Monday, 30 July 2007

Richard's funeral arrangements...

Dear Friends,

The funeral arrangements for Father Richard are as follows:

Father Richard's body will be received into the Church of the Sacred Heart, Chew Magna on Thursday 2nd August at 6pm followed immediately by a Mass of Thanksgiving for his life and work.

He will be taken after the Mass to St Joesph's Church, Harrow Weald, Middlesex HA 3 5EA. (This is the Salvatorian Community House and Parish.)

The funeral arrangments are as follows: Reception into the Church of St Joseph, Harrow Weald, Monday 6th August 7pm

Mass of Thanksgiving for his life and work Tuesday 7th August at 12.00 o'clock followed by burial at 1.30pm in the Salvatorian grave at Clamp Hill Cemetery, Harrow Weald.

Friends are welcome at both services.

May Richard rest in peace and rise in glory.

Helen and Mike

Saturday, 28 July 2007

To all Richard's friends

At last all-powerful Master, you give leave to your servant to go in peace, according to your promise…

Dear Friends,

I have to tell you the sad news that Father Richard died this afternoon, Saturday 28th July 2007. As great as his loss will be to us all, heaven will be even better this night.

Although, he was unconscious at the end, he was with a priest and friends and passed away peacefully.

Funeral arrangements will be announced on the blog as soon as we know them, but it is likely that the funeral will take place in Wealdstone, London.

I am sure Richard would want us all to keep on, keeping on.

“Pray for me and I shall pray for you and all your friends that we may merrily meet in heaven” – St. Thomas More.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Message from Fr. Richard

Dear Friends,

I have been most intrigued by the Blog, and all its comments. Even at 81 years of age, I can still be surprised!

I want to send this message to all of you who I am not able to speak to personally.

Although I have begun to recover from the effects of the recent surgery, I am aware that the disease is having an impact on my general well being.

I am most grateful for the overwhelming amount of good wishes, phone calls, cards and letters and blog messages you have sent.

One of my hopes in the hospital was to return to my home in Chew Magna and enjoy some days there writing, relaxing and praying. I have made a start, and hopefully I may yet do a little more.

I have photos of many of you up on my wall which helps remind me of the wonderful occasions we have shared.

With love,


Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Update on Fr Richard (6)

17th July 2007

Since we wrote the last update, Richard has had a rather mixed time with fewer good days, indeed, only parts of some days being easier for him.

His condition is not expected to improve significantly, and indeed he is at quite a weak phase at the present time. He is fully aware of all the good intentions and wishes that continue to pour in and remembers all of you and your experiences with him in detail.

Apologies to those of you who have tried to speak to him by telephone. He has genuinely not been able take the calls. He finds conversation of any sort very tiring and when he has met with visitors, or taken calls it takes a lot out of him. We hope you will be very understanding about this and not take any offence if he is not able to speak to you. He wants you all to be reassured that he knows you have his best interests at heart and he remembers you all.

He has been far less mobile around the house as his strength has declined and at the present time he is additionally experiencing other discomforting side-effects. He has not had the strength to do any writing and this is a disappointment to him, though he has managed to have a couple of days when he was able to make a private retreat.

Please keep him in your prayers as he keeps you in his.

With every good wish,Michael and Helen

Monday, 9 July 2007

Memories in picture and sound...

Seeing all your fantastic photos is inspiring me to go one step further...

As one of my passions is documentary films, I have always had this idea of making "Bless and Tell - the Film" one day. It seems that this is not possible now quite the way I had hoped, but I was wondering whether - and if people are interested - I might not be able to do a little film collage on Richard using any existing materials. This could include any existing films/videos, any sound / voice recordings (e.g. the BBC Bristol interview Richard did a couple of years ago) and of course any photos that people may have. Or related materials, like any recordings of the Keele folk group... So if people like the idea and would like to share anything they have with me, so that I can embark on this project, could they email me at please.

Many thanks in advance for your help, Christine.

Many thanks and all the best,


Update on Fr Richard (5)

9 July 2007

It has overall been a good week for Richard, especially at the start of the week. Despite the heavy rain and cold, he has been able to be a bit more active though this has varied from day to day.

He has managed to spend a little time each day in his study doing some desk work, a little reading and some writing. He is getting used to the fact that these activities are very tiring for him.

Friday and Saturday he has felt a little under the weather in comparison to his improved energy levels earlier in the week. He is learning to recognise when he needs to rest and recouperate.

He continues to be heartened by the good wishes, thoughts and prayers of everyone. He is hoping to be able to continue his writing this week and enjoy some quiet time in his garden, weather permitting.

With every good wish, Helen and Mike Whitty

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Photos from Adam, Virginia and Peter Grannell

Tour of Chew Magna parish in Y2K

Keele days

Thanks to Peter Grannell for the next 3 photos
A children's Mass in the back garden of the cottage at Keele in 1986.

The theme of the homily was the Wedding Feast at Cana - Miriam Sloboda and Adam Grannell (aged about 4) play the roles of bride and groom (left of the altar).

A chaotic offertory procession!

Richard's 75th birthday, 40th anniversary of ordination and 10 years of "extra-time" (Thanks to Peter Grannell for the photos)

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Update on Fr Richard (4)

Richard is hoping as he recovers post operatively to continue writing his second book which is quite different from his first, and is a book designed to help each of us on our journey of faith.

For those of you who would like a copy of his first book, Bless and Tell, price £9.99 + postage please contact All Richard's previous apostolates feature in the book.

