Retired Illinois bishop dies after 70 years of priesthood

Rockford, Ill., Apr 30, 2013 / 11:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Bishop emeritus Arthur J. O'Neill of Rockford, Ill., died at his residence on April 27. The 95-year-old had recently celebrated the 70th anniversary of his priestly ordination.

The faithful will be able to visit Bishop O'Neill's body on May 2 from 4-8 p.m. at the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rockford, and the Office of the Dead will be prayed there at 7:30.

Bishop O'Neill's funeral Mass will be said the following day, May 3, at 11 a.m. by Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford.

Born Dec. 14, 1917 in East Dubuque, in the Rockford diocese, Bishop O'Neill attended seminary at St. Mary's in Baltimore. He was ordained a priest on March 27, 1943.

While a priest, Bishop O'Neill served as a pastor, editor of the diocesan paper “The Observer,” director of a men's spiritual association, the Holy Name Society, head of the diocesan commission on sacred music and as a member of the diocesan tribunal.

Bishop O'Neill was named a monsignor in 1963, and was appointed Bishop of Rockford on Aug. 19, 1968. His episcopal motto was “Ut omnes unum sint,” which means “That all may be one.” He was consecrated a bishop on Oct. 11 of that year by Archbishop Luigi Raimondi, then the apostolic delegate to the U.S.

As bishop of Rockford, he established several parishes and institutions, as well as offices for communications and Hispanic ministry. In 1976, he oversaw the sponsoring of 108 refugees from Vietnam who settled in the diocese.

Bishop O'Neill retired as bishop of Rockford in 1994, two years past the mandatory retirement age of 75. He had served as the diocesan bishop for nearly 26 years.

His family has asked that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Rockford Diocese's Stewardship Appeal.

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