Father O

 By Colleen Rowan SOUTH CHARLESTON— Father James O’Connor was suspended from priestly ministry and removed as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in South Charleston after he was arrested and charged with felony possession of marijuana with intent to deliver Sept. 28. The diocese has offered its full cooperation with civil authorities in their investigation, said Bryan Minor, diocesan spokesman, and an internal investigation is being conducted by diocesan officials, as is undertaken in all such incidents. A priest under suspension may no longer publicly celebrate the sacraments. In response to Father O’Connor’s suspension, Msgr. Frederick P. Annie, V.E., traveled to South Charleston to celebrate weekend Masses at Blessed Sacrament where he spoke to the community about the situation and announced that Msgr. P. Edward Sadie, V.F., rector of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston, will serve as administrator of the parish until Nov. 5. At that time, Father John Finnell, who is currently pastor of St. Matthew Parish in Ravenswood, will be appointed the new pastor. While at Blessed Sacrament, Msgr. Annie said he witnessed the strength of the parish community, which held meetings and round table discussions about the events that had taken place. A number of parishioners who are counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists, he said, volunteered to talk with people. He also noted that parents had taken this opportunity to talk with their children about drugs and the consequences of their actions. Counselors also talked with parents about techniques to use when discussing these issues with their children. “I think it’s a tribute to the parish,” Msgr. Annie said of parishioners’ willingness and desire to help each other through the situation. He recalled that one parishioner said, “We are going to have different opinions about this on how we handle it and our attitudes toward the events, but we’re a community and we don’t want this to divide us in any way.” “Those were great things that really show the strength of that parish community,” Msgr. Annie said. “They were handling it very well and helping each other.”

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