Mortimer A. Sullivan, O.S.A.

Sullivan Mortimer - Copy-17.jpeg

1887 – 1949 (July 13)

Mortimer Augustine Sullivan was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on January 2, 1887, one of six children of Cornelius Sullivan and Mary Leary. He was baptized and received his primary education in the parish of Saint Mary, in the same city, and in 1900 attended Villanova Prep, Villanova, PA as a lay student. He entered the novitiate at Villanova, on July 3, 1904, as a member of the first class to reside in Saint Rita’s Hall. He made his profession of simple vows on July 4, 1905, graduated from Villanova College, and in 1906 sailed for Rome together with Matthew Corcoran to study at the International College of Saint Monica. Together they made their solemn profession there on July 16, 1908. Mortimer Sullivan was ordained to the priesthood in the Chapel of the Apollinare by Archbishop Ceppetelli on July 4, 1909.

That same year, Father Sullivan returned to the United States where he served as an assistant at Saint Laurence O’Toole Parish, Lawrence, Mass. In December, 1910, he was transferred to Saint Rita Parish in Philadelphia, PA., and in 1912, to Immaculate Conception Parish in Hoosick Falls, N.Y. From 1915 to 1917, he was a member of the Province Mission Band. He then was assigned, in May, 1917, to Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish, Atlantic City, N.J. In early 1918, he volunteered to serve as a chaplain in the United States Navy during the First World War. After the War, Father Sullivan returned to Atlantic City, N.J. In 1925, he was named President of Villanova College. The following year he was appointed prior and pastor of Saint Matthew Parish in Flint, Michigan. He held the same office as Saint Nicholas of Tolentine Parish in Jamaica, New York beginning in 1929.

At the Chapter of 1932, Father Sullivan was elected Prior Provincial of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova. After serving two terms in office, he became prior and pastor of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine in Atlantic City. He served again as Prior Provincial from 1944 to 1947. During his last term as provincial, the Universidad de Santo Tomas de Villanueva in Cuba, and Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts were established, and negotiations were proceeding for the opening of Carroll High School in Washington, DC.

Father Sullivan was 62 when he suffered a fatal stroke and died in Atlantic City Hospital on July 13, 1949. Solemn Requiem Masses were celebrated in Atlantic City and at Saint Mary Parish, Lawrence, Mass., after which Father Sullivan was buried in the Community Plot of Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Lawrence. 

Father Sullivan possessed ideal qualities of leadership. He was a kind man, open to dialogue, friendly and relaxed in his dealings with others, and able to combine firmness with encouragement when necessary. 

Two buildings are named in Father Sullivan’s honor; the Liberal Arts building at Merrimack College, and a dormitory on the Villanova University campus.