Father McCullen was born in 1926 in Drogheda, Ireland. He entered the Congregation in 1945 after studying at St. Patrick’s College, Armagh, Northern Ireland. Prior to that he had studied at the National Seminary in Maynooth. In 1948, he earned (with honors) a Bachelor’s Degree in English at the National University of Ireland, an then spent four years in theological studies before his ordination to the priesthood in 1952.
Father McCullen continued his studies in Rome, where he obtained a Doctorate of Canon Law Degree in 1956. Returning to Ireland, he spent the next 11 years at St. Kevin’s, a house of studies for theological students at Glenhart, serving as Professor of Canon Law, Director of Students and Superior. From 1967 to 1975, he was Spiritual Director at Maynooth where 90 percent of the diocesan priests in Ireland prepared for the priesthood. He then served as Provincial of the Irish Province. During his five years in that position, he was active in fostering, missionary activities in Nigeria, a flourishing mission of the Province.
In 1980 Father Richard was elected Superior General of the Congregation of the Mission. He oversaw the continuation of the mission of the Congregation’s founder, St. Vincent DePaul, and adapted the mission to the changing times and to different cultures. He served in that position from 1980 at 1992.
During his term of office, the Constitutions of the Congregation were approved … also the Constitutions of the Daughters of Charity were promulgated. Father McCullen maintained contact with the provinces and promoted spirituality within the Vincentian Family. He redacted the Ratio Formationis exhorted the confreres to expand their vision and to view the Congregation as one.
From 1993-1995 Father served as spiritual director at Saint Patrick’s College in Dublin. Since 1996 he has resided at Saint Paul’s College in Dublin and it was there that he died on December 24th, 2015.
His funeral is scheduled for Tuesday.
Editor’s note: At the close of his twelve-year mandate as Superior General he wrote…
In a moment of intimate self-disclosure Saint Vincent remarked one day: ‘There are two things in me: gratitude and an inability not to praise the good. ‘ (Abelly, III, p. 208, 1st edition). At the end of my mandate as Superior General, I find much gratitude in my heart for all the good I have seen in Saint Vincent’s two Communities, and even more gratitude for all that I have received from the members of our Vincentian Communities. It has not been difficult for me to praise the good that I have seen and that I have experienced. My difficulty has been in not being able to see its full extent and to find adequate expressions of gratitude, and l continue to labor under that difficulty. In those who worked closest with me I have seen great depths of goodness. To the Assistants, then, and particularly to the Vicar General, Father Miguel Pérez Flores, whose competency and loyalty during a span of twelve years has carried me at times over difficult terrain, I owe an incalculable debt of appreciation. Let me also express my gratitude to the Sisters and Confreres who worked with me in the General Curia and of whose goodness I have been a daily witness and beneficiary. It was G.K Chesterton who said that ‘we choose our friends, but God gives us our neighbors. ‘ In the neighbors God gave me in the Curia, I found excellent friends.
How better can I end than with the words with which Saint Vincent concludes our Common Rules: “We must get it firmly into our heads that, when we have carried out all we have been asked to do, we should, following Christ’s advice, say to ourselves that we are useless servants, that we have done what we were supposed to do, and that in fact we could not have done anything without Him. ” (CR Xll, 14).
From his Deep Down Things