Sunday 22 October 2017

Fr John Sullivan to be beatified in first ever ceremony to take place in Ireland

A drawing of Fr John Sullivan, who was held in great affection by ordinary Dubliners
A drawing of Fr John Sullivan, who was held in great affection by ordinary Dubliners

Rebecca Lumley

Ireland’s first ever beatification ceremony will take place in Dublin today, honoring a dedicated member of the church and marking the first step on the road to sainthood.

Fr John Sullivan SJ will be beatified at 11am in Gardiner Street Church. The ceremony confers the title "blessed" to Fr Sullivan and will mark him as worthy of "veneration at a local level."

It is the first step in becoming a saint and has never been carried out in Ireland.

Fr Sullivan was born in 1861 to a wealthy Protestant family. He converted to Catholicism in 1896 and later became a Jesuit. He spent most of his life as a priest in Clongowes Wood College, Co Kildare, as well as visiting the sick when requested.

Fr Sullivan is believed to have lived an incredibly ascetic life.

Servants reported that his bed was often untouched, leading them to believe that he slept on the floor. It was believed that he slept for only a few hours a night, praying until late and rising early. Stones were found in his shoes and when he was brought to St Vincent’s hospital shortly before his death, his feet were found to be in a severely damaged condition.

He passed away in February 1933.

Today’s ceremony will consist of a mass during which a formal request for beatification is made. In a never before seen gesture, this request will be made by the Church of Ireland and Catholic Archbishops together, reflecting Fr Sullivan’s early life as an Anglican and later conversion to Catholicism.

A large crowd is expected to be in attendance of today’s event, with organisers warning of Gardiner Street church’s limited capacity. The Jesuits have set up two marquees in the church’s garden to accommodate an overflow of people and will show a live broadcast of the event.

The ceremony will also be streamed live in Belvedere College and on the Irish Jesuit website.

The ceremony will be presided over by Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who will be assisted by Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.

The Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, will also be in attendance.

Members of Fr Sullivan’s family are expected to travel over from England, while representatives from Portora Royal School, Enniskillen, which Fr Sullivan attended in the 1870s and representatives from Trinity College Dublin, where he studied Classics and Law, will also attend.

Music will be provided by students from Clongowes Wood College and world-renowned soprano, Celine Byrne.

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