Rev. Msgr. Richard Joseph O’Donnell passed away on Monday, April 11, 2016. Msgr. O’Donnell was the Pastor Emeritus of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Chicago, now Blessed Sacrament Parish and remained a resident there until his passing. He was 105 years old and the oldest Archdiocesan priest, just a few weeks short of celebrating his 81st anniversary of priesthood.
Msgr. O’Donnell was born in Chicago on October 15, 1910. He attended St. Bridget and St. Basil Schools in Chicago, Quigley Preparatory Seminary and graduated from the University of St. Mary of the Lake / Mundelein Seminary. Msgr. O’Donnell was ordained into the priesthood on April 27, 1935, by George Cardinal Mundelein, Archbishop of Chicago.
Msgr. O’Donnell served as Assistant Pastor at St. Gabriel Parish in Chicago (1935-41); Our Lady of Peace Parish on Jeffery Boulevard (1941-48); St. Bernadette Parish in Evergreen Park (1948-50); and St. Ita Parish in Chicago (1950-63). In 1963, Msgr. O’Donnell was named Pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish on Hermitage Avenue, and served in that capacity until his retirement in 1981, when he was named Pastor Emeritus. The parish was closed in 2008 and is now Blessed Sacrament Parish.
He received the title “Monsignor” when he was named one of the Prelates of Honor of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, in 2010.
An avid baseball fan, in an interview with the Catholic New World in 2010, Msgr. O’Donnell reflected, “‘I’ve been a White Sox fan since I was a little boy and followed them all my life. My favorite player was second baseman Nellie Fox.’ O’Donnell threw out ceremonial first pitches at White Sox games in 2001 and 2009.”
In the same interview, he also offered advice to all young, busy pastors, “Do what Cardinal Bernardin did. He was busy too. He got up an hour early to get his prayers in. Prayer, whenever they say it, is very important. That’s how the priest will get along — by prayer. It’s a support, because you’re not all alone, you have God to help you.”*
Msgr. O’Donnell is survived by a nephew, Richard Fitzpatrick.