BRIGHTON -- The Boston Archdiocese’s metropolitan tribunal, the local Church court which deals with canonical issues, will have a new leader when Father Mark O’Connell assumes his new responsibilities as judicial vicar Sept. 1.
A native of Scarborough, Ontario, he is the youngest of the four children of Thomas and Margaret (Delaney) O’Connell, who live in Milton. His brother Thomas lives in Jamaica Plain; his sister Margaret Mary, in Allston and his brother John and his wife Joanne and their four children live in Medfield.
Father O’Connell’s uncle, Father David Delaney, a well-known and well-liked priest of the archdiocese died a few years ago. His aunt, Sister Jean Delaney, OP lives in North Reading.
Father O’Connell was born in Canada, where his father had accepted a job as a founding librarian at the then New York University. He attended St. Gabriel School in Willowdale, Ontario and when the family returned to the United States he attended Dover-Sherborn High School, graduating in 1982.
An alumnus of Boston College’s class of 1986 he was granted a bachelor’s degree in 1986 majoring in philosophy and English. He was accepted at St. John’s Seminary for theology studies and Cardinal Bernard Law ordained him to the priesthood at Holy Cross Cathedral on June 16, 1990.
His first assignment as a parochial vicar was at St. Barbara Parish, Woburn and in June 1995 he was named parochial vicar at St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish, Danvers with additional responsibilities for campus ministry at nearby Salem State College.
Just two years later he was assigned to graduate studies in the field of canon law at the University of the Holy Cross in Rome and in 2002 he was granted the doctorate in canon law (JCD) completing his course of studies with a dissertation about the history of priests changing dioceses and particular focus on a unique canonical issue called “automatic incardination.”
Asked about other interests Father O’Connell mentioned that in his spare time he likes to golf, read and spend time with his family and friends.
He points out that there have been notable influences on his life and vocation beginning with his greatest support -- his family. Not surprisingly, priests and religious figure into his list of mentors: his late uncle, Father Dave Delaney; the late Father Neil Heery; pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Newton, Father John Connelly; pastor or Norwood’s St. Catherine Parish, Msgr. Connie McRae and the two pastors with whom he served, Father Vin Mellone at St. Barbara Parish, Woburn and Father Gerard Dorgan, St. Mary Parish, Danvers.
He also noted that the has been especially blessed in the examples of women religious;the Kentucky Dominican Sisters, the religious community of his aunt, Sister Jean Delaney, OP; the Daughters of St. Paul, the Missionaries of Charity and the Carmelites.
In his new role Father O’Connell will assume the responsibility of running the day to day operation of the archdiocese’s chief court and dealing with canonical legal cases, especially those involving marriages submitted to the tribunal for study.
A capable canonical and support staff will ably assist him. All are presently housed at the tribunal’s offices in West Roxbury.
In addition to several archdiocesan boards and commissions to which he is assigned, Father O’Connell will also serve as a vice chancellor with responsibility for issuing dispensations and for notarizing ecclesiastical documents.
Regarding his appointment Father O’Connell said “I am grateful to the cardinal for his confidence that I can fulfill this task. I went to the chancery as a canon lawyer in very challenging times and I am proud to say that I have worked with others to help repair many problems. This new job brings new challenges but Father Mark Mahoney has left me with a very competent staff to work with -- I am eager to see what God has in store for me here.”