Saturday, January 06, 2007

In Richmond, A Fond Farewell

On New Year's Day, Msgr William Sullivan, rector of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond and judicial vicar of the diocese, succumbed to a sudden battle with pulmonary fibrosis. He was 65.

Sullivan's funeral came but six weeks after the festive liturgy which marked the landmark cathedral's centenary. At yesterday's Mass, Richmond Bishop Francis DiLorenzo deferred his chair to Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who served as principal celebrant. Classmates at the NAC, the Virginia rector and DC prelate were ordained together in Rome 40 years ago last month and subsequently remained the best of friends.

It seems the love for Sullivan ran far and wide; the cathedral was packed for the farewell and, earlier in the week, a Times-Dispatch columnist paid tribute:
Thelma Robinson didn't know Monsignor William V. Sullivan before his 2005 arrival as rector of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. But he would soon make a big impression on the longtime parishioner.

"My sister died in October '05," she recalled yesterday, "and I didn't even know he knew it and I didn't call him." But when Robinson arrived at Ebenezer Baptist Church for the funeral, "there he was. He proceeded up the steps. And Rev. [Levy] Armwood was nice enough to have him read a Scripture."

"I was really shocked and surprised," she said. "I think that showed quite a bit of compassion and concern for his flock. And then my nephew passed in June, and he did the same thing."...

Sullivan voiced familiar concerns the Friday before his death: "How can we better get across to the people the care and love and concern that God has for them? . . . What can we do to better reach the students of VCU?"
The rector may since be gone home, but may answers to his questions become ever-more alive and plentiful in our midst... and not just in Richmond.

Diocese of Richmond