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Catholic Northwest Progress
Seattle, Washington
June 28, 1963     Catholic Northwest Progress
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June 28, 1963

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OA Tribute To Very Rev. John R. Sullivan, S.S.: F,;doy. Jono 28. ,,63 THE PRoGRess--9 A GREAT PRI LI:AV :S TH-00 NORTHWI:ST I ii I I I I / I I By Rev. ,James H. Gandrau Class of 1958 ne morning a few days from now, a handful of Sulpieian Fathers will gather be- neath the massive col- that guard the entrance St. Thomas the Apostle Major Seminary. A side door will open and a priest carry- ing breviary, black hat and suitcase will emerge. There will be warm handclasps, good- byes and the inevitable clerical wise cracks to break the ten- sion that always accompanies the parting of a brother priest. Then, with one final back- ward glance at his beloved Seminary, Father John R. Sul- livan will turn, walk briskly to an awaiting automobile and drive away. Some of the details of Father Sullivan's departure just de- scribed may be inaccurate. He may not be carrying his brevi- ary, perhaps he will leave in the afternoon. But one thing is certain, there will be little fan- fare. Not because he doesn't deserve it, but because he wouldn't want it. Left Imprint On Souls And yet, next to Archbishop Connolly and Bishop Gill, no single individual has had. a more profound influence upon the Church in the Northwest than this quiet, austere and somewhat retiring seminary professor, whom his fellow faculty members have affec- tionately nicknamed "Sully". The 187 priests who have been ordained in the eleven years he has been rector of Seattle's m a j o r seminary bear not only the character of orders upon their con- secrated souls, but the character of John R. Sul- livan as well. He has formed Christ in us. Every Mass we offer, sermon we preach, instruction we give, confession we hear, medita- tion we make, is affected by the vision of the priesthood we have received from this man. So that in the Divine economy every soul we in- fluence directly, he influences indirectly. And this for the rest of our lives and theirs. Philosophers tell us t h a t goodness has a tendency to dif- fuse itself. Only God Himself in His infinite Wisdom and Knowledge can determine the spiritual effect on immortal souls that has emanated from Father Sullivan's life and teach- ing during the years that he has lived among us. Spiritual Effect Staggering The spiritual effect Father Sullivan has had upon the Northwest staggers the imagin- ation. And yet, when the Genesis of the pioneer Church in this area is finally written, his biography will no doubt resemble that of another great high priest--Melchisedec. For when the new rector appear- ed at St. Edward's on the eighth of August, 1952, he was unknown and unheard of. For the provincial Washingtonian it was enough to say that he had come from some large city in the East. Little else was known of his origin. Actually, F a t h e r Sullivan comes from Springfield, Ohio, he had gone to the seminary at St. Charles College, Catons- ville, completed his studies for the priesthood at Catholic Uni- versity in Washington, D.C., and was ordained in 1934. His doctorate in Canon Law was awarded by the University of Louvain, Belgium in 1939. Upon receiving this degree, he re- turned to St. Mary's Major Seminary in Baltimore where he taught Canon Law and Pas- toral Theology for thirteen years. It was while teaching at St. Mary's that he received the call to come West. Will Leave @uletly And now, after 11 years as rector of our Archdiocesan major seminary, Father Sulli- van is about to disappear from the living narrative of North- west history as suddenly and quietly as he had appeared. But, like Melchisedec, the sac- rifice that he has offered here will last forever. The new major seminary of St. Thomas the Apostle stands as an eternal monument to his priesthood. Those of us who were seminarians during its construction can remember the terrible burden running one seminary and building another imposed upon him. This mag- nificent edifice, largely the work of Father Sullivan's own zeal, is the pride of every Catholic in this Archdiocese. He was likewise responsible for the construction of the port. able domitories later known