The beatification of Dubliner Fr John Sullivan SJ, a convert from Anglicanism, has been hailed as a sign of reconciliation in Ireland.
The first ever beatification in Ireland was held in the Jesuit Church on Gardiner Street on Saturday with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, as chief celebrant.
The ceremony, attended by almost 2,000 people in the church, garden marques and at Belvedere College, consisted of a Mass during which a formal request for beatification was publicly made.
In an unprecedented ecumenical gesture, this request was made together by the two archbishops of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin and Dr Michael Jackson, reflecting the fact that Fr John was an Anglican for the first half of his life and Roman Catholic for the second.
Archbishop Jackson said Blessed John Sullivan “had a special place in the hearts of all of us who are members of the Church of Ireland”.
“We mark with the Jesuit Order in Ireland and worldwide, along with the Christian Church everywhere, the beatification in the Roman Catholic tradition of John Sullivan SJ. We do so mindful of the unending need for reconciliation in Ireland and expectant of the abundant grace of God,” he said.
Cardinal Amato said Fr Sullivan had been “exemplary” in his religious duties. “Those who knew him considered him a saint, and in my opinion he had reached a high degree of perfection.
“Even though he came from a rich family, once he became a religious he was oblivious to comforts and contented himself with that which was purely necessary. Faithful to the vow of poverty, he gave immediately to others every gift he received,” he said.
Other dignitaries in attendance included Archbishop Eamon Martin, Fr Toni Witwer SJ, General Postulator for Jesuit causes; Fr Leonard Moloney, Irish Jesuit Provincial and Brendan Carr, Lord Mayor of Dublin.
Members of Fr John’s family, Peter Lloyd and his wife Sarah and their two sons Hector and Joyelln, also attended. Representatives from Portora Royal School, Enniskillen and Trinity College Dublin, which Fr John attended in the 1870s, were present and music was provided by students from Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare where Fr Sullivan was a teacher.