Fr. Thomas Edward “Tom” Sullivan, CPM, a priest of the Fathers of Mercy in Auburn, Kentucky, passed away unexpectedly on May 4, 2020. He joined the Fathers of Mercy as a postulant and novice in 1998. His First Profession of Vows took place on August 15, 1999 and his Final Profession of Vows on August 15, 2002 – the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was ordained a deacon in 2003 at St. Patrick Cathedral in Norwich, Connecticut and was ordained a priest the following year on May 31, 2004 – the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – at Sacred Heart Church in Russellville, Kentucky. As a priest, Fr. Tom served on the Fathers of Mercy General Council for six years. In 2016, he was specially commissioned by Pope Francis as a Missionary of Mercy during the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
Following his ordination, Fr. Tom served as Associate Pastor at St. Helen Parish in Glasgow, Kentucky and Our Lady of the Cave Parish in Horse Cave, KY. In 2005, he joined the Fathers of Mercy missionary preaching band where he served faithfully until his death. The Fathers of Mercy preach parish missions and retreats throughout the United States, Canada and Australia, and Fr. Tom faithfully served the Australia missions on five different occasions. He also preached to St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, in India and in the United States. Fr. Tom had a long, personal history with the Missionaries of Charity sisters since his young adult years, stemming from a personal encounter with Mother Teresa and subsequently volunteering for her sisters in Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York.
Fr. Tom was born in 1959 to the late James F. Sullivan and Alice M. Sullivan and was a native of Havertown, Pennsylvania. He was one of seven children. His siblings are: Fr. James Sullivan of Philadelphia, PA; Richard Sullivan of Broomall, PA; Donna (Sullivan) Tarzwell of Newtown Square, PA; Patty (Sullivan) Gambone of Upper Darby, PA; Joe Sullivan of Drexel Hill, PA; and Steve Sullivan of Naperville, IL. Fr. Tom was a 2004 graduate of Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Connecticut where he received his Masters of Divinity Degree in preparation for the priesthood.
Prior to his joining the Fathers of Mercy, Fr. Tom owned and operated his own roofing company. In addition to volunteering extensively for the Missionaries of Charity sisters, Fr. Tom also volunteered with the Padre Pio Center in Barto, Pennsylvania. He was known to have a strong devotion to St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina, the stigmatist Capuchin priest from San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy, who was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II.
The Congregation of the Fathers of Mercy was founded in 1808, originally under the title of “The Missionaries of France.” The community was founded for the purpose of re-evangelizing the people of France after the Catholic Faith had been subjected to years of attacks and persecution during the French Revolution. It is now exclusively an American community. The Generalate of the congregation is located in Auburn, Kentucky. The primary apostolate of the Fathers of Mercy is to conduct parish missions and retreats throughout the United States and other countries when called upon. The congregation also staffs rural parishes in the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky. There will be a drive thru wake on Friday May 8th at the Fathers of Mercy in Auburn from 4pm to 8pm and the Funeral Mass and burial will be private because of restrictions of Covid-19 and will be live streamed via the Fathers of Mercy Youtube Channel for members only. Online condolences and more can be made at www.joneskirby.com Arrangements are under the direction of Justin C. Kirby.
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