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The beatification of Fr John Sullivan SJ

The date for the beatification ceremony of Blessed John Sullivan elect has been confirmed for Saturday 13 May in Gardiner St Church at 11am. This is the first ever beatification ceremony to take place in Ireland. Toni Witwer SJ, the General Postulator for the Jesuits who is overseeing the beatification of Fr John Sullivan SJ, came to Dublin recently. The Austrian Jesuit will assist with the governance matters attendant on the event and continue to work on issues arising from the  ultimate canonisation of Fr John.

In this interview with Pat Coyle from Irish Jesuit Communications, Fr Toni speaks about John Sullivan’s humility and the need for another miracle if he is to become a saint.

Regarding John Sullivan, the Austrian Jesuit says, “The miracles are coming from ordinary believers. For canonisation, we need another miracle after the beatification, meaning that John Sullivan would be considered as a saint in heaven and for the whole Church”. Speaking about the communion of saints, Fr Toni says “The Church is a Church of the living and the dead; we have a vocation from the beginning of the world and this vocation doesn’t finish with death. And so we pray especially to the saints in times of need and suffering, who have a deep relationship with God and who are known by us”.

In this interview, Fr Witwer talks about his last beatification ceremony in Japan of Justo Takayama Ukon, a samurai from the highest nobility who was very important for the Jesuit mission in the 16th and 17th centuries. Like St. Ignatius, he became ill after battle and had an inner conversion towards the Christian faith. He gave witness to his conversion to the people in his area, which led a great number of them to convert in turn. Records of his life came about through the many letters found in the Jesuit archives in Rome.

Regarding how Fr Toni sees his work, he says, “It’s about how God works in the person and through the person, to make visible the process of becoming an instrument in his hands. The servants of God, blesseds and saints, also make it possible to experience the deeper love of God, and indeed the incarnation of Jesus Christ is repeated in the saints”.

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