With every good wish, Helen and Mike Whitty

Photos from Helen and Mike Whitty

Richard and Mike at a pub near the Talisker whisky distillery
on the island of Skye, Scotland (Summer 2006)

Richards 80th Birthday party in 2006

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

The OU honorary doctorate 2004

The Rivera Centre, Torquay

Lunch before the ceremony

Watch and listen to Richard's acceptance speech (200M mpg)

(LtoR: Nick Bye Mayor of Torbay, Linda Brightman, South-West Regional Director, Professor Allan Cochrane Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Rev Dr Richard Sullivan SDS, Liam Madden Honorary degree presenter, Mayoress of Torbay)

Evening meal after the ceremony
The Presentation speech:
Pro-Chancellor, members of Senate, graduates, guests.

A Japanese proverb observes: when the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his friends. In September 2001 hundreds of Fr Richard's friends of all faith systems and none, descended upon the village of Chew Magna near Bristol to celebrate Richard's 75th birthday, 40th anniversary of ordination and 10 years since been giving up for dead under the surgeon's knife.

60 years earlier Richard had been asked to leave his Liverpool school without qualifications and prospects but with a teachers prediction that "nothing good will ever come of him". His first job was as a chemist's assistant, making leg make-up that was used as a replacement for stockings during WW2. His fledgling scientific career was interrupted by conscription to the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. Richard was posted to Germany where he helped in the evacuation of the concentration camps in the Belson area. This profound experience was instrumental in confirming his decision to become a Roman Catholic Priest, a decision first contemplated at 7.

After demobilisation Richard swapped his army uniform firstly for that of a custom officer and a few years later when he joined the religious order called the Society of the Divine Saviour who like the OU, are noted for taking mature students without a conventional academic profile. The supposedly intellectually challenged Richard successfully completed his studies in Theology and Philosophy (both in Latin) prior to ordination.

Theodore Roosevelt once said "Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it". So when the newly ordained Richard was told by the Head of his order to "teach Science and get a degree" he went to Technical college by night, to learn that which he taught the next day. Richard then went on to full-time study Zoology and Psychology at Manchester University but continued to teach in the evening. Distance learning in these pre-OU years meant a daily round-trip of sixty miles. Like many here today, juggling part-time study and a full-time life he had to show tenacity and determination in order to realise the raw talent that others had over-looked.

On graduation, Richard was appointed as Chaplain and Lecturer in Psychology at Mary Ward Teacher Training College. Later placements include Birmingham Polytechnic, Aston and Keele Universities. In order to accomplish his counselling and academic duties Richard completed various part-time postgraduate courses including a Masters in Education.

Richard has maintained a military link for much of his life as a Padre in the Territorial Army for which Major Sullivan was awarded the Territorial Decoration. Richard has also been appointed as Chaplain to South Bank Polytechnic, Guys and St. Thomas's hospitals and as Parish Priest to parishes throughout the UK. He always sought the greatest challenges and always left them enriched by his time there.

There are many characteristics of Richard's ministry, but one I greatly benefited from in my student days 25 years ago was his "Open House" policy where all were welcomed with or without invitation. Richard mastered the art of making a meal feed more than the number originally planned, not quite the feeding of the 5000 but nonetheless impressive.

Richard's talents were recognised by his own religious order when he was elected as their Head. As Provincial, Richard went on to foster diverse communities from the Kadazan Tribe in Borneo to the Apaches in Phoenix an educational experience detailed in Richard's autobiography.

13 years ago, Richard was again given no prospects after major heart surgery. Yet again contrary to expert opinion Richard made a full recovery and despite being past retirement age, he is now Parish Priest for an area covering 25 villages including 3 churches near Bristol. Living on "extra-time" he continues his vocation of encouraging others to exceed their prospects.

I represent the many who are now "living their dream" as a consequence of meeting Richard. To sum up Richard, I can do no better than to quote Mother Theresa of Calcutta who said: “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier”.

Pro-Chancellor by the authority of the Senate I present to you for the honorary degree of Doctor of the University, Richard Sullivan.

Photo from Olive Barnes

Richard officiates at the wedding of Olive's daughter in Chew Magna 2005"Cheese and Wine party" on tour in Chew Magna parish 2005

Monday, 2 July 2007

Photos from David and Michelle Florence Wee

Visit to Chew Magna 2004

Chew Magna days

The Chew Magna bicentenary
celebrations are described in the

First Communion 2001

OU Honorary Doctorate - Torquay 2004

Birmingham Poly. and Aston days

Richard leads the successful ascent of Tryfan (Snowdonia) by Aston CathSoc 1979 - only those that completed the climb
were allowed to polish the Territorial Decoration!

Borough days

The Borough choir visit Keele 1985 -
Sorry about eating the innermost Russian doll!
The Borough choir visit Ystrad 1983 -
Sorry about having to call out the emergency plumber at midnight!
Fathers Charlie and Richard - Christmas in the Presbytery 1981
The Borough choir reached new heights on a visit to Wales,
after climbing the "Black Mountain",
reported by one of the group to be 6000 miles high!
The Salvatorians 1984 (LtoR: Liam, Patrick, Richard, Alex, Michael) Another great homily

Photo from Christine Clar in Berlin

Sunday, 1 July 2007

Update on Fr Richard (3)

30th June 2007

Richard is continuing to make very good progress and is getting up and about and being much more independent around the house.His garden looks fabulous and thank you to all those who have laboured over the past few days to get it nice for him.

Pity about the rain but hopefully the grass won't grow too long before there is some sunshine for him to sit out!
If anyone local to Chew has any comfortable garden chairs/table and a parasol they can lend for a few weeks so he can enjoy some comfort outdoors, please let us know.
Keep up the prayers.

God is clearly listening!!!

With every good wish, Helen and Mike Whitty