Honor and Remembrance of Most Rev. Joseph M. Sullivan 3/23/30 – 6/7/13
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and the Diocese of Brooklyn mourn his passingRetired Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn, the Most Reverend Joseph M. Sullivan, died June 7, 2013, after a May 30th car accident on the Long Island Expressway in Syosset, New York. Bishop Sullivan was critically injured in the three-car collision and was immediately airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, New York. He died from injuries sustained from the impact.
REMEMBRANCE – Most Rev. Joseph M. Sullivan
It was a ten day
Showing off God’s creation
Crystal clear, blue sky, sunny,
Cool breezes lifting one’s spirit
A day that the Lord had made
A day to rejoice and be glad
Suddenly the sense of well being was shattered
Tragedy – a plane hits the North Tower
Onlookers gazed at the accident
Human error was suspected
And then another plane plunges into the Twin Tower
Naivete is stripped of its innocence
Mind was anesthetized by such monstrous evil
Tongue was silenced by incomprehension
The steel Goliaths were fatally wounded
Planes became lethal furnaces
Stoked intentionally by suicide bombers
In succession these symbols of financial power
Melt and implode — proud towers brought to their knees
All is darkness and eerily quiet
Ashes shower pedestrians and streets with ghostly pallor
Terrorists seemingly achieved their purpose
Spreading a gospel of fear to freeze human hearts
A day of darkness — of retaliation
Minds warped by hate protest injustice
What madness, what evil — to seek good by doing evil
But there was more to 9/11 than death and destruction
A city arose above the rubble
A kind of heavenly Jerusalem
A mayor transformed — a shepherd
Leading his flock of firefighters, cops and rescue workers
To risk all — to lay down their lives for the unknown
Heroism was the standard of this day
None greater than the civil servants
who braved all obstacles
To liberate those incarcerated by steel and cement
Confusion, bewilderment rained on all
But clarity of purpose ordered action
To do one’s duty despite the odds
And though thousands perished
Tens of thousand were rescued
It would be days and months thereafter
That would witness to godly truth
Light scatters darkness
Good overcomes evil
Love conquers hate
A still greater love than to lay down
one’s life for a friend
To give one’s life for any other
Faith is not diminished — it is restored
Hope has its roots and wings
Charity is God among us
For where there is love — there is God
“We mourn the passing of Bishop Joseph Sullivan,” said Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. “During his tenure, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens became a nationally recognized provider of social services. Even in retirement, Bishop Joe continued to serve on many boards for Catholic hospitals and health institutions. He epitomized the best of our Church’s teaching and the fundamental option for the poor. He was an outstanding priest.”Bishop Sullivan was born on March 23, 1930, one of 11 children of the late Thomas and Margaret Sullivan. Bishop Sullivan attended St. Ephrem’s elementary school and St. Michael’s Diocesan High School, both in Brooklyn, and Manhattan College. In 1950, he began studies for the priesthood at Immaculate Conception Seminary in Huntington, L.I., and was ordained June 2, 1956, by Archbishop Thomas E. Molloy in St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn.
After a three-year period as a newly-ordained priest at Our Lady of Lourdes parish in Queens Village, he was assigned to study social work, and in l961 he earned a master’s degree from the Fordham University School of Social Work. In that same year, he was appointed assistant director of Catholic Charities’ childcare division and four years later was named the director. Bishop Sullivan also earned a master’s in public administration from New York University. In 1968, when Bishop Francis J. Mugavero became the Diocesan Bishop, he chose then–Father Sullivan to succeed him as the executive director of Catholic Charities and appointed him Secretary to the Ordinary for Charities. He was elected executive vice-president of the board of trustees of Catholic Charities in l979. In the following year, on Oct. 7, 1980, he was one of three Brooklyn priests named Auxiliary Bishops by then Pope John Paul II. The others were late Anthony Cardinal Bevilacqua and Bishop Rene A. Valero. Bishop–elect Sullivan was also given the title of Titular Bishop of Suliana. As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Sullivan held the titles of Vicar for Human Services and Regional Bishop for the 62 parishes of the Brooklyn West Vicariate.
