Father Richard V. O’Neill died Oct. 19 at the age of 93.
Father O’Neill was ordained on Feb. 2, 1954. On the occasion of his 65th Jubilee in 2019, he told the Sun:
“I’ve always wanted to be a priest. There was never any doubt in my mind at all.”
A son of St. Brigid’s in Syracuse, Father O’Neill said he was inspired by the priests he knew in his home parish and in high school. “I respected them and admired them and I guess I wanted to be like them!” he said.
After graduating from Patrick High School in Syracuse, Father O’Neill studied for the priesthood at St. Andrew’s and St. Bernard’s seminaries in Rochester.
In his many years of ministry, Father O’Neill served as parochial vicar at St. Christopher’s in Binghamton, St. Francis de Sales in Utica and St. James in Syracuse, and as pastor at St. Theresa in New Berlin, St. Francis de Sales in Utica, St. Francis in Durhamville, Holy Cross in New London, St. Mark’s in Utica and St. Mary’s in Utica. He also served as chaplain at the Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy and as spiritual director to the Legion of Mary in Utica.
Father O’Neill retired in 2006 and continued to celebrate Masses at St. Joseph–St. Patrick and at a nursing home in Utica.
He said: “I love saying Mass—always have—and especially now, at St. Joseph–St. Patrick—it’s just a wonderful parish.”
“I’m very happy with the priesthood; I thank God for it,” he said. To a young person discerning a vocation, he advised: “Pray over it,” talk to the Blessed Mother, and “if God wants you, have the love and the faith to say yes.”