The three bishops will join Archbishop José H. Gomez, other auxiliary bishops, priests and deacons in serving the largest archdiocese in the United States.
Msgr. Brennan and Msgr. O’Connell are priests already serving in the archdiocese, while Father Barron is rector of Mundelein Seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago and founder of Word on Fire, a global media ministry.
Msgr. Brennan has been serving the archdiocese as vicar general and moderator of the curia since 2012, while Msgr. O’Connell just began serving as pastor of St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in South L.A.
“It was a complete surprise,” Father Barron said in an interview with The Tidings. While the priest is a sought after speaker and offers Catholic commentary regularly on television, he said his main responsibility will be to serve as auxiliary bishop.
“I have to be present to the people of the archdiocese,” he said.
The appointment came as a surprise to Msgr. Brennan as well.
“It was like a punch in the stomach,” he said. “I had an immediate gut reaction that my life was going to be very different. We make our plans, but God has other ideas.”
Msgr. Brennan, who identifies mostly as a pastor, has brought that pastoral sense to his role as vicar general.
“It’s a laying down of your life on a daily basis,” he said. “I think this episcopacy will be the same.”
Msgr. Brennan said he, like Pope Francis, makes it a point to bring joy into his ministry.
“I try to bring a real sense of gratitude for the day,” he said. “Even in the midst of difficult decisions and the problems and situations that need to be dealt with, without being flippant, I try to be joyful. I try to bring some humor to it.”
Msgr. O’Connell, who has been serving in parishes in South L.A. for more than 25 years, has ministered to communities that have suffered through gang violence and drugs.
“I do believe what’s really important is for us to be out in the neighborhoods, to be out with the people,” he said, explaining that his parishes always did Posadas and Stations of the Cross in the neighborhoods, not on church grounds.
“That’s how we can change South L.A. is to be out there and work with the people in the neighborhoods,” he said. “I’ve always loved them. I’ve always loved being in these parishes.”
Msgr. O’Connell, who serves on the Archdiocesan Finance Council, works with community leaders and law enforcement on gang intervention efforts.
While a date hasn’t been set, Msgr. Brennan, Msgr. O’Connell and Father Barron are expected to be ordained bishops this fall. A press conference announcing their appointment is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 21 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. The press conference will be livestreamed here: http://archla.org/live.