Monday, June 10, 2013

Rest in Peace, Father Tim, The Man Who Brought Us Back to the Church

Tonight a friend of ours from our newspapering days in North Carolina, a man who attended our wedding and now is a Catholic deacon in Belmont, NC, let me know Father Tim had died. He was 66.

Father Tim, at the time of his death, Monsignor Tim O'Connor, married Greg and me. He was the priest whose homilies we heard as we both headed back to the Catholic church after nearly a decade of infrequent Mass attendence and indifference. For that - for him -  I am forever grateful.

Is it just my husband and me? We have found certain priests to play a pivotal role in our spiritual development at key points in our lives. Father Tim was the first such priest. When we were single in the early 1990s Greg and I began attending Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina. Father Tim, the rector, preached the noon Mass, a Mass with an African-American liturgy. He managed to bring us back to the Church with his welcoming presence. He was the first priest I ever heard use the word "gay" in a homily. Born in Queens in a family of five brothers, Father Tim was the nephew of the late  John Cardinal O'Connor,  a fact we only discovered when my mother-in-law quizzed him at our wedding rehearsal.

He gently guided Greg and me through a long Pre-Cana meeting in his office, helping us to set priorities and navigate a minefield of extended family dynamics. Father Tim married us on September 25, 1993 in a church that regularly had at least three weddings each weekend. (The cathedral, which barely seats 350, is the smallest in the continental United States; the diocese is growing so quickly it is building a new cathedral west of downtown.)

Here is Father Tim's obituary. Perhaps he now is enjoying a cup of tea and a long conversation with his beloved uncle. May our Church be blessed with more souls like theirs. And may these faithful souls, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.


  1. May he rest in peace. Lovely wedding photo!

  2. too early to go. admired him at Sacred Heart Cathedral and St. Michael's. what was the cause of death?

  3. I adored Msgr. Tim during his time at Our Lady of Lourdes. His homilies were extraordinary, and his preaching style was so personal, really reaching out to the congregation. My daughter & her classmates at the OLL school were fond of him, and he seemed to be a natural with them, so approachable. For their First Communion, Msgr. Tim gave all 2nd graders handmade wooden crucifixes, but these were especially unique. He'd carried the rosaries in his pockets at the viewing of Pope John Paul II, for he'd passed away not long before their Communion service. Msgr. Tim included with each rosary gift a card detailing it's special journey. To be thinking ahead of the children, and at such a time, what an amazing man! Msgr. Tim had advised my RCIA group, and each of us individually. He shared his appreciation for Christian/Catholic art, which I'd long enjoyed as well. He inspired me in my Faith with his enthusiasm. I was grateful for his time, his kindness, his humor, the pure joy he expressed when lifting up baptized babies for all to see as he presented them to each section(!)...all treasured gifts. Msgr. Tim will surely be missed here in NC, but Our Lord has another angel. ~Shelle

  4. Some priests have been a real blessing to me at certain times in my life; some I've recognized at the time; others only in retrospect. Thank God for all our holy priests and my he grant Fr. Tim eternal rest.