Rev. Terrence O’Connor of Pittsburgh is the son of Robert and Judith O’Connor. He received a bachelor of arts degree in political science from the University of Pittsburgh, a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from Duquesne University and a J.D. degree from the University of Pittsburgh. He is a 1987 graduate of Central Catholic High School. He earned the Master of Divinity Degree, with high honor, from Saint Vincent Seminary in 2000.
This article is from The Pittsburgh Catholic, June 1, 2001.
By John Franko
PITTSBURGH — When Terry O’Connor entered formation for the priesthood in 1995, seminary life wasn’t the only thing new to him. He was still adjusting to life as a Catholic.
But only seven years after being baptized at the age of 19, he knew he was being called to an ever deeper relationship with Christ.
“It’s been an amazing run for me,” he said. “It’s more than I ever could have imagined.”
The son of a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, O’Connor was always familiar with the Catholic faith. He attended Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh’s Oakland section and witnessed the example of the Christian Brothers.
Father O’Connor credited his father, Bob, for sparking his interest in the faith. But it was a chance encounter with Father Robert George, Central Catholic chaplain, at a city tennis court that piqued his interest. He was baptized three months later in the school chapel.
Father O’Connor described himself as a typical Catholic who prayed and read Scripture. He graduated from law school at the University of Pittsburgh and took a job with a Downtown law firm.
“It was a period of gradual spiritual growth,” he said.
He said he began to struggle with a realization that he was being called to something more. He often expressed his feelings in conversations with Brother Clement Smith who had taught him at Central. It wasn’t until Brother Clement’s untimely death in March 1995, however, that he made a final decision regarding a vocation.
“The phone keeps ringing and ringing and you finally have to pick it up,” he said.
Father O’Connor entered St. Paul Seminary in Crafton in 1995 and went on to Saint Vincent Seminary in Latrobe in fall of 1997.
He noted the strong support of his family and friends, especially his mother, Judy, who has supported him “100 percent.” He also noted the influence of his fellow seminarians.
He said prayer helped put his formation into focus. He said spending at least an hour a day in front of the Blessed Sacrament opened his heart to his vocation.
Father O’Connor completed his summer and weekend pastoral experience at Transfiguration Parish in Monongahela. He said his work with the people taught him many valuable lessons.
“They really helped me realize I could be a priest,” he said. “They allowed me to minister to them, and offered their support, kindness and prayers.”
Father O’Connor said he is looking forward to building up the Kingdom of God. He said those who feel called to service should allow the Holy Spirit to guide them.
“Go for it,” he said. “You can think about it all you want, but until you take that leap, you can’t experience God’s grace. It’s amazing what God can do with you if you give Him the chance.”