R.I.P. Bishop Walter F Sullivan of Richmond: Thank You My Smiling Bishop Friend
The Bishop who laid his hands on me is the one whose tribute I am now honored to write, the smiling Bishop named Walter F Sullivan
I will be eternally grateful to Bishop Sullivan. He ordained me as a member of the Clergy of the Diocese of Richmond, a deacon - at a time when our Diocese had no official deacon program.He believed in me, recognized my love for the Lord, called forth the gifts the Lord had given me and inspired me to give them all back because they belonged to Jesus Christ and His people.
Bishop Walter F Sullivan
RICHMOND, VA (Catholic Online) - On Tuesday December 11, 2012, Bishop Walter F. Sullivan died at his home in Richmond, Virginia. He had suffered from inoperable liver cancer. He was released from the hospital the week before. A funeral Mass of the Resurrection will be held at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on December 19, 2012. Though I had been long expecting the news, my heart broke when the official word came.
I will be eternally grateful to Bishop Sullivan. He ordained me as a member of the Clergy of the Diocese of Richmond, a deacon - at a time when our Diocese had no official deacon program. He did so when some, including some of his own priests, might have preferred that he keep it that way.
He believed in me, recognized my love for the Lord, called forth the gifts the Lord had given me and inspired me to give them all back because they belonged to Jesus Christ and His people. He invited me to discern ordered service to the Church for the sake of the world into which she is sent to continue the redemptive mission of the Lord.
Though he cared for the faithful of the Diocese of Richmond for 29 years, I only met him in 1991. I moved to the Diocese from Steubenville, Ohio where I had been involved assisting Fr Michael Scanlan. Fr Michaels courageous and faith filled leadership led to the miraculous turnaround of a dying Catholic College, now known the world over as the Franciscan University of Steubenville.
After graduating from the then College of Steubenville, I commuted to the nearby University of Pittsburgh Law School. Fr Michael, a lawyer, had encouraged me to pursue my interest. I was inspired by Thomas More and wanted to represent all children in the womb whose lives had been taken by the evil of procured abortion.
Upon graduating from Law School in 1980 I began a private law practice in order to be free for service to the Lord. During the 80's I went back and forth between that practice and serving in house with the University as a Dean of Students, General Counsel and Dean of Evangelization. During those years I also started writing Amicus briefs on Pro-Life cases and involved myself heavily in the great human rights movement of our age. I also grew in a sense that I had to do more for that cause.
Fr Michael and Bishop Albert Ottenweller had accompanied a group of our students to a peaceful prayer rally in front of an abortion clinic in Youngstown, Ohio. I was in house for the University and the only major Administrator on campus when I received the call. The voice on the other end informed me that our students, Fr Michael and our bishop had been wrongfully arrested for prayer on a public sidewalk outside of an abortion clinic.
I entered my appearance on their behalf in Court and represented them until they were released. Those days when they were incarcerated for standing up for children in the womb, and the experience of arguing for their freedom, changed my life. The rest is history. That also began the season of my legal career which became dedicated almost exclusively to pro-life and religious freedom work.
During those days in Steubenville, bearing and raising our five children, my wife Laurine and I were privileged to call Bishop Albert Ottenweller our friend. He went home to the Lord in September. I wrote a tribute which can be read in its entirety here. I wrote in that tribute:
"During those years I spent in Steubenville Bishop Ottenweller became a friend, a mentor and an inspiration. I will always be grateful. He planted the seed of my own later life vocation as a Deacon in my heart by boldly asking me on several occasions if I had ever considered the call. Years later, after I moved to Virginia, I would respond to that call. It would be another Bishop who would impose his hands upon me at my ordination - but I believe that Bishop Ottenweller was deeply involved."
The Bishop who laid his hands on me is the one whose tribute I am now honored to write, the smiling Bishop named Walter F Sullivan.
I moved to Chesapeake, Virginia in 1991 to build a Pro-Life and Religious Liberty law firm called the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and serve as its first Executive Director. The ACLJ is now led by the great Constitutional lawyer Jay Sekulow with whom I had the honor of serving in those early years of the work.
Here is a quick explanation what happened. During the late eighties I wrote my first book entitled "Evangelical Catholics". It was subtitled, "A Call for Christian Cooperation to Penetrate the Darkness with the Light of the Gospel" and released in 1990 with a forward by the late evangelical leader great Chuck Colson. The book- and the term evangelical Catholics - were quite controversial back then.
I soon found out that ...
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