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Birth Name            Michael O'Connell            
Religious Name      Raphael of St Teresa of the Child Jesus                                      
Born            06.05.1932 in Carrigmartin
Profession    12.09.1950
Ordination    28.04.1957
Died    15.07.2009 in Oxford (hospital)   

Fr Raphael, whose baptismal name was Michael, was born on May 6, 1932 at Carrigmartin, Co. Limerick, Ireland. Following his primary education at the local National School he went to St Therese College, Castlemartyr in 1944. Even at this early stage of his life he showed an exceptional ability to master languages. His knowledge of Latin led to his fellow students giving him the affectionate title of ‘bishop.’ He entered the Carmelite Noviciate in Loughrea in 1949 and was professed on September 12, 1950. He pursued his philosophy studies at St Mary’s, Gayfield in Dublin and his theology in the Carmelite International College in Rome where he was ordained on September 28, 1957.

On his return to Ireland he was appointed to Loughrea. He later moved to St Teresa’s, Clarendon Street before being appointed in 1961 to Wincanton. He moved again to Boars Hill, which was then a House of Studies, to teach Latin. While there he was asked to become chaplain to the RAF base at Abingdon. He enjoyed that ministry very much and was a very popular chaplain. When Boars Hill ceased to be a House of Studies he moved to Gerrards Cross where he would spend much of the remainder of his life. He was also Prior and Parish Priest at Wincanton and Kensington.

When he finished his last term of office as Prior and Parish Priest in Gerrards Cross in 2005 he moved to Boars Hill to rest for a while. However within a short time he was diagnosed with cancer. He was blessed with great determination and fought his illness bravely. Despite his disabilities he celebrated the community Mass until shortly before Christmas. In order to manage his pain better his last few weeks were spent at Selby Hall, a hospice in Oxford, where he died peacefully on the evening of Sunday, February 15.

He loved languages and spoke most of the Western European languages fluently. In addition to Latin and Greek which he loved to teach he also mastered Russian and Polish. In recent times he took up again the study of Mandarin. He read widely and kept his interest in theology and spirituality alive up to his last weeks. He was a very popular pastor in each of the parishes where he served and is remembered with great affection in them. It is appropriate that his final resting place will be Gerrards Cross which was so close to his heart.
May he rest in peace.