June 10, 2022

Meet our future deacons

James O’Connell

James O’ConnellName: James O’Connell
Age: 69
Wife: Louise O’Connell
Home Parish: Our Lord Jesus Christ the King Parish in Paoli
Occupation: Retired Paoli Community Schools guidance counselor

Who are the important role models in your life of faith?

The important role models of faith in my life are my deceased parents, Benedictine Father Eugene Hensell and the late Benedictine Father Paschal Boland, both of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, and Pope Francis.

What are your favorite Scripture verses, saints, prayers and devotions?

I have three favorite Scripture verses: “I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends” (Jn 15:15); “You belong to God, children, and you have conquered them, for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 Jn 4:14); “The Lord himself will fight for you; you only have to keep still” (Ex 14:14). My favorite saints are St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Theodora Guérin and St. Francis of Assisi. My favorite prayer is: “Lord, lead me to it, but help me through it.” I learned this from a nursing home patient. My favorite devotion is the Jesuit “Daily Examen,” which is an examination of conscience.

Deacons often minister, formally or informally, to others in the workplace. How have you experienced that already and what do you anticipate doing in the future?

I have been working at a hospital as a chaplain for a number of years, and I will continue to do so in the future. There are so many opportunities to pray with people in their best and worst moments.

Why do you feel that God is calling you to become a deacon?

I feel God has called me to a life of service. The deacon’s lifestyle is one of service, especially to those on the margins. Pope Francis said it best in these words: “These two terms—Apostle and servant—go together. They are like two sides of a medal. Those who proclaim Jesus are called to serve, and those who serve proclaim Jesus.”

How will being ordained a deacon have an impact on your life and family?

I think it will validate and strengthen me to keep serving and reminding me that “as the master goes so must the disciple.” The family is the school for learning to wash one another’s feet.

How do you hope to serve through your life and ministry as a deacon?

I hope to serve by imitating Jesus who reminds us that: “He was called to serve and not to be served” (Mk 10:45). I hope to rekindle the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the universal call to holiness and to continue to read the signs of the times and to smell like the sheep. I hope to build a field hospital in the secular world for those with authentic needs. †

Local site Links: