WOOD-RIDGE, N.J . — Photographs and memories greeted Brian Cullinane, OFM, when he returned to New Jersey from Boston last month for a farewell party that thanked him for his nine years of service at his former parish, Assumption of our Blessed Lady.
The Sept. 24 celebration began at the 5:30 p.m. Mass, which Brian concelebrated with Richard Mucowski, OFM, the new pastor, assisted by Deacon Nick Valdez. A dinner party followed downstairs in the Fr. Patrick Morris Hall. More than 150 people attended, including Christopher Keenan, OFM, and Msgr. Lewis Papera, pastor of Corpus Christi Church, in nearby Hasbrouck Heights.
“Everyone enjoyed the festivities that included musical entertainment and a video slideshow of photos parishioners had taken throughout Brian’s pastorate,” said Patsy Baghdo, who was part of the party planning committee. A trivia game, “Fun Facts About Fr. Brian,” challenged guests with multiple-choice questions about his life, Baghdo said. Postcards, showing downtown Boston and a photo of Brian, provided the opportunity to keep in touch with him. Afterward, Brian thanked everyone for not only attending the party but also for being a part of his life these past nine years.
Brian said he enjoyed his assignment at Assumption. While at the parish, he participated in various committees and said he is especially proud of several projects.
“The people of Assumption were very open to new ideas and possibilities of making the parish look its very best,” Brian said. “I’m pleased with the new St. Francis Garden that we created between the friary and the church. Shortly after arriving, I changed the front entrance of the friary and made it very welcoming, with a lot of glass and even a beautiful piece of stained glass in the inside door. I thoroughly enjoyed working in the school. We had it painted three times, replaced a boys and girls bathroom with all new fixtures, floor, plumbing, and made it all handicap accessible.”
Brian had served New Jersey parishes for 22 years.
“Before Assumption, where I served from 2002 to 2011, I was at Holy Angels Church, Little Falls, N.J., for three years. Before that, I was pastor at St. Leo’s in Elmwood Park from 1989 to 1999.”
The farewell celebration gave the parish the opportunity to wish the Washington, D.C., native success in his new assignment as assistant executive director of St. Anthony Shrine and Ministry Center in Boston.
His key responsibilities at St. Anthony Shrine are to help James Kelly, OFM, who is being officially installed this weekend as director of the shrine, “in all aspects of the workings of the shrine with our 19 outreach ministries. When Jim is not here, I make sure that all is working and running as smooth as possible. To be sure, this is a big task, but one I am thoroughly enjoying.”
Next month, Assumption Parish will hold a goodbye and thank you reception for Paul Sinnema, OFM, who moved from Wood-Ridge to Butler, N.J., this summer. It is scheduled for Nov. 20, Baghdo said.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.