Fr. William F. Sullivan was born on April 24, 1929 in Lynn, MA the son of James Sullivan and Bridie McDonough who were natives of Ireland. Bill was the fifth child of a family of ten children. He is survived by his brothers, Edward of Hilton Head, SC, Leo of Lynn, MA, Thomas of Swampscott, MA, Richard of Marshfield, MA and sister Ruth Jedrey of Beverly Farms, MA. Bill was predeceased by his sisters Anna Nihan, Rita Cotter and his brothers James Sullivan and John Sullivan. They all attended St. Mary's Grammar and High School in Lynn.
After graduating high school Bill thought of becoming a priest and attended the School of St. Philip Neri for Delayed Vocations to learn enough Latin to attend a seminary. He then entered the Columban formation program starting at St. Columban's Seminary in Milton, MA on September 8, 1948. In September 1949 he went on to Bristol, RI for spiritual year, then to Omaha in 1950, followed by going to the new Columban major seminary in Milton, MA in 1953. He was ordained on December 21, 1956 in the seminary chapel by Bishop Jeremiah Minihan.
During the summer of 1957 Bill was appointed to Philippines setting sail there with five Columbans on November 17, 1957. His first assignment was to St. William's Parish in the town of San Marcelino, Zambales where he spent six years, two years as assistant and four as pastor. In 1964 he became pastor of St. Columban’s Parish Olongapo City. The following year he was named Director of Columban College, in Olongapo.
In March 1975 Bill was assigned to US region doing vocation work in the Bayside, NY area and San Francisco. In 1979 he returned to the Philippines to St. Joseph's Parish, Olongapo. From 1981 to 1983 he was in the parish in Cabalan, Olongapo. In 1984 he was in Sta. Rita Parish, Olongapo while also serving as the Director of Social Action for the diocese of Iba, Zambales. He was assigned to our College formation program in Cebu City until November 1994, serving as Spiritual Year Socius during the academic Year 1986‑87, later as assistant director of first Year Students, and then Cebu Director of Formation at the Quirno St. House.
In 1994 Bill returned to the US attending a semester of gerontology studies at Saint Mary's of the Woods College in Indiana in preparation for an assignment to Bristol. In 1996 he was appointed Superior/Director, Bristol Retirement Center.
As Columban Retirement Coordinator, Bill continually encouraged the Columbans to move to Bristol before their health failed in order to get greater enjoyment out of their later years. He himself really appreciated Columban community and enjoyed a large circle of friends. Bill was a Man of Faith which showed itself in his celebration of Sacraments, his homilies, and his desire to make things better. For many years Father Bill served as Chaplain to the local Bristol Knights of Columbus. He was a generous person with his time and with his possessions, sharing them gladly with others. His sense of humor and quick wit gave us all lots of laughs and plenty of enjoyment. He loved life and helped others do the same. He was an avid promoter of our Columban Festival, encouraging many to buy tickets, and getting his large, extended family to gather together at the Festival each year.
He had many hobbies - including fishing (he loved to embellish his fish stories!), photography - several are displayed in our Columban Retirement Home Office and his room, reading (he had an inquisitive mind), golf (mostly to be with friends), showing people around our property on his golf cart, and shopping (he couldn't resist buying something - often for someone else- when he went out).
In more recent years his health began to fail. He slowed down and his eyesight and hearing got worse. Still, he never lost that great sense of humor which so endeared him to all of us, On November 7th he fell and injured his head and three weeks later, on Friday, November 29, 2019 at 7:12 AM he went home to God, having been blest with about two weeks to say good bye to his family and many friends.
He will be sorely missed. May he rest in the peace of the Risen Christ.
Calling hour will be held Friday, December 6th, 5 - 7 PM in the Columban Fathers Chapel, 65 Ferry Road, Bristol and Saturday, December 7th at 9 AM with a Mass of Christian Burial Celebrated at 11 AM in the Chapel. Burial will follow in St. Mary’s Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to: Society of St. Columban, 65 Ferry Road, Bristol RI 02809.
To send flowers to William's family, please visit our floral section.
Society of St. Columban
65 Ferry Road, Bristol RI 02809