Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 5, 1978
Man Of The Year
To say he is retired is a joke. Let us simply say that he qualifies, vintage-wise, as a retired priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta. His work never ceases as he tirelessly hunts down workers for the Lord's vineyard in North Georgia.
He has 25 years of special golden labor behind him. Much of his personal priestly duties took him out of his native state of Georgia. But Georgia was always on his mind during those years. He marked the life of the home church with missionaries he first influenced and then sent south. Bishops fidgeted nervously when the Georgia Monsignor hit town. Billy the Kid fashion, he would pry open their vocation banks for the needs of an infant Church in Dixie.
When the crop tended to dry up stateside, he saw no problem in coolly invading the shores of his forefathers in Ireland. The pickings were great for this master of persuasion. A new field opened to his talents and Irish vocations flowed.
We believe he is our Man of the Year, not for past historical conquests. 1977 saw him again attempting his missionary journey, never too easy, in the cutting winds and biting rains of an Irish autumn. Again, he brought news of glad success. Six more young men have been placed in Irish seminaries, training under the name of Atlanta, Georgia. Apart from his history of blessed success, this year's feat stands as a monument.
Patrick Joseph O'Connor was born in Savannah on January 23, 1902. After attending Catholic schools in his native city, he studied for the priesthood in St. Mary's Seminary in Baltimore. He was ordained in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Savannah, on May 25, 1933. After serving as a parish priest, he was assigned to the faculty of the Catholic University in Washington, DC. He served in many faculty offices and became well known for his work in the Preachers Institute.
In 1950, the bishops of the United States appointed him director of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which was still in the process of being built.
He returned to his native state in 1956 to become pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in downtown Atlanta. In 1958, he was appointed chief of Catholic education for Atlanta with the title, Secretary for Education. In 1967, Monsignor O'Connor retired.
Through all these years and assignments, his mission to pass along the vocation he received, never was neglected. Over 35 priests in the Atlanta and Savannah Dioceses can be counted as "his men." And the work goes on. No idealistic mother's son is safe when the Monsignor's eye is cast his way.
1977 was just another year for Monsignor O'Connor, but because of his work and the technique blessed by God in him, the Church is Georgia is richer.
With prayerful good wishes, we send to him our title, Man of the Year.
Monsignor Patrick Joseph O'Connor, priest, Georgian, vocation director.