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Stuart France O'Connell (11 May 1935 – 2 August 2019) was the fifth Catholic Bishop of Rarotonga (1996–2011).

Stuart O'Connell
5th Bishop of Rarotonga
Installed22 February 1996
Term endedApril 2011
PredecessorRobin Leamy
SuccessorPaul Donoghue
Personal details
Birth nameStuart France O'Connell
Born(1935-05-11)11 May 1935
Lower Hutt, New Zealand
Died2 August 2019(2019-08-02) (aged 84)
Auckland, New Zealand
DenominationRoman Catholic Church


Early lifeEdit

O'Connell was born on 11 May 1935 in Lower Hutt. He completed his education at St. Patrick's College, Silverstream in 1953 and in 1954 entered Mount St Mary’s Seminary. He was professed as a member of the Society of Mary on 11 February 1956, at Mt St Mary's Seminary, Greenmeadows where his final profession took place in February 1959 and he was ordained a subdeacon in December 1959.[1]


O'Connell was ordained to the deaconate in February 1960 and the priesthood at Saints Peter and Paul Church, Lower Hutt on 27 July 1960.[1] After five years of teaching in New Zealand he was sent to Chanel College, Moamoa, Samoa, in 1966 as a teacher and spiritual director. After another period teaching and studying in New Zealand, he returned, in 1975, to Chanel College as Rector and remained there until 1982.[1]

In 1983 and 1984 he studied at the Catholic University of America where he completed his MA. From 1985 to 1986, he taught at Mount St Mary’s Seminary, Greenmeadows. From 1986 to 1991, he was Vicar Provincial, and from 1992 to 1996 he was Provincial of the New Zealand Province of the Society of Mary.[1]


On 8 November 1995, O'Connell was appointed the Bishop of Rarotonga and was consecrated by Bishop Leamy SM, Cardinal Williams and Bishop Soane Lilo Foliaki SM, Bishop of Tonga in St Joseph's Cathedral, Avarua on 22 February 1996.[citation needed]

In the face of a growing Roman Catholic population (by 2011 in excess of 3,000 in a total population of about 20,000 – mainly due to immigration from the Philippines and Fiji) and with a complement of only seven priests (five on Rarotonga at Avarua, Matavera, Titikaveka and Arorangi and one each on Aitutaki, Atiu, and Mauke (islands).[2]

He was able to obtain priests from overseas and to augment the number of local-born priests. He was able to keep the Catholic schools, Nukutere College, Saint Mary's School, Mauke Island and St Joseph's School, Avarua, operating, undertaking major refurbishments in the schools. During his tenure teacher pay parity was achieved for teachers in those schools so that the Cook Islands Government paid them at the same rates as their counterparts in other schools. O'Connell retired in April 2011.[1]

O'Connell died in Auckland on 2 August 2019.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e Martin Tiffany, "A Life well spent", Cook Islands News, 31 July 2010 (retrieved 18 February 2011)
  2. ^ "Migrants grow Catholic numbers", Cook Islands News, 10 November 2010; retrieved 18 February 2011.
  3. ^ "Stuart O'Connell death notice". New Zealand Herald. 5 August 2019. Retrieved 5 August 2019.

External linksEdit

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Robin Leamy SM
5th Bishop of Rarotonga
Succeeded by
Paul Donoghue SM