Former EMU faculty “Father Bernie” O’Connor died

Sad news for those amongst us who have been around here for a while: I heard via the EMUTalk Facebook group that Father Bernie O’Connor has died of kidney failure at the age of 64. Here’s a link to a CBC article about him. A quote from that piece that kind of explains what he had been doing since right before and right after EMU:

He was twice named Michigan Professor the Year by the Carnegie/CASE Foundation.

He was visiting professor at Pepperdine Law School and was designated as a national expert in Constitutional philosophy from the We The People program in civic education.

In 2004, he was posted the Vatican during the papacy of Pope John Paul II to serve as political adviser and consultant to the Congregation of Eastern Churches.

On his return in 2011, O’Connor was appointed Chancellor’s Visiting Professor of Law and Humanities as Indiana University.

I can’t say that I knew Bernie all that well, but he was obviously a successful professor while at EMU, everyone knew who he was, and he seemed to know everyone. Part of it of course is that he was pretty visible as a priest– the collar and all. But he was also a genuinely nice guy, someone who would always say hi to me and remember my name after a jogging his memory a bit and ask how things were going and the like. He had seen me at least once with my then very young son and then always asked about him afterwords.

Too soon; rest in peace.

3 thoughts on “Former EMU faculty “Father Bernie” O’Connor died

  1. Bernie had a goal to meet 3 new people *every* day at EMU. He would go to McKenny Union in the morning, get a cup of coffee and just meet and talk to students. He was also well known for his skills in conflict resolution. I remember once helping him by typing his materials for one of the awards he received; probably one of the CASE awards.


  2. Very fond memories of Fr Bernie; while at EMU and when Jeanne and I visited with him when in Rome.


  3. Bernie was a great professor and friend. My first interactions with him were crossing paths in the parking lot between Roosevelt and King. I later took his course on Government and Politics of Canada and after he read my first paper about a Canadian political party, he gave me one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received, that my work was that of a first-year graduate student. That paper later turned into a Symposium, and I’m truly thankful for him getting me involved in that and for the other things he did for me.


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