Charles Edward McDonnell was an American prelate of the Roman Catholic Church.
Charles McDonnell was born in Manhattan to Charles and Eleanor (née Preston) McDonnell.
He served as Bishop of Brooklyn from 1892 until his death in 1921. After attending De La Salle Institute, he entered St. Francis Xavier College in 1868. He was sent to Rome by Cardinal John McCloskey in 1872 to further his studies at the Pontifical North American College.
While in Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Silas Chatard on May 19, 1878. He earned his Doctor of Divinity degree shortly afterwards. Following his return to New York in the fall of 1878, he was named a curate at St. Mary's Church on Grand Street until 1879, when he was transferred to St. Stephen's Church (under Rev Edward McGlynn) and afterwards St. Patrick's Cathedral.
He became private secretary to Cardinal McCloskey in 1884, and remained in that position under McCloskey's successor, Michael Corrigan, who also named him chancellor of the Archdiocese of New York in 1889. In 1890 he was made Private Chamberlain by Pope Leo XIII and spiritual director of the Catholic Club. On March 11, 1892, McDonnell was appointed the second Bishop of Brooklyn by Leo XIII. He received his episcopal consecration on the following April 25 from Archbishop Michael Corrigan, with Bishops Bernard John McQuaid and Silas Chatard serving as co-consecrators, at St. Patrick's Cathedral.
He was installed at the Cathedral of St. James on May 2, 1892. One of his first official acts was to administer Confirmation to 600 individuals on the following May 18 at Sacred Heart Church. During his 29-year-long tenure, he erected several parishes and schools for new immigrant groups settling in the diocese, many from Italy and Eastern Europe, as well as for Hispanics and African Americans.
He established the forerunner of the Catholic Schools Office in 1894 and Catholic Charities in 1899. He was named an Assistant at the Pontifical Throne in 1903, and founded the diocesan newspaper, The Tablet, in 1908. He increased the number of Catholics in the diocese from 250,000 in 1891 to 900,000 in 1921.
McDonnell later died from kidney trouble in Brentwood, aged 67. He was waked in the Cathedral of St. James and buried in Greenwood Cemetery.