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Catholic Charities USA Mourns the Passing of Bishop Joseph Sullivan

It is with tremendous sadness and in thanksgiving for a life fully lived in service to all of God’s children that Catholic Charities USA joins with the 1.4 million Catholics of the Diocese of Brooklyn and the staff of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn-Queens in mourning the passing of Joseph Michael Sullivan, Retired Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn. “Bishop Sullivan was a true servant of God and a shining example of what it means to fully live out the Gospel call to serve,” said Father Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA. “He was a respected leader that all looked up to and were inspired by, and he will be sorely missed.” Bishop Sullivan played a formative role in developing the ongoing mission and vision of the Catholic Charities network. In 1972, he was a key member of the group that produced the seminal report “Toward a Renewed Catholic Charities Movement,” commonly known as the Cadre Study. He served as chair of the Catholic Charities USA Board of Trustees from 1974-1975, and from 1982 to 2000, served as Catholic Charities USA’s Episcopal Liaison. Following his retirement, Catholic Charities USA named an annual award, recognizing an individual who demonstrates excellence and leadership in delivering social services to children and families, after him. Born and raised in the Bay Ridge neighborhood of the borough he would devote his life to serving. Joseph Sullivan turned down a potential career as a professional baseball player and was ordained a priest on June 2,1956. After 24 years as a diocesan priest, including serving as executive director of the diocese’s Catholic Charities agency, he was named Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn by Pope John Paul II in October 1980, and served in that role until his retirement in 2005. During his time as Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, Bishop Sullivan was a constant representative of those served by Catholic social services agencies, sharing their stories in his responsibilities including serving as Chairman of the Board of Sisters of Mercy Health Systems of St. Louis and of the Catholic Medical Center of Brooklyn and Queens. In 1999, he led the approval of a pastoral letter on charity by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops entitled “In All Things Charity: A Pastoral Challenge for the New Millennium.” Bishop Sullivan passed away on June 7 at the age of 83. Catholic Charities USA and the Catholic Charities network across the country pray not only for the repose of his soul, but in gratitude for his example and leadership.