The Reverend Monsignor Charles Borromeo Joseph O’Connor
Fifth Pastor of St. Mary
1959 – 1967
Charles was ordained as a priest of the Diocese of Raleigh by Bishop Eugene J. McGuinness on June 1, 1942. During his years as a priest, Msgr. O’Connor served in many parishes of the Diocese of Raleigh. He also spent a year at the North American College in Rome studying sacred music.
Fr. O’Connor came to St. Mary Parish as its Fifth Pastor on June 17, 1959 to succeed Msgr. Peter McNerney. Before this appointment, Fr. O’Connor had been working as the Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, NC.
Msgr. O’Connor was Pastor of St. Mary Parish from 1959 through 1967. After his pastorate at St. Mary’s, he was sent to Sacred Heart Cathedral in Raleigh. On June 8, 1969, he was named a Prelate of Honor (Monsignor) by Pope Paul VI.
While he was at St. Mary Parish, the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) took place. As a result of the Council, Msgr. O’Connor supervised the installation of the Joseph Barbieri altar in St. Mary Church so that the priest could face the congregation at Mass in accordance with the ancient Church practices. Msgr. O’Connor also bought the Florentine Eugenio Pattarino Stations-of-the-Cross for the church, and, in 1963, he had air conditioning installed in St. Mary Church.
In the Diocese of Raleigh, Msgr. O’Connor worked with world mission activities and chaired organizations such as the Catholic Historical Society of North Carolina. Now defunct, this non-profit began the movement for restoring Wilmington’s first Roman Catholic Church, presently called St. Thomas Preservation Hall, at 208 Dock Street.
Msgr. O’Connor was Pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Fayetteville, NC when he died on New Year’s Day, 1976. Bishop F. Joseph Gossman of the Diocese of Raleigh celebrated the Mass of the Resurrection for Msgr. O’Connor. Msgr. O’Connor was buried in Lafayette Memorial Park in Fayetteville, NC.