William Aloysius O'Connor

William Aloysius O'Connor (December 27, 1903 November 14, 1983) was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Bishop of Springfield in Illinois from 1949 to 1975.


William O'Connor was born in Chicago, Illinois, to John and Mary (née Murphy) O'Connor.[1] His brother was longtime Chicago newsman Len O'Connor. He attended Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary from 1917 to 1922, and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein from 1922 to 1928.[1] He was ordained to the priesthood by Cardinal George Mundelein on September 24, 1927.[2] He then furthered his studies in Rome at the Propaganda College, from where he obtained a doctorate in sacred theology in 1930.[1]

Upon his return to the United States in 1930, O'Connor served as a professor at Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary until 1935.[1] He briefly attended New York School of Social Work (1935-1936) before becoming superintendent of St. Mary's Training School at Des Plaines in 1936.[1] He was named supervisor of Catholic Charities in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1938, and president of the National Conference of Catholic Charities in 1944.[1] He was raised to the rank of a Domestic Prelate in March 1946.[1] He also served on the advisory board of the War Relief Services in the National Catholic Welfare Council and as director of the USO Council of Chicago.[1]

On December 17, 1948, O'Connor was appointed the fifth Bishop of Springfield by Pope Pius XII.[2] He received his episcopal consecration on March 7, 1949 from Cardinal Samuel Stritch, with Bishops John Joseph Boylan and Albert Rudolph Zuroweste serving as co-consecrators.[2] He instituted the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine in 1950, initiated the Diocesan Development Fund in 1952 for missionary work within the diocese, and founded the Diocesan Latin School in 1954 for training young men preparing to enter the priesthood.[3] He held diocesan synods in 1953 and 1963.[3] He attended all four sessions of the Second Vatican Council between 1962 and 1965, and was a member of the administrative board of the United States Catholic Conference and Department of Health Affairs from 1969 to 1972.[4]

After twenty-six years as bishop, O'Connor resigned on July 22, 1975.[2] He later died after suffering a heart seizure at St. John's Hospital, aged 79.[4]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Curtis, Georgina Pell (1947). The American Catholic Who's Who. VII. Grosse Pointe, Michigan: Walter Romig.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Bishop William Aloysius O'Connor". Catholic-Hierarchy.org.
  3. 1 2 "History of the Diocese of Springfield". Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.
  4. 1 2 "Bishop William O'Connor, 79; Ex-Leader of Illinois Diocese". The New York Times. 1983-11-17.
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
James Aloysius Griffin
Bishop of Springfield in Illinois
Succeeded by
Joseph Alphonse McNicholas
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