Upon ordination at St. Charles Borromeo, his only goal was to be the pastor of a parish somewhere. He hoped to apprentice to some old wise pastor like the Barry Fitzgerald character in "Going My Way", and then take over the parish.
But his first assignment was at a school for mentally retarded children in Upper Darby. While there were different rewards in that job, it wasn't quite what he was looking for. When the Korean War broke out, O'Connor asked Cardinal Dougherty to let him join the Navy to be a chaplain. It was the key decision of his life.
O'Connor discovered that as a Navy chaplain he was pastor of a parish. Granted, his parish floated and moved around a lot, but a parish is a parish. O'Connor decided to stay in the Navy and ended up as chief chaplain of all the armed forces with the rank of Navy captain.
When he was about to retire, he sent out resumes to bishops in the hope that somewhere there was an opening for a parish pastorship where O'Connor could spend the rest of his career.
Then he got the call from Rome. They wanted him in Scranton-Wilkes Barre -- as a bishop.
The rest is history.
My squadron had gone back to Florida but I stayed aboard to maintain squadron spaces.We used the squadron Ready Room as our base of operations,because it had a TV set and a coffee pot.
Then LCDR O'Connor would stop by when we had football games on during the week-end.
I have fond memories of sitting there with him watching football and just shooting the breeze.He was a class act.
I first met him as a cadet at West Point.
The parish on post belongs to the NY archdiocese (very unusual).
He was invited to address ALL new plebes and give us encouragement. I don't recall what he said to us, but I do remember I was uplifted and motivated by his words.