The beatification of Father John Sullivan SJ, the first beatification to ever take place in Ireland, will be celebrated tomorrow 13 May at 11am in St Francis Xavier Church, Gardiner Street, Dublin. Pope Francis approved the beatification of Father Sullivan on 27 April 2016.
The principal celebrant and homilist at the beatification will be Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who will be assisted by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin.
Archbishop of Armagh, Eamon Martin, and Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin, Michael Jackson, will also be in attendance, joined by Father Toni Witwer SJ, General Postulator for Jesuit causes; Father Leonard Moloney, Irish Jesuit Provincial; Victor Assouad SJ, Regional Assistant for Western Europe and Brendan Carr, Lord Mayor of Dublin as well as members of Father Sullivan’s family.
In an unprecedented ecumenical gesture, the request for beatification which takes place during the Mass, will be made by the Church of Ireland and the Catholic Archbishops together, reflecting the fact that Fr Sullivan was an Anglican for the first half of his life and Catholic for the second.
John Sullivan SJ (1861-1933) was a Jesuit priest with a reputation for sanctity. He was formed in both the Protestant and Catholic traditions, having been brought up in the Protestant tradition of his father before he was received into the Catholic Church and later entered the Jesuits. Known for his love of the poor, his life of prayer and fasting, and his care of the sick, he spent much of his priestly life in Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare.
There was great devotion to him in his lifetime and that devotion has continued since his death on 19 February, 1933. Many people believe that his prayers have brought the healing power of God into their lives and his tomb in Saint Francis Xaviers’ Church in Gardiner Street, Dublin is visited daily by those who seek his help.
In 1960 Father Sullivan was declared a Servant of God. He was declared ‘Venerable’ by Pope Francis in November 2014. In April 2016 Pope Francis approved a decree that authenticated a miracle attributed to Father Sullivan, thereby approving his beatification.
Beatification, which confers the title ‘Blessed’, means that a man or woman is considered to be truly holy and worthy of veneration at a local level. The next stage after beatification is canonisation, sainthood, which is a recognition of this holiness by the universal Church. For this process a further miracle is required, one which is confirmed to have taken place after the beatification.
The full beatification ceremony will be streamed live on the Irish Jesuit website, at www.jesuit.ie/beatification.
For more on the life of Father John Sullivan SJ, see www.frjohnsullivan.ie.