Local News Archive
Print Issue: February 9, 1984
Cancer Home Chaplain, Father Patrick Connell Dies
By Msgr. Noel Burtenshaw
Father Patrick Clair Connell, Chaplain of Atlantas Cancer Home, died on Sunday, February 5. He was 70.
Father Pat, as he was widely known, had been Chaplain at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home for 22 years. For some months he had been ill with cancer.
During the week before his death, Father Pat was visited by many of the priests of the Archdiocese and by Archbishop Donnellan.
It was beautiful to catch the last moments of his life, said Sister Rosalie, supervisor of the Cancer Home. He had suffered greatly. It was a wonderful experience for all the staff here at the hospital to see his beautiful acceptance of his pain. His acceptance was really extraordinary.
On Sunday, Father Richard Lopez, who is assistant chaplain at the home, was with Father Pat most of the day. We said the rosary many times, said Sister Rosalie, and the prayers for the dying. Father Lopez went to St. Judes parish to give a talk in the evening. At 7:30 p.m. it was obvious Father Pat was dying. All the Sisters, there are nine of us, gathered at his bed. We were happy to be with him when he died.
Father Connell was born in Rochester, New York on May 15, 1913. He was an only child. Ordained in Rochester in 1939, he served in that city in many different parishes until he came to Georgia 1946.
In Georgia, Father Pat served in St. Patricks in Augusta, St. Marys in Rome and St. Peters in LaGrange. In October 1961 he was assigned to the Cancer Home where his loving apostolate to the sick and dying became a watchword.
He was always available, said Sister Rosalie. He was there the instant he was needed. The families of the patients leaned on him in much of their grief. And when eventually he could not visit his patients, it was so marvelous to see them go and seek him out on his bed of sickness.
Sister Rosalie said that his outreach and gentleness with the staff of the Cancer Home will long be remembered. Many of them sent to see him for the last time on the Friday before he died. They were heartbroken.
Father Connell went to St. Josephs Hospital in November 1983 when he broke his hip. The disease caused the break, said Sister Rosalie. When he returned in December, it was obvious it would only be a short time. Every time he was moved in the bed, his suffering was very great. But he never complained. His acceptance, his good humor and his stream of jokes were ever present.
The office of the dead was said by the priests in the Cancer Home on Monday evening. Mass of the Resurrection was concelebrated by Archbishop Donnellan and the priests of the Archdiocese on Tuesday morning in Sacred Heart Church.
Burial took place in the priests section of Arlington Cemetery.