Nova Scotia

Cape Breton priest, academic Bernie O'Connor dies in U.S.

Bernard O'Connor, best known in Cape Breton as Father Bernie, has died at the age of 64 in Indiana.

Father Bernie O'Connor remembered as parish priest, academic and Vatican adviser

Rev. Bernard O'Connor, best known in Cape Breton as Father Bernie, has died at the age of 64.

O'Connor was born in Sydney Mines.

He had been ill health for some time, and died in an Mishawaka, Indiana hospital earlier this week of kidney failure.

He was ordained in 1977 and served parishes around Sydney and Antigonish before launching a storied academic career in the United States.

He held a PhD in theology and a law degree, as well as certificates in international diplomacy and conflict management from the U.S. State Department and the United Nations.

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.

Throughout his career, O'Connor regularly returned to Cape Breton, where his mother still lives, to visit family and friends.

A family friend told CBC Father Bernie's remains will be returned to Cape Breton on Saturday.

Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

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