John Eugene O’Toole

John Eugene O’Toole

August 23, 1928 - April 09, 2021

John Eugene O’Toole

August 23, 1928 - April 09, 2021


John Eugene O’Toole

John Eugene O’Toole was born at home in 1928 in Louisburgh, County Mayo, Ireland, to Austin and Bridget O’Toole. He was the eldest of 7 children. Eugene received his primary education at the boys’ school in Louisburgh and secondary education at St. Jarlath’s boarding school in Tuam, where he was sent at the age of 12. Gene would recount many stories from his time there, which he described as spartan and challenging, particularly under the conditions of World War II.

Upon completion of his years at St. Jarlath’s, he made a commitment to study for the priesthood in the diocese of Los Angeles, California. He began his studies in Dublin at All Hallows Seminary and then transferred to St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. After five years of study, he was ordained to the priesthood on September 22, 1951. He was assigned to many parishes and began his high school teaching career at St. Monica’s, the diocesan minor seminary, and Pius X High School. During this time, he completed Masters degrees in Classical studies and Education. In 1969, Gene made the decision to leave the active ministry and became an educator at Tustin High School, where he worked as teacher, counselor, and assistant principal until 1992. An avid reader, learner, and gifted teacher with a keen intellect, he maintained friendships with former students throughout his life.

Gene married his wife, Joan, in 1970. God blessed them with 50 years of marriage.

For the rest of his life, his deep faith and sense of vocation found expression in his work at St. John Neumann Parish in Irvine, California, to which he belonged since its inception in 1978. Gene founded and directed the Religious Education program, many Bible study groups, and the RCIA program there, bringing many more parishioners into the fold. He found tremendous value and satisfaction in teaching and dialogue around faith, including outreach through a number of local ecumenical and interfaith programs, notably co-founding a book study group with St. Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church in Irvine.

Gene passed away in April after a lengthy battle with cancer. In addition to his wife, he is survived by his son (John), daughter (Elizabeth), 2 granddaughters (Charlotte and Fiona), three siblings (Colm, Kathleen and William), and many nieces and nephews.

Vigil Service

  • Date & Time: May 7, 2021 (7:00 PM)
  • Venue: St. John Neumann Catholic Church
  • Location: 5101 Alton Parkway Irvine, CA 92604 - (Get Directions)

Memorial Service

  • Date & Time: May 8, 2021 (10:00 AM)
  • Venue: St. John Neumann Catholic Church
  • Location: 5101 Alton Parkway Irvine, CA 92604 - (Get Directions)

Graveside Service

  • Date & Time: May 8, 2021 (11:30 AM)
  • Venue: Holy Sepulcher Catholic Cemetery
  • Location: 7845 Santiago Canyon Orange, CA 92869 - (Get Directions)
  • Phone Number: (714) 532-6551

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36 responses to John Eugene O’Toole

  1. John Gremer says:

    Gene has been a friend and mentor for me and my family since his teaching and counseling days at Pius X Hight School back in the ’50s & ’60s. Later, he helped me to serve Adult Faith Formation at St. John Neumann Parish in Irvine where he had served for more than 35 years. Prayerful dedication to the Scriptures and frequent recitation of the Psalms was part of his legacy. His amazing memory served him and us in many ways all the way into 2021. An avid reader and devoted fan of Pope Francis and the Second Vatican Council, Gene kept many of us on our toes and energized in our faith. He will be remembered fondly by many faith leaders in our area thanks to his energetic promotion of inter-faith dialogue and fraternity. Thank God Almighty for the gift of John Eugene O’Toole!

  2. Gene had so much grace and a towering intellect. He was a family man to the core and an educator who cared. As part of the extended clan with Irish roots, see Gene as a guiding light”now in heaven. Grateful to have known him to benefit from his insights and friendship.. So many insights he shared and such a great family”a testimony to his goodness.

  3. Gene was one of my teachers in High School, during the time he taught at the Seminary of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels, San Fernando. That was anotehr time and another Church then, but Gene was supremely influential on my life, for which I am forever grateful . Gene treated most of high schoolers as thinking adults and pushed us to our best but always with great support and good humor.

    I kept in touch with Gene through the decades, after I left the ARchdiocese for the Paulist Fathers where I served all over the country and overseas. Gene and I shared a passion for interreligious and ecumenical engagement about whih we spoke often.
    I was blessed to meet Joan a number of times, only wishing that I had had more “California time” to spend with them. May he rest in peace.

  4. Paul Papanek says:

    Gene was one of the greatest teachers I ever knew. At St. John’s Seminary, in 1968 and 1969, he taught Latin, which was surprisingly lovely, but also taught us how and to think deeply, and why we should care to do so. And especially: why we should strive to be good and do good.

    I expect everyone will remember him as surpassingly kind. I also remember him as strict (when I needed that way back in those days), and later as very understanding when he listened to me explain why I had decided to leave the seminary.

    I’m pretty sure I also picked up some of his expressions and verbal mannerisms, which work quite well when I’m trying to do teaching of my own. I’m very grateful for all those lessons.

    I’ll always remember and revere him as a great man, who touched my life by setting a brilliant example. I’ll miss him.

    My deepest condolences to the family and warmest regards to the family.

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