Once a Jew always a Jew.
The mother of New York’s late Cardinal John O’Connor – a stalwart supporter of the Jewish community who once called himself a “spiritual Semite”- was born a Jew and converted before she married the prelate’s father, genealogical research has found.
The cardinal’s sister, Mary O’Connor Ward, told Catholic New York she doesn’t know if her brother knew that their mom, Dorothy Gumple O’Connor, was born Jewish.
“I just don’t understand, if he knew, why something wouldn’t have come up before,” she told the newspaper. “He was so close to the Jewish community. I think he would have been very proud of it.”
Ward said she discovered her mother’s heritage researching their family tree, discovering maternal grandparents Tina and Gustav Gumple had been buried in a Jewish cemetery in Bridgeport, Conn. When they died in the 1800s, non-Jews could not have been buried in a Jewish burial site, she said.
She then went to the archives of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia – where the five O’Connor children were raised in a row house – and found their mother, Dorothy Gumple O’Connor, converted to Catholicism when she was 19, more than a year before she met and married their father, Thomas O’Connor.
“What brought it about, I’ll never know,” Ward told the newspaper. “None of us will ever know why she became a Catholic.”
Ward told the newspaper that her brother, who died in 2000, might have thought their mom was originally Lutheran, because the Gumples came to the United States from Prussia.
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