June is the month of anniversaries. We celebrate priests’ jubilees as we did with our special edition two weeks ago. We also tip our hats to the religious sisters and brothers who have served the Church for significant time periods. This week, we present the women religious jubilarians in our annual centerfold. And on Pages 28 and 29, we tell you about our brother-jubilarians.
This Saturday, we sadly mark the first anniversary of the death of Auxiliary Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, who died following a tragic car accident on the Long Island Expressway. Of happier memory, we recall that Sunday, June 8, would have been the 100th birthday of the late beloved Bishop Francis J. Mugavero, who was Bishop of Brooklyn from 1968 to 1990. Msgr. Caserta has penned a tribute to Bishop Mugavero.
Earlier in the week, a memorial Mass was celebrated to mark Bishop Sullivan’s first year in Heaven. Auxiliary Bishop Raymond Chappetto was the main celebrant of a morning Mass at the beautifully restored Holy Name Church in Park Slope. It’s the same church where each year Bishop Sullivan would celebrate the Mass prior to Park Slope’s Irish-American Parade. He would have loved the change in the appearance of the church, which we showed you last week.
Ironically, many priests last saw and spoke with Bishop Sullivan at Holy Name when they gathered for a Memorial Day celebration last year. (story continues below)
At the memorial Mass, Bishop Chappetto praised Bishop Sullivan’s “witness to the Gospel” by his long-term work with Catholic Charities.
He recalled Bishop Sullivan’s episcopal motto was “Eternal His Merciful Love.”
“He lived it out in his daily life,” said Bishop Chappetto. “He made sure that people were being served by Catholic Charities.”
Bishop Chappetto recalled hosting Bishop Sullivan at a parish event in Brooklyn. When the Mass was over, Bishop Sullivan excused himself and said he wanted to drop in at the local Charities center just to make sure that everything was going right.
There were many diocesan employees at the Mass to remember Bishop Sullivan. Also present was a large contingent from St. Joseph’s Academy that occupies the Holy Name school building.
Bishop Sullivan’s sister, Fran Brennan, also was in attendance as well the bishop’s former secretary, Baisy Apostol, who now works with us here at DeSales Media Group.
Parishioners stopped in the back of the church to view a display of photos of Bishop Sullivan’s career that was put together by Joe Coen, the diocesan archivist. I was proud to point to several that I had taken.
One showed Bishop Sullivan making an intervention on the floor of a national bishops’ meeting in Washington, D.C. Oftentimes he was the conscience of the bishops, making sure that the needs of the poor were being overlooked.
There was another of Bishop Sullivan throwing out a first ball at CYO Night at Shea Stadium. Accompanying him was his good friend Tom DeStefano, then-executive director of Catholic Charities.
Bishop Sullivan loved baseball, having had a shot in the minor leagues with the Phillies organization. But a higher call reached the young Joe Sullivan and his future lied in the big leagues of the church hierarchy.
One year after his passing, we remember Bishop Sullivan with much affection.