Sunday, November 14, 2010

Brother Kelly Cullen ofm (1953-2010)

It’s a beautiful, picture-perfect Sunday morning here in Oceanside, California. There’s a breath of chill in the air letting us know that our winter is on its way. Still, the sun is high in the sky—warm with the promise of another beautiful day. We are so blessed to live here.

As some of you may have already learned, one of our Franciscan friars here at the parish and Old Mission San Luis Rey—Brother Kelly Cullen ofm—died suddenly while on pilgrimage in Italy last week. He was 57 years old. We just received the news on Saturday (November 13), so we don’t have any details to provide you yet. As soon as we learn more, we will keep you informed. In the meantime, please pray for the repose of the soul of our brother—and for God’s consolation and peace for his family and family of friends, of whom there are a great many. Thank you.

For those of you who knew Brother Kelly (in addition to his responsibilities as program director at the Retreat Center, he served as a lector and Eucharistic Minister at the Parish), you will agree that he was a real force of nature. Spontaneous, open, frank, kind and deeply generous, he touched so many people with his humor, his honesty, and his love of the Lord and his love of Life itself. We will all miss his beautiful voice and his nearly infallible recall of almost every film and show tune know to humankind.

We his brothers are still reeling from the shock. Please keep us in your prayers as well.

Before he left for Italy with Kay Sempel, one of our devoted lay Covenant volunteers here at San Luis Rey—they were scouting out hotels, restaurants and sites for a group he was hoping to lead—Brother Kelly wrote this note to his friends. I would like to share it with you:

Praise be You my Lord for my Sisters and Brothers
So Generous and Good to me,
Abounding in Love and Kindness
Showing me Your Most Holy Face.
These, Your Special Children
I shall hold close on my journey
To the town of Francis and Clare
And as the dawn light Seeks to Praise You,
As the sunsets fly Your Brilliance,
As I sit in silence before You at Your Saints’ Tombs,
I shall Lift them Up to You, O Most Holy God
And pray You bless them and all their loved ones
Blessing them with All the Daily Bread they need:
For Life!

May God’s Light Shine on You, Brother Kelly.
And may you rest in peace.


Alexis Gonzales said...

Dear Father Chuck,
I went to bed last night still stunned at this news and remain so today. Kelly and I have been friends about 25 years - since I was a young organizer and he was a young friar working in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood. I could not be more sad. Thank you for sharing your beautiful words and photos. I especially appreciate reading the note Kelly wrote before leaving for Italy. I feel much love and sympathy to you and the other Franciscans for the loss of your brother, Kelly.
Alexis Gonzales
San Francisco, California

Jeff Durham said...

Found out about Kelly's passing while on an Immersion Retreat at St Boniface. Know that my prayers are with you all. May his memory be eternal.

Anonymous said...

Brother Kelly was an inspiration to me as a young affordable housing developer working in the Tenderloin. A peaceful, warm and truly kind man, he will be deeply missed.

allison said...

We're part of his extended familiy in San Francisco and very shocked and saddened by his loss. My sister was especially close and they leaned on each other through some tough times. He was there with us when our mother died and our parents and his parents were close. We used to say we knew each other before we were born. And now, I guess, in the hereafter. A bright light.

JP said...

I had only met Brother Kelly recently but I feel a deep loss. His attitude toward life and relationship with God made me aware of the deep need within me. I have started setting aside at least a day every other week to spend in quiet - to deepen my relationship with God - to listen to him istead of listening to work and world. Praise God for the gifts Kelly gave to all of us. May we learn to share with others as Kelly shared with us.

Anonymous said...

I worked with Kelly on the pool toss for several years. He was a man of great compassion, humor, and wit. I will miss his smile.

Anonymous said...

Father Chuck:

I am absolutely stunned by the loss of Brother is hard to believe he has passed away. He has counseled me through a personal crisis - and I am not Catholic - but in the true spirit of Christ he loved and helped me. The light of the Lord always shined from his face. He was a true friend, a real man, and a blessed messenger of the Lord. May the Lord bless him and may all who mourn him find a peace that exceeds all understanding. The world is a better place because of Brother Kelly; he will be missed immensely.

Reggie Grigsby
Oceanside, CA

Steve P. said...

Peace to friends of Brother Kelly in this extremely difficult time. Not having known him might give me perspective enough to console those who did with this thought:

When a man of God passes so young on a walk about Rome, during pilgramage to Italy, having seen Assisi, God may as well have lit up the sky with a "Mission Accomplished" sign.

And see a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
~~ Matthew 3:17

Anonymous said...

Kelly was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. In the short time he was here in San Diego he touched so many people. I know he had a profound effect on me and he will live in my heart forever.