as "Sullivan Flats" down at St. Edward's. He initiated the student Book Store, the Harvester offset press, and St. Camillus walks of mercy to Firlands Sanator- ium, Monroe Reformatory and several Seattle hospitals. He also made radical changes in the major seminary curricu- lum. In the Philosophy De- partment, for example, more emphasis is now given to social studies and in Theology; great- er stress is laid on Catechetics, Scripture and preaching. Founded Physicians' Guild With all this he still found time to establish a Catholic Physicians Guild of which he himself was chaplain and also to accompany Archbishop Con- nolly to Rome to be his per- sonal advisor and theologian during the first session of the Second Vatican Council. And yet for all of his many accomplishments, Father Sulli- van has received relatively little publicity. He has rarely left the 365 acres that enclose the two seminaries. As a matter of fact, if you tied a string a block long to the Chapel door and using it as a radius drew the circumference of a circle, you could pretty well fence in the boundaries of this man's life, these past eleven years. From the chapel to his room, to the office, the classroom, the prayer hall, the refectory, and back to chapel again--this is pretty much the story of his life. He shies away from camera and newspaper reporters! This writer can attest to from personal experience. Constantly Reminds Of Greatness Thelway Father Sullivan has lived his life among us holds many lessons, especially for priests. There is the constant reminder that greatness and immortality for us will be found not in our manhood, but in our priesthood. Every priest is a stranger in the world ha serves. Our names, our talents, our human undertakings, ap- pear and disappear. But it is the sacrifice of bread and wine, the sacrifice of our minds and hearts to God that remain forever. This is often why the truly great of every age rarely get into print. God reads souls, not new papers; he scrutinizes hearts, not headlines. And we think the life of Father Sullivan bears witness to this. "We Shall Never Forget . . ," While the world at large may not know him, we do. And we shall never forget the vital part he played in our priestly formation. May God bless him in his new job as rector of St. Mary's, Baltimore. And we hope and pray that he will come back to visit the North- west often. ANTICIPATING HIS NEW DUTIES, Father Sullivan is seen, upper left, deciding on faculty as- Oignments at St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, the first and largest Sulpi- clan House in the United States where average enrollment exceeds 400 seminarians each year in the The. ology Department alone. One of the Aappiest events in the lives of both rchbishop Connolly and Father Sullivan was the construction of St. Thomas the Apostle Seminary. Pic- tured, upper right, is the ceremony of breaking ground for the structure eld August 15, 1956, Feast of the ssumption of Our Lady. Among those present, besides the Arch. bishop, left to right, were: Msgr. Joseph Camerman, the late Msgr. Theodore M. Ryan; John W. Ma- ney, architect; Msgr. Joseph Wolter, ev. Lawrence Willenborg, Msgr. E. J. McFadden, and Father Sullivan. THE VERY REV. JOHN R. SULLIVAN, S.S., in picture at left, says goodbye to Very Rev. Denis D. Foudy, S.S., before the majestic entrance to St. Thomas the Aposde Major Seminary, Kenmore, Wash. ington. In the background are seminary professors, left to right: Rev. G. Joseph Gustafson, S.S.; Rev. John McCorkle, S.S.; and Ray. Richard X. Redmond, S.S, Father Sullivan, who has been promoted to the post of rector of St. Mary's Seminary, Baltimore, will be succeeded at St. Thomas' by Father Foudy. Father Sullivan has served the seminary here for 11 yeang $11l111t11111111111l111111l11l1l11111i1111111511111111l111111111111111l1111ll1111l1iit1lilli[1i1r15f11[Ji The Caholic Physicians' Guild of King County Thanks is Founder, Very Rev. John R. Sullivan, S.S. For His Consan Encouracjernen And Inspiration And Wishes Him Well in His New Assignmen | l/lllllfl IIIIItIIIIIq!IIIII!IIItlIIIIIlu IIllfl lIft I It I lIft !tllllSI!lllllllllll1!ll!nllltl!l!lllIIltIllfl IIIIII I llllllllllllll t!1t111111111 111111!1 I! m lllll I1 fllll111111!1111111 q1111111111t1 if lIft I I! 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