Deacon Ted MacDonnell was an OPP detective

  • October 3, 2011

BARRIE, ONT - Depending on who he was with,  Deacon Ted MacDonnell was affectionately known as detective, sergeant, deacon, pastor, professor, Teddy, dad or papa.

He was a man of many names and even more friends, someone who always had time for people, whether it was in his role as an OPP detective or a deacon in the Church. Above all, though, he was a husband, father of two daughters and grandfather of five children whom he baptized.

“Everyone he came in contact with remembered him warmly and with a genuine smile because dad simply cared,” said his youngest daughter, Janet Small.

Deacon MacDonnell, 75, died of leukemia at Hospice Simcoe County in Barrie on Sept. 14. His funeral Mass was held Sept. 17 in Barrie at St. John Vianney Church, one of three parishes he served after his ordination to the diaconate in 1992.

His eldest daughter, Virginia Eichhorn, said many people were surprised when her father, a successful OPP detective, announced his intention to become a deacon. As a young man, he had considered the priesthood but then he met Cheryl and that led to 50 years of marriage. But his calling to serve the Church never left.

“Both police work and the diaconate are predicated on investigation and operating from a belief system that differentiates between good and bad,” said Small, an OPP officer. “Where many people might become cynical about humanity when dealing with the worst of people for three decades, dad retained a strong faith that good could be found in everyone.”

Deacon MacDonnell, raised in Belleville, Ont., was an OPP officer from 1963 to 1994. Following retirement he gave his time to various causes, two of his favourite charities being Chalice and Catholic Missions in Canada. He was also a noted homilist and, like a good detective, was famed for researching his topics.

The day he died, a visiting parishioner told him how much she had been touched by his homilies.

“Dad hadn’t spoken for 12 hours,” Eichhorn said. “But when the woman finished, he opened his eyes slightly and clearly said, ‘Thank you.’ Those were the last words he spoke.”

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