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Richard James O'Connor was one of seven children of John O'Connor and Elizabeth Ann Cooke. His mother taught him the German language. O'Connor attended St. Bonaventure College in Allegany, New York. On 19 August 1929 he entered the Franciscan Order in Patterson, New York, making his temporal vows in 1930 and his solemn vows in 1933. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees at St. Bonaventure University. On 12 June 1934 he was ordained a priest, taking the name "Sixtus". From 1934 he also studied philosophy in Germany at the universities of Munich and Bonn, until the Second World War forced him to return to the US. From 1939 to 1943, he held a job as a special professor of philosophy at Siena College in Loudonville, New York. In 1943, he was military chaplain for the 11th Armored Division of the 3rd Army under General George S. Patton. Later in the war, he served the 1st Infantry in the same function.
After the Second World War, O'Connor was charged, together with Lutheran minister Henry F. Gerecke, with the pastoral care of the prisoners of the Nuremberg War Crimes Trial, because he spoke fluent German owing to his years of study in Germany. Father O'Connor mastered his heavy duties in clever and sensitive ways to everyone's satisfaction[neutrality is disputed]. Several prisoners converted under the influence of Fr. Sixtus to a deeper Catholic faith (most famous example: Hans Frank). On 16 October 1946 he assisted as Chaplain at the execution of 10 War Criminals.
O'Connor returned to St. Bonaventure College after this job and taught philosophy and German there from 1947 to 1950. The following year he was a guardian and taught philosophy at St. Stephens Seminary in Croghan, NY. Finally, from 1953 he was a professor at Siena College in New York. There he was, from 1963/1964 chairman of the philosophy department and from 1956 to 1964 vice president of the college. He was vicar of the Franciscan monastery. In his religious life, he first bore the name Sixtus O'Connor (as during the Nuremberg Trials) and later, since 1968, Richard J. O'Connor. He had left nothing in writing about his activities in Nuremberg. Father O'Connor died on 10 July 1983 in New Siena monastery, New York, and was buried at St. Agnes Cemetery, Menands, New York.
- Catholic Philosophy Association
- Society of Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
- ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) Scholarship Committee
- O'Connor, Sixtus, Monthly Report, Nov 1, 1946 Monthly Reports and Personnel Files, 1920-1950 RG 247, Records of the Office of the Chief of Chaplains 1902-1964, National Archives at St. Louis
- Obituary, hnp.org; accessed August 27, 2016.
- ↑ For the U.S. side: Prison Commandant Burten C. Andrus cited in: William J. Hourihan: U.S. Army Chaplain Ministry to German War Criminals at Nuremberg, 1945-1946. Online, pg. 6 (PDF; 151 kB)
- ↑ For the German side: Prison inmate F.X. Schwarz (former Nazi treasurer), cited in John E. Dolibois: Pattern of Circles: An Ambassador's Story. p. 167.
- St. Bonaventure faculty list[permanent dead link], sbu.edu; accessed August 27, 2016.