“Bishop of Holyoke” Father Francis X. Sullivan has died

Longtime priest served as St. Patrick's Parade chaplain, was captain in Army Reserves

Father Francis X. Sullivan is seen here in a WWLP file image from a 2014 interview. Sullivan died on December 24, 2016 at the age of 91.

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A long-serving local priest, who had been referred to as the “Bishop of Holyoke” has died at the age of 91. Mark Dupont, spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, told 22News that Father Francis X. Sullivan died on Christmas Eve at the Marian Center in Holyoke.

Born in 1925, Sullivan was a native of Worcester and a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross. He attended seminary in Montreal, and was ordained a priest in 1948. In his decades of ministry, Sullivan served at parishes in Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Haydenville, and Sheffield; finishing his career as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Westfield during the 1990s.

In addition to his 68 years as a priest, Sullivan also served his country as a Captain in the U.S. Army Reserves.

Father Sullivan maintained strong ties to Holyoke, even when assigned to churches in other western Massachusetts communities. He served as chaplain of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Parade Committee over two different time periods. For his deep connection to the city, Fr. William Lunney, pastor of St. Jerome’s Church, called Sullivan the “Bishop of Holyoke.”

He was also a very close friend to the late Bishop Joseph Maguire. 22News anchor Kait Walsh interviewed Sullivan following Maguire’s passing in 2014, and the long-serving priest said that he was privileged to have had the bishop’s friendship.

Sullivan’s final public appearance was as a concelebrant of the St. Patrick’s Parade Mass, which aired this March on the Chalice of Salvation.

Funeral arrangements for Sullivan have yet to be formalized, but a funeral Mass is expected to take place on New Year’s Eve at Our Lady of the Cross Parish in Holyoke, with burial in Worcester.

Dupont noted that the Diocese lost two longtime priests on Christmas Eve this year. In addition to Sullivan’s passing, Dupont said that Fr. Matt O’Connor, a longtime teacher at Cathedral High School, also died on Saturday.