Published March 8, 2018
ATLANTA—Father Denis F. Dullea, a longtime priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, died Sunday, Feb. 25. Born Jan. 28, 1935, in Cork City, Ireland, he was 83 at the time of his death and resided at St. George Village in Roswell.
The son of Denis and Nora O’Sullivan Dullea, he attended St. Finbarr’s Seminary, Farranferris, Cork City, for secondary school, followed by St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, Ireland.
In a 2016 commentary on discerning his vocation, Father Dullea wrote, “It was not until about halfway through college that I got very serious about becoming a priest and prayed with greater intensity to the Blessed Virgin to show me what God’s will was for me and to do what he wanted me to do. By the time I finished college, I had my mind made up firmly to become a priest.”
He was ordained a priest on June 10, 1961, at St. Patrick’s by Bishop Thomas Keogh, of the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin.
Initially he had hoped to serve in nearby England so that he could see his parents more often. However, a friend of his family, Bishop Cornelius Lucey, of the Diocese of Cork and Ross, Ireland, asked him to consider going to the United States to serve under Archbishop Gerald P. O’Hara, who was then the bishop of the Diocese of Savannah-Atlanta. Father Dullea said that he prayed and thought about it and finally decided to go to Georgia “in blind faith.” After the split of the diocese in 1956, Msgr. P. J. O’Connor, the vocations director who was instrumental in recruiting priests to serve the Catholic Church in the South, brought Father Dullea to Atlanta after his ordination.
During his years of ministry, Father Dullea served as pastor of St. Joseph Church, Dalton, from 1967 to 1971 and as pastor of Sacred Heart Church, Milledgeville, from 1971 to 1975.
He was also priest-in-charge of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Mission, then in Manchester, and the chaplain at DeKalb General Hospital in Decatur. His other assignments included service as parochial vicar at St. Jude the Apostle Church, Sandy Springs; as chaplain at the Monastery of the Visitation, Snellville; as parochial vicar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Carrollton; as administrator at Holy Cross Church, Atlanta; and as parochial vicar at Holy Cross; St. John the Evangelist Church, Hapeville; St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta; and Sts. Peter and Paul Church, Decatur.
Father Dullea said that the Blessed Virgin Mary “took great care of me, her bambino. Jesus, of course, brought me to the priesthood” through her intercession. In 1978, he became a member of the Marian movement of priests, increasing his devotion to Mother Mary.
He said, “I am glad that Jesus made Mary my Mother at the foot of the cross just before he died.”
Father Dullea is survived by his sisters, Hannah Dullea, of Plymouth, England; Eileen O’Neill, of Las Vegas, Nevada; Nora Dullea, of Realto, California; Catherine Wire, of Riverstown, Cork, Ireland; his brothers, Charles Dullea, of The Lough, Cork, Ireland; and John Dullea, of Swindon, England.
The funeral Mass was to be celebrated at 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 8, at the Cathedral of Christ the King.
Donations in Father Dullea’s memory may be made to Archdiocese of Atlanta, Priest Retirement Fund, 2401 Lake Park Drive, SE, Smyrna, GA 30080 or online at https://archatl.com/offices/stewardship/make-a-gift/.