Father Joseph Michael Connors, 1925-2006


The Rev. Joseph Michael Connors, 80, a Divine Word Missionary, died on Oct. 4 at Divine Word Residence in Techny, Ill. Born in Boston on Nov. 19, 1925, he was baptized in St. John-St. Hugh Parish in Roxbury, Mass.

The future priest grew up and attended grammar school in St. Peter’s Parish in Dorchester, Mass. He entered St. Francis Mission House, the Divine Word Missionary high school seminary at Miramar, Mass. He professed religious vows in 1945 and was ordained in 1952.

He obtained a doctorate in communications from Northwestern University, served as professor of homiletics at St. Mary’s Seminary in Techny, founded the Catholic Homiletic Society and twice served as its president.

Father Connors was elected provincial superior of the U.S. Northern Province of the Society of the Divine Word in 1964. He was named the first executive secretary of the Catholic Mission Council of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C., in 1970.

Four years later he was called to the Vatican to assist in the preparation for the International Synod (meeting) of Catholic bishops on the topic, "Evangelization of the Modern World." Following that work, Father Connors gave many retreats and seminars, especially in the Far East.

Father Connors returned to the United States and experienced various health problems that limited his ability to engage actively in pastoral ministry. At the time of his death, he had been a member of the Society of the Divine Word for 61 years and a Catholic priest for 54 years. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated at Techny on Oct. 10 with burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery.

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