Bishop Sullivan Named to Lead Camden Diocese
By RON LAJOIE
CNS/James A. McBride, Catholic Star Herald
BISHOP SULLIVAN IS CAMDEN-BOUND—Auxiliary Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan of New York and Bishop Joseph A. Galante of Camden, N.J., smile during a Jan. 8 press conference in Camden. Bishop Sullivan was named the new bishop of Camden that day by Pope Benedict XVI after Bishop Galante resigned for health reasons.

Pope Benedict XVI appointed New York Auxiliary Bishop Dennis Sullivan as the eighth bishop of the Diocese of Camden, N.J. Bishop Sullivan will succeed Bishop Joseph Galante, 74, who is retiring because of failing health.

Bishop Sullivan, 67, will shepherd more than 500,000 Catholics in 125 parishes in six counties extending from Camden to the southern Jersey Shore. He will be installed Feb. 12.

At a news conference in Camden Jan. 8, Bishop Sullivan said he was “delighted” to be leading the Camden Diocese.

"The Church must walk with the poor and never abandon the city of Camden," he said.

In addition to offering a message in Spanish, the bishop stressed that Hispanic Catholics are not simply Catholics who speak a different language but members of the Church with their own sensibilities, gifts and customs. Noting that this year has been designated as a Year of Faith by the pope, Bishop Sullivan said he is "walking through the door of faith.”

“I know I don't need to walk alone," he said. "I walk with the Lord and in the goodly company of the faithful."

Cardinal Dolan, in a statement, said, “Our Holy Father has chosen one of the finest bishops I know to be the new Bishop of Camden.”

Bishop Sullivan was ordained an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York in Sept. 21, 2004 and has served as vicar general since later that year.

“Since my arrival in New York nearly four years ago, Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan has been an invaluable help to me, as my predecessor Cardinal Egan, predicted he would be,” Cardinal Dolan said. “He has been my right hand, and I came to rely on his vast and intimate knowledge of the parishes, priests, religious and people of the Archdiocese of New York. While I know Bishop Sullivan will be missed in this archdiocese that he superbly served, the people of Camden will quickly come to know and love their new bishop, as he comes to know and love them in return.”

Throughout his ministry here Bishop Sullivan served on various boards and committees, including three terms on the archdiocese’s Priests’ Council as representative of South Manhattan priests.

As vicar general Bishop Sullivan has most recently directed “Making All Things New,” a pastoral planning initiative established by Archbishop Dolan to address how the archdiocese can best meet the religious, spiritual and pastoral needs of the faithful and strengthen the vitality of its parishes.

New York priests and religious who worked closely with him lauded Bishop Sullivan as a “pastoral priest” and friend of the poor.

“They’re getting a great man of the Church who will be a thoughtful and gentle servant of his flock,” said Msgr. Douglas Mathers, vice chancellor of the archdiocese, who has worked closely with the bishop.

Sister Pauline Chirchirillo, P.B.V.M., director of the archdiocesan Office of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, collaborated with the future bishop when he served as pastor of St. Teresa’s parish on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, 1982-2003.

She called her friend “very pastoral and very interested in people, especially the poor and immigrants.”

“He really extended himself to everybody in the parish and also to the civic affairs in the area, serving on housing boards, things like that,” she recalled. “The parish was his focus on everything. We had a very large Hispanic congregation and his Spanish was impeccable. His homilies were superb and there was always a wonderful lesson to get from them.”

Sister Pauline said Bishop Sullivan would be missed in New York.

“I’m very happy for him but it’s going to be a tremendous loss to the people of New York. He’s a good man. He’s got moxie. He’s like (Mayor) Koch, a real New Yorker,” she said.

Born in the Bronx, the third of four children, Bishop Sullivan was educated at St. Anthony School in the Bronx together with his brothers and sister. He attended Mount St. Michael Academy and later Iona College in New Rochelle but left as a sophomore to enter St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie where he prepared for the priesthood. He was ordained in 1971. He was ordained a bishop in 2004 along with Auxiliary Bishop Gerald Walsh, vicar for clergy. Bishop Sullivan also served as pastor of SS. John and Paul parish in Larchmont, 2004.

He served for five years each at St. Elizabeth’s parish, Washington Heights and SS. Philip and James in the Bronx, then for 10 months at Ascension in Manhattan before his appointment to St. Teresa’s.

Cardinal Egan, who ordained Bishop Sullivan to the episcopate said that Bishop Sullivan’s new appointment, would be a “singular blessing” to the Diocese of Camden and stated Bishop Sullivan had served the Archdiocese of New York “with extraordinary distinction as pastor, auxiliary bishop and vicar general.”

“The Bishop and I worked together at the Catholic Center and lived together at the Cardinal’s residence for many very happy years,” said Cardinal Egan. “For me his total commitment to the clergy, religious, and faithful of the Archdiocese, especially those of Latin American and Asian heritage and those most in need, was always a source of genuine inspiration and admiration as well. Having had the honor of consecrating him a bishop and naming him vicar general, I look forward to assisting Bishop Sullivan in any way I can over the years that lie ahead, particularly through my prayers for him and the people he will be shepherding.”

Catholic News Service contributed to this story.

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