A Catholic priest from Florida died during the celebration of the Mass on Friday, AP reports.
The website for the St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico says Monsignor John Scully died Friday while consecrating a holy ceremony. Scully had been a priest for 62 years.
The church’s website says Scully was originally from the northeast but spent the majority of his time in the Tampa area ministering in a variety of areas.
On his blog, Bishop Robert Lynch writes:
I tried often and unsuccessfully to get Monsignor to agree to an assisted living facility in his last few years of life and he successfully withstood me. He found security, comfort and continued meaning for his priestly life due to the extraordinary kindness of Father Bill Swengros, pastor of St. Stephen’s parish in Valrico and his staff and parishioners. Repeatedly Monsignor on his numerous overnights at the hospital would tell me how grateful he was to Father Bill and to St. Stephens for taking him in and treating him with love and respect. So am I.
There is so much good and something amusing which can be said about this almost “legendary” priest of our diocese and Monsignor, probably somewhat reluctantly and ruefully, has given me the opportunity in preaching the homily at his funeral Mass sometime next week. Suffice it to say for the moment, one had to have a stone heart not to appreciate his zeal, energy, and desire for souls. As our Diocesan Director for the Propagation of the Faith for many years, Monsignor Scully’s ministry took him to remote parts of the globe, baptizing and confirming, absolving and marrying. He gave his ministry not just to the people of the parishes to which he was assigned but to the world as well. As I digest the news, it is almost like a giant oak has fallen and a huge space has been revealed – one that will not be easy to fill, even though he has been retired for about ten years. When I would suggest to him that he had done enough, he would look at me as if I didn’t get it and tell me in effect, “heaven can wait.” It did until this morning and, John, rest there now in the peace you earned, reunited with your beloved mother, Catherine, and father, Michael and other members of your family. We are all a little better for knowing you.
It makes sense, this congregation’s current priest says.
“It is so fitting for a man who dedicated his whole life to God,” said the Rev. Bill Swengros, the church’s pastor.
“He has such a big heart and it just gave out,” he said. “All he really wanted to do was serve God and his people. It was really so perfect.”