark 10:45).[1]

As coadjutor bishop, O'Connell automatically succeeded Smith on December 1, 2010, when the Pope accepted the resignation he had already tendered, after reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Pope Appoints CUA President as Bishop". The Catholic University of America. June 4, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "VERY REVEREND DAVID M. O'CONNELL, C.M., J.C.D." (PDF). Roman Catholic Diocese of Trenton. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 13, 2010. 
  3. ^ http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-53460466.html Retrieved August 27, 2009.
  4. ^ "Outgoing Catholic University president to become coadjutor of Trenton". Catholic News Service. June 4, 2010. Archived from the original on June 8, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Episcopal succession[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Br Patrick Ellis FSC
Logo of The Catholic University of America 2c.svg
President of CUA

Succeeded by
John H. Garvey
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
John Mortimer Smith
Bishop of Trenton