Priest Dies at 53

Associated Press State & Local Wire
November 17, 1998

A Roman Catholic priest, who resigned from his parish in 1996 after several men accused him of sexual molestation, has died at 53.

The Rev. Vincent O'Neill died of a brain tumor on Nov. 12, church officials said.

"Vince was a wonderful person and a good friend," said Father Angelito Peries, O'Neill's successor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Windsor. "He has gone through a lot of physical, emotional and psychological pain."

O'Neill resigned from Our Lady of Guadalupe in November 1996 after three men went to Bishop Patrick Ziemann and alleged O'Neill molested them when they were altar boys in the 1970s. In the following months, two more men came forward. In January 1996, the Diocese of Santa Rosa settled the case by giving the men an undisclosed amount of money.

As part of the settlement, the church required O'Neill to undergo treatment for substance abuse and for his sexual problems. Bishop Ziemann also sent a letter of apology to each man. No criminal charges were ever filed.

During the proceedings, O'Neill was forthcoming with his parishioners and even shared his problems with members of the church, Peries said.

In his 27 years of service, O'Neill taught at Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa and at St. Bernard's Church in Eureka, and was the pastor of the Holy Spirit Church in Santa Rosa, Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Fort Bragg, St. Philip the Apostle Church in Occidental and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Windsor.

O'Neill is survived by his mother, Agnes O'Neill of Oakland; brothers Kevin O'Neill of Walnut Creek and Terrence O'Neill of Manhattan; and numerous nieces and nephews.

A memorial service will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Holy Names College in Oakland.


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