Los Angeles priest Msgr. Jim Halley has been appointed interim episcopal vicar for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles' San Gabriel Pastoral Region, filling the absence left after Auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell’s death in February.

Archbishop José H. Gomez made the announcement Tuesday, April 4. 

“I am very grateful that [Halley] has accepted this appointment,” said the archbishop in a message sent to archdiocesan staff and clergy. “I know you will welcome and support him as he assumes his new duties as episcopal vicar.”

As episcopal vicar, Halley will oversee the region’s administrative duties on a temporary basis, presumably until Pope Francis appoints a new auxiliary bishop to replace Bishop O’Connell. He will also continue to serve as pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Church in Temple City, where he has been since last year. 

Halley told Angelus he hopes he can be a “healing presence” for the parishes in the region and the staff at the regional office in Irwindale still dealing with the aftermath of O’Connell’s shocking murder Feb. 18

“I want to be there for the staff and Deacon Sergio Perez (the regional deacon for the San Gabriel Pastoral Region) during this difficult time they’re going through, and be available for whatever their needs are,” he said. 

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Msgr. Halley shares a laugh with Archbishop Gomez and then-Vicar General Msgr. Albert Bahhuth (left) at a 2019 press conference announcing Msgr. Alex Aclan’s appointment as auxiliary bishop by Pope Francis. (Victor Alemán)

On Wednesday, Feb. 15, a few days before his death, O’Connell visited Halley’s rectory at St. Luke’s for dinner, where the pastor sent O’Connell home with a large bag of lemons (“He liked lemon in his tea,” Halley recalled). 

“Bishop Dave was a good friend of mine,” said Halley. “He was such a loved figure.”

Originally from Massachusetts, Halley worked as clinical director of emergency and trauma services at St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood before entering St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo.

After his ordination to the priesthood in 2004 at the age of 52, Halley earned a master’s degree in culture and spirituality from Holy Names University in Oakland and a doctorate in ministry from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Indiana. 

Halley has served in several parishes around the archdiocese as a priest, including at St. Joseph Church in Long Beach, where he was pastor from 2012 to 2015 before he was appointed associate vicar for clergy for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2015. Three years later, he was named vicar for clergy, a role he held until 2021.

Halley said that he is “happy to serve in the role” until a new auxiliary bishop for the region is named. Currently, only one of the archdiocese’s five pastoral regions is being overseen by an active auxiliary bishop, Bishop Marc Trudeau of the San Pedro Pastoral Region. The Santa Barbara and Our Lady of the Angels regions are being overseen by local priests serving as episcopal vicars, while the San Fernando region is being overseen temporarily by retired Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Wilkerson as Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan continues to recover from a stroke suffered last fall.