Father William F. Sullivan


BRISTOL — Father William F. Sullivan, 90, died on November 29, 2019. He was born on April 24, 1929 in Lynn, Mass., the son of James Sullivan and Bridie McDonough who were natives of Ireland. He was the fifth child of a family of 10 children. He is survived by his brothers, Edward, of Hilton Head, S.C.; Leo, of Lynn, Mass.; Thomas, of Swampscott, Mass.; Richard, of Marshfield, Mass.; and sister Ruth Jedrey, of Beverly Farms, Mass. He was predeceased by his sisters Anna Nihan, Rita Cotter and his brothers James Sullivan and John Sullivan. They all attended St. Mary’s Grammar and High School in Lynn.
After graduating high school Father Sullivan thought of becoming a priest and attended the School of St. Philip Neri for Delayed Vocations to learn enough Latin to attend a seminary. He then entered the Columban formation program starting at St. Columban’s Seminary in Milton, Mass., on September 8, 1948. In September 1949, he went on to Bristol for a spiritual year, then to Omaha in 1950. He then went to the new Columban major seminary in Milton in 1953. He was ordained on December 21, 1956, in the seminary chapel by Bishop Jeremiah Minihan.
During the summer of 1957, Father Sullivan was appointed to the Philippines, setting sail there with five Columbans on November 17, 1957. His first assignment was to St. William’s Parish in the town of San Marcelino, Zambales, where he spent six years, two years as assistant and four as pastor. In 1964, he became pastor of St. Columban’s Parish Olongapo City. The following year he was named Director of Columban College, in Olongapo.
In March 1975, Father Sullivan was assigned to U.S. region, doing vocations work in the Bayside, N.Y., area and San Francisco. In 1979, he returned to the Philippines to St. Joseph’s Parish, Olongapo. From 1981 to 1983, he was in the parish in Cabalan, Olongapo. In 1984 he was in St. Rita Parish, Olongapo, while also serving as the director of Social Action for the diocese of Iba, Zambales. He was assigned to a college formation program in Cebu City until November 1994, serving as Spiritual Year Socius during the academic year 1986-87, later as assistant director of first year students, and then Cebu director of formation at the Quirno St. House.
In 1994, Father Sullivan returned to the U.S., attending a semester of gerontology studies at Saint Mary’s of the Woods College in Indiana in preparation for an assignment to Bristol. In 1996, he was appointed Superior/Director, of the Bristol Retirement Center.
As Columban retirement coordinator, Father Sullivan continually encouraged the Columbans to move to Bristol before their health failed in order to get greater enjoyment out of their later years. He himself really appreciated Columban community and enjoyed a large circle of friends. Father Sullivan was a man of faith, which showed itself in his celebration of sacraments, his homilies and his desire to make things better. For many years Father Sullivan served as chaplain to the local Bristol Knights of Columbus. He was a generous person with his time and with his possessions, sharing them gladly with others. His sense of humor and quick wit gave everyone lots of laughs and plenty of enjoyment.
He had many hobbies, including fishing (he loved to embellish his fish stories), photography — several are displayed in the Columban Retirement Home Office and his room, reading, golf, showing people around the Columban property on his golf cart and shopping for others.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated on Saturday, Dec. 7 in the Columban Fathers Chapel, followed by burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Society of St. Columban, 65 Ferry Road, Bristol, RI, 02809.