Société des Missions Africaines –Province d'Irlande

 sullivan j  Le Père James O'SULLIVAN
né le 27 janvier 1929 à Celbridge
dans le diocèse de Dublin, Irlande
membre de la SMA le 3 février 1954
prêtre le 5 juin 1954
décédé le 19 décembre 1996
 1958-1959 Savannah, Géorgie, USA

vicaire à la paroisse Saint-Benoît
1959-1964 Augusta, Géorgie, USA
vicaire à la paroisse de l'Immaculée Conception
1964-1966 missionnaire au Liberia, Cape Palmas
1966-1967 Dedham, USA, collège et séminaire
1967-1986 Tenafly, membre du staff de la maison
1986-1996 Tenafly, vice supérieur

décédé à Teaneck, USA, le 19 décembre 1996,
à l'âge de 67 ans

Father James O’Sullivan (1929 - 1996)

James O’Sullivan was born in Celbridge, Co Kildare, Ireland, on January 27, 1929. He died at Holy Name Hospital, Teaneck, New Jersey, on December 1996.

James (Jim) Sullivan was one of twelve children born to Michael Joseph and Kathleen (nee Cahill) O’Sullivan. Michael O’Sullivan was a Civic Guard and, especially during the early years of his career, this entailed frequent transfers to various parts of the country. Thus, although born in Kildare and baptized in the parish of Celbridge, Jim grew up in Ardagh, Knocklong, Co Limerick, receiving his primary school education at nearby Knockaderry. Jim commenced his second-level studies in St. Ita’s High School, Newcastle West but, sensing a missionary vocation, soon transferred to the SMA’s junior secondary institution, the Sacred Heart College, Ballinafad, Co Mayo. He completed his education in St. Joseph College, Wilton, Cork, the Society’s senior college. Next, in September 1948, he entered the Society’s novitiate and house of philosophy at Kilcolgan, Co Galway. At the end of his two-year course Jim’s superiors concluded that his health would not be sufficiently robust for African conditions However, knowing that he had all the qualities to make a good priest, they recommended that he apply for membership of the recently formed American Province which at the time had relatively few members. Jim applied and was accepted, traveling to Washington DC where he attended the Catholic University for his theology course, commencing in 1951. Jim was received as a member of the Society on May 28, 1952. He was ordained a priest by Bishop John M. McNamara, at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, on June 5, 1954.

Jim spent most of his priestly ministry in America. Much of his early career saw him minister in the Society’s African-American parishes in the South. After ordination he was assigned as assistant pastor to Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Atlanta, Georgia. Between 1955-1957 he taught in St. Pius X High School, in Savannah, GA. His next appointment was to Los Angeles where he assisted in St. Odilia’s parish during 1957-58. August 1958 saw him transferred to St. Benedict’s parish, Savannah, where beside his ordinary parish work, he was spiritual moderator for Christ the King High School. Finally, from September 1959 he assisted in Immaculate Conception parish, Augusta while teaching in the Catholic High School.

In the autumn of 1964 Jim’s missionary career took a new direction when he was appointed to Cape Palmas diocese, Liberia. He was to spend two years in this assignment, working for most of it in the parish of Sasstown. Ill-health compelled Jim to return home. He was appointed to the staff of Queen of Apostles College and Seminary in Dedham, MA, in August 1966. In May of the following year, in view of the changed status of the Queen of Apostles Seminary (it closed as a house of philosophy) Jim was assigned to the general staff of the Province’s headquarters in Tenafly. He was to serve here for the remaining years of his life. His years of faithful service included appointments as assistant to a succession of Superiors. But there were many other duties, alluded to by the Provincial when he preached the homily at Jim’s Requiem Mass, on December 12, 1996. These included countless hours in the mail room, ensuring that the Frontline Report and special appeals were sent to benefactors. But Jim had his own ‘special appeal’, which the Provincial outlined. ‘His personality was one that made people feel good about themselves. He was always ready to turn the spotlight of attention back to others… He had a spirit of joy inside of him and he would like his Eucharist to be celebrated in that spirit of joy… He loved to read theology and studied the works of big names like Bernard Lonergan and Karl Rahner. In recent times, though, his study became more interior, and more reflective, pondering on the very mystery of the incarnation itself…’ As a student Fr. Jim had a special aptitude for Gregorian Chant and throughout his life liked to sing and recite poetry. He was also most prayerful. Indeed his favorite prayer was to become one which was profoundly simply and simply profound. This prayer, which he knew from the book Markings by the late Dag Hamerskjold, stated: “For all that has been, thanks! For all that will be, Yes!”

Although Jim was of imposing stature – built like the best specimen of the Irish Civic Guard - he was essentially a gentle man in both manner and disposition. Nor was he strong, suffering for much of his life with a variety of complaints, including high blood pressure and high cholesterol. A particular cross which he bore patiently throughout most of his life was psoriasis, a persistent and incurable skin disorder which affected most parts of his body. It was this latter condition, greatly aggravated by the tropical heat, which made it impossible for him to stay long in Africa. Towards the end of his life Jim developed a series of aneurysms which precipitated his death. He died after surgery for an aneurysm at Holy Name Hospital with his family by his side.

He is buried in the SMA community plot at Mount Carmel Cemetery, Tenafly, NJ, USA.