Rev. Kenneth F. O'Connell – Assignment History

Summary of Case: Kenneth F. O'Connell was ordained for the Archdiocese of New York in 1956. He served as an assistant at parishes in Manhattan and Mt. Vernon before being named pastor in Larchmont in 1981. O'Connell was involved throughout his career with the Catholic Boy Scouts, locally and nationally; he was chaplain and chair of the National Catholic Committee on Scouting 1973-1975. He also held leadership positions for the Archdiocesan Catholic Youth Organizations, as assistant director 1973-1975, then director 1975-1978. In 1973 O'Connell founded a scouting camp called Camp Spes Mundi, in Hope Falls, NY. He died in 1984 at age 54.

In May 2017 O'Connell was accused publicly of having perpetrated sexual abuse against a boy scout in 1973. O'Connell's accuser claimed that when he was 12-years-old, O'Connell raped him at Camp Spes Mundi. The former boy scout said that, after injuring his ribs while wrestling with fellow campers, he was prescribed muscle-relaxants by a doctor and told to sleep indoors. That was when he said O'Connell had him spend the night in his room to "keep an eye" on him, then forcefully sodomized him. He said O'Connell left camp the next day and he never saw him again.

O'Connell's accuser received a financial settlement from the archdiocese in 2017 via its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

Ordained: 1956
Died: November 21, 1984


Start Stop Assignments Town/Allegations State Position Notes


Archdiocese of New York

Archbishop was Francis Joseph Spellman (1939-1967).

1959 St. Joseph's New York (Manhattan) NY 5/6

St. Joseph's had a school with 106-158 boys and 122-156 girls, and a high school with 106-100 boys and 122-125 girls.

This was the St. Joseph's at 6th and Washington Place.


Spellman was succeeded by Terence James Cooke (1968-1983).

1970 Sacred Heart Mt. Vernon NY 4/4, 3/3, 2/2 Sacred Heart had a school with 254-157 boys and 275-171 girls.
1970 1981 St. Bernard's New York (Manhattan) NY

5/5, 4/4

In residence.

St. Bernard's had a school with 503-190 students.
1973 1975 National Catholic Committee on Scouting     Chaplain; Chair  
    Archdiocesan Boy Scouts New York NY    
1973 1978 Archdiocesan Catholic Youth Organizations

New York

O'Connell was accused publicly in May 2017 of having forcefully sodomized a 12-year-old boy scout in 1973 at Camp Spes Mundi in Hope Falls. O'Connell was the camp's founder. His accuser said he had injured his ribs while wrestling with other campers, and that a doctor prescribed him muscle relaxants and told him to sleep indoors. He said O'Connell had him spend the night in his room to "keep an eye on" him, then raped him. He said O'Connell left the camp the next day and he never saw him again. The archdiocese settled with O'Connell's accuser in 2017 via its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

NY Assistant Director 1973-75; Director 1975-78  


Cooke was replaced as New York archbishop by John Joseph O'Connor (1984-2000).

1984 SS. John and Paul Larchmont NY 1/3

SS. John and Paul had a school with 243 students.

O'Connell died November 21, 1984 at age 54. The 1985 Directory's Necrology section indexes him as "Monsignor."

Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest's place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

Source: Official Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1957-1985).

Msgr. Kenneth F. O'Connell, The New York Times, November 22, 1984
National Catholic Commitee on Scouting, Draft History, 1992, downloaded June 8, 2017
Nightmare Lingers for Navy Vet in Priest Sex-abuse Case, Journal News, May 30, 2017
Spes Mundi Award, NCCS, downloaded May 31, 2017
45 Years Later, a Measure of Justice for Navy Vet in Priest Sex-abuse Case, Fios 1, May 31, 2017
Child Sex Abuse Survivor Says Catholic Church’s ‘hush Money’ Settlement Won’t Ease Horrifying Nightmares of Assault, New York Daily News, May 31, 2017

Note: The Official Catholic Directory aims to report the whereabouts of Catholic priests in the United States on January 1 of the Directory's publication year. Our working assumption is that a priest listed in the Directory for a given year was at the same assignment for part of the previous year as well. However, Kenedy and Sons will sometimes accept updates well into the year of publication. Diocesan clergy records are rarely available to correct this information. The Directory is also sometimes misleading or wrong. We have tried to create an accurate assignment record, given the source materials and their limitations. Assignment records are a work in progress and we are always improving the records that we post. Please email us with new information and corrections.

This assignment record collates O'Connell's career history as it is represented in the Official Catholic Directory with the allegations against him, as reported in the media. We make no representation regarding the truth of the allegations we report, and we remind our readers that the U.S. legal system presumes that a person accused of or charged with a crime is innocent until proven guilty. Similarly, individuals who may be defendants in civil actions are presumed not to be liable for such claims unless a plaintiff proves otherwise. Admissions of guilt or liability are not typically a part of civil or private settlements. For more information, see our posting policy.

This assignment record was last updated on June 8, 2017.


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