Statement on the passing of Most Reverend Charles J. McDonnell, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Newark and Deputy Chief of Chaplains of the U.S. Army

 The Most Reverend Charles James McDonnell, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Newark, entered eternal life on February 13, 2020. He was 91 years old.

Upon hearing the news of Bishop McDonnell’s passing, Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, C.Ss.R., Archbishop of Newark, said, “Today this local Church of Newark mourns a truly remarkable individual—someone who not only answered God’s call to serve His Church—but also answered the call to serve his country.”

Bishop McDonnell was ordained to the priesthood in 1954 and served eleven years as parochial vicar at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Cedar Grove, NJ. During the last three of those years, he served as Chaplain in the NJ Air National Guard, and in 1965, he was commissioned as a United States Army Chaplain. 

During his service as an Army Chaplain in 1983, then Father McDonnell was named Monsignor by Pope John Paul II. In August 1986, President Ronald Reagan nominated him to the U.S. Senate for promotion to Brigadier General. In September, the Senate appointed him Deputy Chief of Chaplains, where he remained until he retired from active duty with the U.S. Army in 1989.

Upon retirement from active duty, Monsignor McDonnell served as pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Ridgewood, until he was appointed Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Archdiocese in 1991. He was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows, South Orange, in 1993. On March 15, 1994, Msgr. McDonnell was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Newark and Titular Bishop of Pocofelto by Pope John Paul II and was ordained on May 12, 1994. He served as Regional Bishop for Essex County for one year until he was appointed pastor of Holy Trinity Church, Hackensack, and became Regional Bishop for Bergen County until his retirement in 2004, remaining pastor of Holy Trinity until 2009.

Bishop McDonnell’s awards and decorations with the Armed Forces include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit (with oak leaf cluster), Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (with three oak leaf clusters), Air Medal (with “1” device), Army Commendation Medal (with two oak leaf clusters), Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnamese Campaign Medal (with four campaign stars), U.S. Army Reserve Medal (with hourglass), Army Service Medal and the Parachutist Badge.

Please remember Bishop McDonnell and his family in your prayers.