Fr. Richard Mullen, 92, dies; funeral Mass is Wednesday at Holy Cross, Champaign
CHAMPAIGN — A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, March 28, at Holy Cross Church here for Father Richard L. Mullen, pastor emeritus of Holy Cross Parish and former associate editor of The Catholic Post.
Father Mullen, who was granted senior status in 1997, died on Friday, March 23, 2018. He was 92.
Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, will be principal celebrant of the funeral Mass and homilist. Burial will be at St. Mary Cemetery in Champaign.
Visitation is planned from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 27, at Holy Cross Parish Center, 405 Clark St., Champaign. A wake service is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
SERVED NAVY, STUDIED JOURNALISM
Born in Champaign on Dec. 17, 1925, to Robert and Katherine (Hughes) Mullen, Father Mullen spent his early years in Farmer City. The Mullen family moved to Bloomington when he was in the seventh grade and lived in a home his father built near Holy Trinity Church and School.
After graduating from Trinity High, he served the U.S. Navy for two years as a hospital corpsman — an experience that influenced his decision to study for the priesthood.
“I always said the two places you can get really close to God are on the ocean and in the desert,” he told The Catholic Post on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood in 2015. “I’d go out on the deck of the ship at night . . . and I’d just think about God and what I was going to do with my life.”
Before entering seminary, however, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois and worked for a year as editor of The Rantoul Press.
He then began philosophy studies at St. Ambrose College in Davenport, Iowa, and completed his preparation for the priesthood at St. Meinrad Seminary in St. Meinrad, Indiana.
He was ordained by Bishop William E. Cousins on May 29, 1955, at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria.
CHAPLAIN, PASTOR, PERSONNEL DIRECTOR, EDITOR
Father Mullen served as parochial vicar at St. Mary Parish in Moline from 1955 to 1957, when he began eight years of service as chaplain of Guardian Angel Home in Peoria. While at Guardian Angel, he taught at Bradley University and the School of Nursing of St. Francis Hospital, both in Peoria.
A highlight of his tenure at Guardian Angel was the arrival in 1962 of a contingent of Cuban children fleeing the Communist rule of Fidel Castro, who had recently installed himself as dictator. Father Mullen ministered to them and helped oversee their education. They showed their appreciation 47 years later when they held a reunion with Father Mullen in Champaign.
From 1965 to 1967, Father Mullen was an assistant at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center at the University of Illinois. He then served for five years as pastor of St. Michael Parish in Bement, during which time he oversaw construction of a parish center.
He began service as executive director of the Diocesan Personnel Board in 1972 and the following year added duties as associate editor of The Catholic Post. He would continue in both roles for 10 more years. Upon returning from a sabbatical at the Vatican II Institute of Menlo Park, California, Father Mullen spent five months as administrator at Sacred Heart Parish, Farmer City and St. John’s Mission, Bellflower.
In 1984, he was name pastor of Holy Cross Parish in Champaign. Among the physical improvements to the parish during his nearly 14 years of leadership were the demolition of the old school, the transplanting of the old rectory to The Center for Women in Transition, the remodeling of a rental property into a rectory, an addition to the school, the construction of the parish center, and the restoration of the church’s stained glass windows. He was granted senior priest status with the title of pastor emeritus in 1997.
In that 2015 interview, Father Mullen expressed his love of the priesthood and serving people. “Everywhere you go, it’s a new family,” he said.
Besides his parents, Father Mullen was preceded in death by three sisters and two brothers. He is survived by four nephews and six nieces.
Memorials may be made to Holy Cross School (410 West White, Champaign, IL 61820) or The High School of Saint Thomas More (3901 N. Mattis, Champaign, IL 61822).