||Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, surrounded by bishops from around the country, presides at the Mass of Christian Burial on April 7 for Bishop William H. Bullock, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Madison, at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church in Madison. (Catholic Herald photo/Kat Wagner)
MADISON -- It was “a celebration of life and hope and of Christ’s love.”
That’s how Bishop Paul J. Swain described the Mass of Christian Burial on April 7 for Bishop William H. Bullock, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.
In his homily, Bishop Swain said that Bishop Bullock would not want to be remembered so much for his accomplishments as for the witness of his faith and life as a follower of Christ.
“He would want this Mass to be a celebration of life and hope and of Christ’s love, which he preached sometimes with words, and to encourage us all to live in that love, to love others as He has loved us.”
Now the bishop of Sioux Falls, S.D., Bishop Swain served for eight years with Bishop Bullock. They arrived at the chancery of the Diocese of Madison on the same day in June of 1993. Bishop George O. Wirz, who had been administrator of the diocese after the death of Bishop Cletus F. O’Donnell, had asked then Fr. Paul Swain to join the chancery staff.
“When I met with him (Bishop Wirz) I reminded him that I became Catholic at age 39 and that I had never even been an altar server and so requested that I not be named priest secretary or master of ceremonies. Bishop Wirz readily agreed,” recalled Bishop Swain.
But then Bishop Bullock was appointed as the new ordinary of the diocese. “Within three months I was driving him around as priest secretary and master of ceremonies,” said Bishop Swain. “It was the beginning of a unique relationship. I only lasted a year in that role. I got him lost more times than he knew because neither of us knew where we were going.
“But that time in the car was a great gift, because he was a great teacher who loved the Church and the priesthood and who revered the Sacred Liturgy.”
Bishop Swain later served for seven years as vicar general of the diocese. He observed that Bishop Bullock often fought “the tough battle for moral truth.
‘I am the vine’
Bishop Swain commented on the reading from the Gospel of John read at the Mass. “‘I am the vine, you are the branches,’ Jesus said. Perhaps here is no more powerful icon of this relationship with Christ than the Office of Bishop,” observed Bishop Swain.
“Jesus, through the Vicar of Christ, the pope, appoints bishops as branches, as extensions of himself, to teach, to govern, and to sanctify united with the Vicar of Christ and therefore with Christ Himself.
“We are not to be stand-alone branches seeking to become vines ourselves,” warned Bishop Swain. “Without the sustaining presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and the discipline of prayer, the forces of the world will separate the branch from the vine. Bishop Bullock was a man of the Eucharist and of prayer.”
Bishop Swain also recalled the words of Jesus as discussed by Pope John Paul II in his book, Rise, let us be on our way. “Bishop Bullock rose and went on his way as the Lord called him throughout his life. We are all better because he did.
“There are many accomplishments of his we could cite, but they could never capture his real accomplishment which was to be as best as he could a branch nourished by the vine that is Christ. By doing so he produced abundant fruit.
“May he be granted the grace, mercy, and peace he wished upon us all in the New Jerusalem, his happy home,” concluded Bishop Swain in alluding to Bishop Bullock’s episcopal motto.
Death was an inspiration
At the funeral Mass, Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison noted that when Bishop Bullock received his diagnosis of cancer, “he received it with great peace and even as a gift. He set his sights on Jerusalem, the new Jerusalem. He wanted to arrive there with speed. His death was an inspiration to everyone.”
Besides all his personal indebtedness to Bishop Bullock, he said, “I am also deeply grateful for the example of how a bishop should die with the Lord.”
Bishop Morlino read a message from the Holy Father:
“The Holy Father was saddened to learn of the death of the Most Reverend William H. Bullock, Bishop Emeritus of Madison. With gratitude to Almighty God for the years of faithful service Bishop Bullock offered to the Church in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin, His Holiness joins all present at the Mass of Christian Burial in praying for his peaceful repose. To the priests, religious, and laity of the Diocese, and to the family and friends of the late Bishop, the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
‘A pastor’s heart’
Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee said Bishop Bullock called him about 10 days ago and asked if he would preside at this funeral Mass. “I met him when I was a seminary professor at Mundelein,” he recalled. “I encountered a person with a pastor’s heart.”
“I thank his family for preserving his vocation. He would also thank the parishes and the communities he served. They allowed him to celebrate the faith. I thank you for your presence in his life,” said the archbishop.
He also thanked the Knights of Columbus and the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, who were present at the Mass. “Bishop Bill relied on you as leaders in the diocese.” he said.
“In a particular way, I want to thank the priests who collaborated with him. I know you were an inspiration to him and I hope he was to you.
“I also thank Bishop Morlino for his graciousness in reaching out to Bishop Morlino in a fraternal relationship. I also thank our brother bishops. Bishop Bullock always had a great sense of fraternity and hospitality. I especially thank Bishop Swain.”
Other concelebrants included Bishop Peter F. Christensen of Superior, Wis.; Bishop Dale J. Melczek of Gary, Ind.; Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa; Bishop Robert F. Morneau, auxiliary of Green Bay; Msgr. Daniel Ganshert, Msgr. Kenneth J. Fiedler, Msgr. Larry Beeson, Msgr. Frank Bognanno, Fr. Dennis Dease, Fr. David Kunz, and other priests.
Readers at the Mass were Colleen Geary Carter and William Carter III, members of Bishop Bullock’s family. His sisters Adelaide Bullock and Elizabeth Bullock attended the Mass.
The Madison Diocesan Choir provided music ministry.
Bishop Bullock had requested that his funeral be held at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church. He had come to love the parish, visiting for Confirmations and teaching in the school and religious education programs.
He was pleased that Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish took over the administration of the Catholic Multicultural Center in 2009, when the Diocese of Madison was no longer able to operate it.
Memorials for Bishop Bullock may be made to the Catholic Multicultural Center, c/o Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, 401 S. Owen Dr., Madison, WI 53711.
Burial was at Resurrection Cemetery in Madison.