Mourners pray for therapeutic, forgiveness amid shock of bishop’s homicide

HACIENDA HEIGHTS, Calif. (OSV Information) — The group of individuals praying within the car parking zone of St. John Vianney Church within the Los Angeles suburb of Hacienda Heights late Feb. 20 — mother and father with their kids, parishioners getting off of labor, and even some stray youngsters — appeared to broaden with every joyful thriller of the rosary.

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles was one in all them. After showing that afternoon alongside Los Angeles County Sheriff Robert Luna at a press convention, he made an unannounced go to to the suburban parish to hope with a neighborhood nonetheless in shock over the homicide of their neighbor, Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell.

Some on the vigil held candles whereas they prayed. Others held one another.

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez, then vice chairman of the U.S. Convention of Catholic Bishops, share a lightweight second Nov. 12, 2019, after Archbishop Gomez was elected USCCB president in the course of the bishops’ fall normal meeting in Baltimore. (OSV Information picture/CNS file, Bob Curler)

“We imagine that Bishop Dave has acquired his recompense for his life and his ministry,” Archbishop Gomez advised the grieving crowd after main them in a recitation of the rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet. “We all know that he’s in heaven. Allow us to ask for his intercession, as a result of he’ll proceed to remain very near us, simply as he stayed near so many individuals throughout his life.”

About 150 folks confirmed up for the temporary prayer service held in entrance of a small out of doors shrine to Our Woman of Guadalupe. It was the second evening of a novena for Bishop O’Connell organized by parishioners and members of the native Knights of Columbus chapter.

However a lot had modified within the 24 hours for the reason that mourners had final seen each other. That afternoon, the LA Sheriff’s Division had introduced the arrest of the husband of O’Connell’s housekeeper, 61-year-old Carlos Medina, within the bishop’s taking pictures demise following a fast-moving investigation aided by surveillance video and a pair of citizen ideas.

“Though I personally didn’t know the bishop, I can not let you know what number of cellphone calls I’ve acquired during the last 48 hours of people that have labored with him in several capacities,” stated Sheriff Luna at a Monday press convention on the LA County Corridor of Justice in downtown LA. “And this man, this bishop, made an enormous distinction in our neighborhood. He was cherished.”

The evening earlier than, the vigil came about in entrance of the house the place Bishop O’Connell lived — and died — on Janlu Avenue a couple of homes away from St. John Vianney.

“I believe I’m nonetheless in shock, I actually am,” stated Wayne Morales, who knew Bishop O’Connell by his involvement with the Catholic Males’s Fellowship of California. O’Connell was the group’s religious adviser and was scheduled to talk to them at an upcoming occasion.

“I’ve been a bit emotional as a result of I simply don’t know the best way to deal with this information. The person, in my eyes, was essentially the most peaceable and loving particular person. Why? I simply don’t perceive,” Morales advised Angelus Information, the archdiocese’s on-line information outlet.

The style of Bishop O’Connell’s demise solely added to the sorrow and shock. Pushed by her ache, younger mom Lupe Carrere bundled up her son and drove to the Sunday evening vigil website Feb. 19. She may barely speak as she was so taken with emotion.

“I felt compelled to come back,” stated Carrere, a parishioner of St. Bernard Church in Bellflower. “Simply the best way he died … nobody deserves to die that manner.”

Excessive-schooler Sharon Gonzalez got here along with her mom that evening to pay her respects to the bishop she altar-served for during the last six years.

“Bishop was somebody very particular to me,” stated Gonzalez. “Earlier than each Mass, we (altar servers) can be tremendous nervous as a result of he’s the bishop. He would say, ‘Don’t be nervous, it’s simply me.! … He was tremendous humble.”

Others within the crowd remembered his heat. Dani Belcamacaro knelt earlier than the picture of Bishop O’Connell on the makeshift memorial with a bouquet of flowers, then shared an embrace along with her sister, Mary.

“He made you’re feeling like household, he made you’re feeling like he knew you,” stated Belcamacaro of St. Joseph Church in La Puente. “It’s essential to be right here as a result of he meant quite a bit to us.”

“He’s all the time simply had the largest smile,” stated Catherine De Jesus, from St. Lorenzo Ruiz Church in Walnut, on the Monday evening vigil Feb. 20. She fought again tears as she remembered how she obtained to know him from the occasions he visited the parish to have fun Mass: “He was by no means afraid to simply stroll the streets and assist the helpless.”

Knights of Columbus member Fred Pacheco remembered when the bishop got here to his parish, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, and blessed its backyard. He couldn’t imagine that somebody wished to kill a person like Bishop O’Connell.

“There’s simply insanity on this world proper now,” lamented Pacheco. “There are such a lot of questions. I hate to attract conclusions. I simply wish to pay my respects and pray for his soul.”

Leaders of the Knights of Columbus stated their religion and Bishop O’Connell’s personal phrases are carrying them by this tough time.

“He (Bishop O’Connell) wouldn’t need us to hate. He stated you must pray, you must forgive,” stated Larry Dietz, vice chairman of the Knight’s San Gabriel Valley chapter. “As a Catholic household, we’ve obtained to get stronger and that’s why we got here out tonight. … We’re going to persevere.”

Pablo Kay is editor-in-chief of Angelus, the information outlet of the Archdiocese of Los Angelus. Natalie Romano additionally writes for Angelus.

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