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Bishop William H. Bullock dies Print
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Bishop William H. Bullock

MADISON -- Bishop William H. Bullock, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Madison, died peacefully at his residence at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral Center on Sunday, April 3, 2011, at the age of 83, of terminal cancer.

A Mass of Christian Burial was held on Thursday, April 7, at 11 a.m., at Our Lady Queen of Peace Church, Madison, with Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki of Milwaukee presiding. Homilist was Bishop Paul J. Swain of Sioux Falls, S.D., former vicar general of the Diocese of Madison.

Burial was in Resurrection Cemetery, Madison.

Early life

William H. Bullock was born April 13, 1927, on a farm in Maple Lake, Minn., to Ann C. (Raiche) and Loren W. Bullock. He was one of six children. He attended Maple Lake Grade School in Maple Lake and Annandale High School in Annandale, Minn.

He attended the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., before joining the U.S. Navy in 1944 to serve in World War II. He finished his bachelor’s degree in philosophy in 1948 at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and later returned for a master’s degree in liturgy and religious education in 1962. He also received an educational specialist degree from the University of St. Thomas in 1960 in education administration. He was given an honorary doctor of humanities degree from St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, in 1989.

He was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on June 7, 1952 by Auxiliary Bishop James Byrne at St. Paul Cathedral in Minneapolis, Minn. He served as associate pastor at three parishes before serving from 1957 to 1971 at St. Thomas Academy in Mendota Heights, Minn., as instructor and eventually headmaster. He then became pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Excelsior, Minn., where he served for nine years.

Seventh bishop of Des Moines

On June 3, 1980, he was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis by Pope John Paul II. He was ordained a bishop on August 12, 1980, at St. Paul Cathedral. He served for seven years under Archbishop John R. Roach.

On February 10, 1987, Bishop Bullock was appointed the seventh bishop of Des Moines, Iowa, and was installed on April 2, 1987. He was the first of three bishops of Des Moines to come from the Twin Cities.

In a release by the Diocese of Des Moines, Bishop Richard Pates recalled Bishop Bullock as a national leader in establishing a policy addressing sexual abuse in 1988, for the creation of two outreach efforts of Catholic Charities — St. Joseph Emergency Family Shelter and St. Mary Family Center — and for coordinating the purchase and establishment of the Catholic Pastoral Center in Des Moines.

“Both Bishop Bullock and I were from the Twin Cities and were blessed with a long-standing friendship,” Bishop Pates said. “The bishop was a dedicated churchman, capable of making difficult decisions all the while enjoying a tremendous sense of humor.”

Msgr. Frank Bognanno, who served as a chancellor for Bishop Bullock, said he would be remembered for his pastoral letters on the sacrament of Reconciliation and end-of-life issues.

“As the Diocese of Des Moines celebrates its centennial, certainly, Bishop William Bullock is a figure to be applauded,” Bishop Pates said. “We are beneficiaries of the bishop’s rich legacy which will have continuing impact for decades to come.”

Third bishop of Madison

On April 13, 1993, Bishop Bullock was appointed as third bishop of the Diocese of Madison by Pope John Paul II. He was installed on June 15.

He served the diocese for 10 years, working past retirement age until Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation and named him bishop emeritus on May 23, 2003. He continued to preside at Confirmations, give talks, and attend parish and diocesan events through the end of his life.

Among his many contributions to the Diocese of Madison, the following are some highlights:

• In consultation with priests, religious, and laity, he established a 10-year long-range plan for the diocese.

• After the closing of Holy Name Seminary (a diocesan high school seminary in Madison) in 1995, he renovated the building and renamed it the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Pastoral to serve as an administrative center for the diocese and provide apartments for retired priests. He also renovated the building’s chapel.

• He established the official archives of the diocese.

• He established the thriving St. Thérèse of Lisieux Lecture Series as an opportunity to help people experience that life-giving presence of Catholic tradition, to learn more about their faith, and to live charity more authentically.

• He led the Diocese of Madison in celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1996, including leading a pilgrimage to Rome, Assisi, and Florence.

• He authorized the building of a new Catholic Multicultural Center (CMC) in Madison, which opened in 2002 to serve people in need through the programs of St. Martin House and Centro Guadalupano. His vision at the CMC is continued through the generous leadership and work of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Madison.

“He was an ideal predecessor for me and I could not be more grateful for that,” said Bishop Robert C. Morlino, the current bishop of Madison, in a statement. “The impact of his labors here bears fruit to this day, and I’m thankful to have known and served with him. Please pray with me that he may be granted by the Almighty those gifts which served as his three-word Episcopal Motto: Grace, Mercy, Peace.”

Although originally from Minnesota, Bishop Bullock considered Wisconsin — specifically the Diocese of Madison — as his home. He arranged to be buried in Madison at Resurrection Cemetery in a section of graves for the next 12 bishops of Madison.

“But when the new cathedral is built with a crypt, I am to be buried there,” he said in a 2010 interview with the Catholic Herald. “I always kid the priests that it will be easier for them to visit me when they come to the cathedral for Chrism Mass, ordinations, and other diocesan events. I wink at them and say, ‘I’ll leave the light on.’”

Bishop Bullock is preceded in death by his parents, Ann and Loren, and by his siblings Clifford Bullock, Leonard Bullock, and Mary Anne Geary. Bishop Bullock is survived by two of his sisters, Elizabeth Bullock and Adelaide Bullock.

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Catholic Multicultural Center through Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish, 401 S. Owen Dr., Madison, WI 53711.

Contributing to this story is Anne Marie Cox, editor of Des Moines’ the Catholic Mirror.­

Last Updated on Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 -- 2:51 PM
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