Monsignor John O'Donnell was born January 29, 1928, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
O'Donnell studied at the St. John's Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas, and was ordained as a priest in 1954. He served as pastor for churches around Arkansas and also taught for five years at Catholic High School in Little Rock. In 1981 O'Donnell was appointed to the Immaculate Conception Church in North Little Rock, where he served for fifteen years. He then moved to the Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith, where he remained until his retirement in 2006.
O'Donnell was granted the title of Monsignor by Pope John Paul II in 1990. He was known for his activism, including marching for civil rights at Little Rock Central High and Selma, Alabama.
O'Donnell passed away on April 20, 2019.