Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Father Denis Dullea, far right, attends a Mass for retired priests at St. George Village, Roswell, during the summer of 2010. Fellow priests in attendance include (l-r) Msgr. Stephen Churchwell, vicar for senior priests, the late Father Jack Druding, senior priest Msgr. Bill Hoffman and the late Father Edward O'Connor.


Irish born priest remembered for healing, prayer ministries

By JEAN DRISKELL, Special to the Bulletin | Published March 22, 2018

ATLANTA—The Mass of Christian Burial for Father Denis Dullea, a longtime priest of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, was held at the Cathedral of Christ the King, Atlanta, on March 8.  Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory was the principal celebrant with Msgr. Francis G. McNamee, rector for the Cathedral, and several other priests of the archdiocese concelebrating.

Father Dullea’s sister, Sister Hannah Dullea of the Sisters of Nazareth, and the priest’s friend, Angela Doud of St. Peter Chanel Church, Roswell, were the readers. Deacon Ray Egan proclaimed the Gospel, John 12: 24-26.

“Individual grains of wheat regularly fall to the ground,” Archbishop Gregory said, basing his homily on the Gospel. “Every grain must fall to the ground to take root and to grow into the harvest that the Lord demands from them.”

“Denis Dullea lived a long and fruitful life as a priest of Jesus Christ,” he said. “His ministry touched unknown numbers of people.”

Archbishop Gregory continued, “Because Denis falling to the earth was a gradual and gentle process, I pray that we had many opportunities to visit him and tell him the things of the heart that brought him and us so much comfort.”

Calling Father Dullea a gentle soul, he said, “We believe that such cherished grains of wheat ought not to fall unnoticed. We speak to the One who causes all life to blossom to be gentle with our brother, priest and friend.”

Archbishop Gregory spoke about Father Dullea’s love of praying the rosary.

“He had a deep and active devotion to the Blessed Mother,” said the archbishop. “Perhaps this specific part of his devotional life gave him the aura of being such a man of serenity. His frequent conversations with the Mother of God in prayer gave him a deep personal serenity of soul.”

He said that Father Dullea’s struggles and challenges of heart and mind “never seemed to be greater for him than his love for Christ and the Church.”

Archbishop Gregory said that people want priests to be gentle, present, trustworthy ministers with compassionate hearts, to have a sense of humor and zealous spirit, and to accept them as they are and invite them to become more than they are.

Father Dullea “fulfilled those hopes and expectations for countless thousands of folks here in north and central Georgia and in New England where he lived for a number of years,” he said.

Archbishop Gregory thanked the clergy and the faithful who ministered to Father Dullea during his illness.

“Some of you came to pray with him in the quiet of his room. You helped him to speak to God. Thank you for all that you did for this fine man of faith,” he said.

“I knew when I spent time with him you were in the presence of greatness and goodness,” said Mary Uhrik, of St. Peter Chanel Church.  “He was very, very humble. He would not ask anything from anybody. People just adored him.”

Father Denis F. Dullea
Photo By Michael Alexander

Uhrik said that she met and got to know Father Dullea when she brought neighbors and friends to him at a cancer support group. She said it was a ministry “he was very involved in. He would pray over people and bless them.”

“Even though he had medical issues, that did not stop him from praying over people and continuing to do his great ministry, ministry of healing. He gave so much hope to people who had illnesses,” Uhrik said.

She said that he gave people hope for healing.

“When he laid hands on people, he said he was doing this as Jesus would. He would also ask the saints to intercede,” she recalled.

Uhrik said that the priest was active at St. Peter Chanel Church with the Fideles Ministry where he prayed the rosary with the men on Monday nights and at nearby St. George Village on Wednesdays. He also was involved with the Marian Movement of Priests Cenacle where he prayed the rosary with the women on Thursday nights.

The day Father Dullea died, Uhrik said that she joined the Cenacle group in his room and prayed the rosary with them. She was told he died peacefully.

“I was impressed by Father Denis’ prayerfulness,” said Msgr. Peter Rau, pastor of St. Peter Chanel. “He was a holy priest, a gentle soul. He was at Mass every day. He had a great memory, especially remembering people’s names. He was also a staunch Notre Dame fan. He loved American football.”

Msgr. Rau said that people would come and ask for prayers and blessings from Father Dullea.

“He had a healing ministry to help people know the Lord and Blessed Mother,” he said. “I believe he brought healing to people, both spiritually and physically. Many of my parishioners would come to him to be prayed over.”

He also said that Father Dullea would help people in their last days to transition over to meet the Lord and bring them peace.

“Father Dullea was wonderful. He prayed over people, and they were healed,” said Lisa LaMond, parishioner of St. Peter Chanel. “He had a special devotion to the Blessed Mother and started a lot of rosary clubs. He was a very humble priest.”

Father Dullea was born Jan. 28, 1935, in Cork City, Ireland. He died Feb. 25 at the age of 83.

In a 2016 commentary on discerning his vocation, Father Dullea wrote that it was halfway through college when he became serious about becoming a priest and prayed with great intensity to the Blessed Mother to show him God’s will.

He was ordained a priest on June 10, 1961, by Bishop Thomas Keogh, Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin, Ireland.

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 Seton Mission, then in Manchester, and the chaplain at DeKalb General Hospital in Decatur. His other assignments included as parochial vicar at St. Jude 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 is survived by his sisters, Sister Hannah Dullea, Plymouth, England; Eileen O’Neill, Las Vegas, Nevada; Nora Dullea, Rialto, California; Catherine Wire, Riverstown, Cork, Ireland; and his brothers, Charles Dullea, The Lough, Cork, Ireland; and John Dullea, Swindon, England.

“He was a beloved priest of God who through his love of the Blessed Mother prayed tirelessly for people’s healing,” said Abbie Byron-Goslin, memory care coordinator at St. George Village where Father Dullea lived in retirement.

“He never gave up interceding for the church,” said Byron-Goslin. “He remained a humble servant to Our Lord and Lady through which they worked miracles. He healed people not just here but in Ireland also.”