Hundreds Attend Funeral for North Alabama Priest Who Died of Cancer
MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Hundreds attended a funeral service Tuesday in Madison for Fr. Andrew Sullivan, a local priest who recently died of cancer.
Sullivan, 51, was a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Birmingham. His service was held at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Madison. Bishop Robert Baker presided and Fr. Bob Sullivan was the celebrant.
More than 40 priests attended the funeral mass, along with three bishops and several sisters who knew Fr. Sullivan, or Fr. Andy as most people called him.
Fr. Andy was recently pastor of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Florence from 2003-2013, and a large number of parishioners attended the funeral. Prior to his assignment in Florence, he served as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Tuscaloosa from 1999 to 2003, helping many students in their journey of faith in the college campus ministry.
Fr. Andy was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and succumbed after a six-week battle. He died at his sister’s home in Madison on October 1.
Many attended his visitation service at St. John’s in Madison on Monday evening, including parishioners from Florence, Madison and Huntsville, as well as several Alabama priests who knew Andy.
Fr. Phil O’Kennedy spoke at the service, welcoming all from far and near, including members of the Sullivan family from Pennsylvania and New York. In his Irish lilt, O’Kennedy made a gentle joke when a cell phone rang, saying “It’s Andy calling from heaven. He loved those gadgets.”
The service included prayerful and solemn music but ended with a joyous song, “We Are Called,” which speaks of a Christian’s journey to ‘come live in the light,’ ‘serve one another’ and ‘walk humbly with God.’
Fr. Andy did all of those things. He was well-loved by his family and parishioners. He loved to attend Alabama football games and cheer on his beloved Crimson Tide. He also loved Bruce Springsteen’s music – seeing ‘The Boss’ in concert 15 times. The song ‘Born To Run’ was played Monday evening during a photo slideshow shown at a reception.
Fr. Andy also loved his dogs, Bear and Hershey.
Fr. Andy was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on February 7, 1962 to Andrew Aloysius Sullivan, M.D. and Joan Theresa Sullivan. He was one of five children and spent his childhood in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. He and his family moved to Jacksonville, Alabama in 1979 where he graduated from high school in 1980. Father Andy attended the University of Alabama from 1980-1984.
He was ordained a priest on May 28, 1994. His years of service also included a year at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Hoover and four years at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Birmingham and John Carroll High School in Birmingham.
Fr. Andy is preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by three sisters and a brother, as well as 12 nieces and nephews and eight great-nieces and great-nephews.
Fr. Andy will be interred with his parents in a private service at a later date in Jacksonville, Alabama.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the St. Joseph School Scholarship Fund, 1111 E. College Street, Florence, AL 35630, attn: John Dupuis.
Editor’s Note: The author of this piece attended St. Francis of Assisi in Tuscaloosa during Fr. Andy’s time there and considers herself fortunate to have known him. He had big heart, a gentle nature and loved to laugh and yell “Roll Tide” with the students. Fr. Andy will be missed.