Father Robert A. O’Donnell, CSP


NEW YORK — Father Robert A. O’Donnell, CSP, 88, died Nov. 26 at the Paulist Residence in Manhattan. He was a member of the Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle for 67 years.

Father O’Donnell was born in 1924 in the village of Greenwood, R.I. He made his first promise with the Paulist Fathers on July 1, 1945, and was ordained on May 1, 1951. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from St. Paul’s College in Washington, D.C., and a doctoral degree from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium.

His first priestly assignment was as associate pastor at Good Shepherd Church in New York City from June through September of 1951. He then went to study in Belgium from 1951-55, when he ministered to what was then The Newman Club at the University of Texas at Austin. Father O’Donnell returned to his alma mater of St. Paul’s College to teach from 1956-62. He then served as associate pastor at the Church of Santa Susanna in Rome while teaching at Loyola University and serving as an NBC correspondent from 1962-66.

After returning stateside, Father O’Donnell served as the director of the Paulist radio, television and film apostolate based in New York City from 1966-68 before heading back to St. Paul’s College as president and superior, serving from 1968-70. Rome again beckoned, and Father O’Donnell served as superior and procurator general from 1970-78.

He served as director of the Paulist Development Office based in New York from 1978-84, when he returned to Rome to study at the Pontifical University until 1985. He then joined the pastoral staff at Santa Susanna until heading to Switzerland in 1987 to serve with the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Bossey. From 1988-91, Father O’Donnell served at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem.

Father O’Donnell entered senior ministry status at the Paulist Residence in New York City in 1991, but continued to serve as a professor of philosophy at St. John Neumann Seminary College in Dunwoodie, N.Y.

A Mass of Christian Burial was concelebrated on Dec. 3 at the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Manhattan, followed by interment in the Paulist section of St. Thomas the Apostle Cemetery, Oak Ridge, N.J.