Around 1,200 people gathered to pay their respects to Bishop Walter Sullivan at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond Wednesday.
Sullivan served the Catholic dioceses in Richmond for nearly 30 years. The service was a somber, yet fitting tribute for a man who was widely respected for his religious leadership. Family, friends, and parishioners traveled near and far for the chance to pay their respects.
"Celebrate the fact that the Bishop is returning to his eternal reward and spending the rest of his life in heaven with our Lord Jesus," said Deacon Dave Geary.
News of Bishop Sullivan's passing last week, for many, hit hard.
"Shock, grief, upset, emotional. I still am," said Jacqueline Craft.
With his body present, those in attendance at his Mass of Christian Burial reflected on the good he did, and the way he treated others.
"Kind, warm-hearted, gentle, caring and nurturing," Craft added.
It's why so many people packed the cathedral to honor the spiritual leader who was vocal against the death penalty and supportive of gays in the Catholic Church.
"I really liked him as a Bishop. He was very liberal and understanding. I liked being a youth growing up under him. He was a great bishop," said Kaitlyn Lowenhagen who served in a youth group under Sullivan's jurisdiction.
The young and old alike recounting the upbeat nature, he shared, up until his death at 84 years old.
"He definitely got along with the younger crowd. He was always (saying), ‘hey, lets go out bowling tonight, just got done with work.' He would talk about Facebook and text messaging," Keristin Moyano said with a laugh.
Bishop Sullivan died last week after being diagnosed with liver cancer. He was 84-years-old.
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