Other pastoral work in which Bishop Sullivan helped serve were health care issues and needs, where he played an instrumental role in the formation of St. Vincent’s Catholic Medical Centers, which joined the hospitals and related facilities of the Diocese with similar institutions conducted by the New York Sisters of Charity. Bishop Sullivan has served on numerous Church and civic boards concerned with health and human services on the national, State and local levels. These have included the chairmanship of the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens and membership on the board of Catholic Charities USA. Also included in his activities outside the Diocese has been his service as chairman of the Social Development and World Peace Department of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In the late 1990s, he chaired an ad hoc committee that produced a pastoral letter on charity — “In All Things Charity: A Pastoral Challenge for the New Millennium” — approved by the U.S. bishops in November 1999. He said the message was intended “to reclaim the meaning of charity,” which he said had become a pejorative term in modern society. Bishop Sullivan is survived by his sisters Betty, Dolly and Fran, and brothers John, Pete and Ralph; he has over 100 nieces, nephews, and grandnieces and grandnephews. He was predeceased by his brothers Gerard, Richard, Thomas and William. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be released as they become available.
• In 1950, Bishop Sullivan began studies for the priesthood at Immaculate
Conception Seminary in Huntington, L.I., and was ordained June 2, 1956
• In l961, Bishop Sullivan earned a master’s degree from the Fordham
University School of Social Work
• Bishop Sullivan also earned a master’s in public administration from New
Organizations & Affiliations:
• Bishop Sullivan’s leadership was instrumental in expanding Catholic
Charities into a vast network of services with over 160 programs and
services throughout Brooklyn and Queens. First appointed to Catholic
Charities in 1959, Bishop Sullivan served as Executive Director from 1968 to
• In 1959, he was appointed to Catholic Charities and was named Executive
Director in 1968 and served in that capacity until 1979.
• Bishop Sullivan served as President and Member of the Board of Trustees
(2004-2010) of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens.
• Bishop Sullivan led the Cadre Study in the 1970s, a renewed Catholic
Charities Movement (commonly known as the Cadre Study) with its triple
goals of quality service to people in need, humanizing and transforming
society, and calling the larger church and society to join the National
Conference of Catholic Charities (now Catholic Charities USA) in this struggle.
• He was the Chair of the Board of Trustees (1974-1975) and Episcopal
Liaison (1982-2000) of Catholic Charities USA and was a member of the 20th
Century Task Force on Housing.
• He also served as Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Community
Council of Greater New York, and President of Fidelis Care, New York.
• As an auxiliary bishop, Bishop Sullivan held the titles of Vicar for Human
Services and Regional Bishop for the 62 parishes of the Brooklyn West
• He played an instrumental role in the formation of St. Vincent’s Catholic
Medical Centers, which joined the hospitals and related facilities of the
Diocese with similar institutions conducted by the New York Sisters of
• Bishop Sullivan has served on numerous Church and civic boards concerned
with health and human services on the national, State and local levels. These
have included the chairmanship of the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn
and Queens and membership on the board of Catholic Charities USA.
• He served chairman of the Social Development and World Peace Department
of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
• In the late 1990s, he chaired an ad hoc committee that produced a pastoral
letter on charity — “In All Things Charity: A Pastoral Challenge for the New
Millennium” — approved by the U.S. bishops in November 1999. He said the
message was intended “to reclaim the meaning of charity,” which he said had
become a pejorative term in modern society.
• He served on the New York State Commission on Health Care Facilities in
the 21st Century and United Hospital Fund’s Leadership Committee for the
Strategic Health Initiatives for New York.
• He has served on various committees of the United States Conference of
Catholic Bishops, New York State Catholic Conference, and numerous health
and social service organizations.
• He was the past Chairperson of the Catholic Health Association Board of
Trustees and served on the Boards of Sisters of Mercy Health System in St.
Louis, United Hospital Fund, Health and Hospitals Corporation of the City
of New York, Health System Agency of New York City and New York State
Healthcare Trustees. He was a board member of Milbank Memorial Fund,
North Fork Bank Foundation and Our Sunday Visitor Institute.
• In 2009, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens honored Bishop Sullivan
with the prestigious Bishop’s Humanitarian Award.