One hundred miles, and then some, didn’t stop those who know and love Bishop Dennis Sullivan from making the trip from New York to Blackwood for the new bishop of Camden’s installation Mass at St. Agnes Church, Our Lady of Hope Parish.
More than 50 people came from St. Teresa Parish where Bishop Sullivan served as pastor from 1982-2004.
St. Teresa is a diverse, multi-ethnic parish on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with Sunday Mass in four languages: English, Chinese Mandarin, Chinese Cantonese and Spanish, with a rich tradition of community involvement.
The bishop’s former parishioners came to Blackwood by bus, and returned to New York after the installation Mass, eating a box lunch on the way back.
“When we heard about his appointment (to Camden), we were so excited, and very happy for him,” said Carol Cane-Caraballo, parish secretary, who worked with Bishop Sullivan for 17 years.
“He was very good to all the people, he knew everybody’s name, and understood them all,” she said. “He was always there for them.”
In addition to the busload from St. Teresa, other New Yorkers made the journey to Blackwood.
Bishop Sullivan is “a straight shooter, but a big teddy bear, his bark is worse than his bite,” said Mary Collins, who, working in the Office of Priest Personnel in the Archdiocese of New York, knew him for five years.
During the reception dinner for Bishop Sullivan at the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill, she and friends Julie Aponte and Patricia Chang laughed and cried while reminiscing about the bishop.
“I have great admiration for him. We’ll miss him. He’s a blessing,” she said.
Aponte, who has known Bishop Sullivan for four years while working with him in the archdiocese, called him “full of life and joy.”
“He has always brought the positive to a negative situation,” she said. “He’s a very down to earth, genuine person. You can actually sit down with him, and have a conversation.”
“Camden is very lucky,” she said. “He’s going to bring joy and happiness.”
Chang remembered an “approachable” priest who aided her when she had a difficult pregnancy two years ago. After her daughter was born, Bishop Sullivan baptized her. “Camden is very lucky,” she said.
Susan George, executive director of the Inner-City Scholarship Fund in the Archdiocese of New York, called Bishop Sullivan “a champion of Catholic education; he was always there for the inner-city schools.”
“He’s a wonderful, wonderful man. We’re sad for New York, but happy for Camden.”
The man whom Bishop Sullivan most closely worked with as vicar general, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, called his friend’s installation a reminder that “the Lord provides for his church.”
“We trust, because Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares for his flock. Psalm 23 is true, saying ‘The Lord is My Shepherd,’ because Jesus (has given the Diocese of Camden) a good Shepherd,” he said.