Sullivan Steps Down After 13 years at Catholic Charities

Deacon Tim Sullivan has submitted his resignation after heading Catholic Charities since 2000, a tenure during which the Tulsa attorney led the first-ever capital campaign for the extensive non-profit agency that ministers to the poor in the Diocese with a strong spiritual component.
“I am grateful to Tim for his dedication and professional service to Catholic Charities andregret that he has decided to resign,” Bishop Edward J. Slattery said in an Oct. 19 memorandum to all priests and deacons.
“However, Catholic Charities is in a period of transition, as we have just completed a capital campaign for a new campus and hope to provide even greater service to the poor of eastern Oklahoma. Catholic Charities has never been in a stronger position spiritually, fiscally and professionally. Now the Board of Directors must assist me in a search for a new executive director, which may take several months.”
On Oct. 20, two days after he told Catholic Charities staff members of his decision, Deacon Sullivan responded to questions from the EOC about the major changes he has seen since taking the helm seven years ago.
“Doing good for more people than ever before, which resulted from being more flexible and creative and having more resources due to the great support of the clergy and laity,” was the first achievement Deacon Sullivan cited.
Another important accomplishment is “the great good resulting from the Xavier Medical Clinic, thanks to the generosity and adaptability of our partner, Saint Francis Hospital.” He said the program “was a direct result of prayer, as there was a great need to assist women in eastern Oklahoma who were receiving no pre-natal care.”
Catholic Charities programs have witnessed an even stronger pro-life focus, and there has been more emphasis on the spiritual needs of clients and the spiritual formation of the Charities staff, Deacon Sullivan said.
Finally, he mentioned the building project and capital campaign for a new, centralized campus for all Catholic Charities programs except St. Joseph Residence. Currently, the ministries are housed in several deteriorating buildings near downtown and in north Tulsa.
The new campus at Apache Street and Harvard Drive will provide clients with a one-stop facility where their different needs – emergency food assistance, housing, counseling, immigration and other legal difficulties and other services – will be available.
Although the capital campaign raised about $18 million in pledges and actual donations, “there is more left to do. We hope that ground will be broken this coming spring. The construction should take 14 months or so, which puts occupancy in the summer of 2009,” Deacon Sullivan said.
Although he said he feels strongly that the Holy Spirit is leading him in a new direction, the decision to leave just as the campus project approaches construction “is very sad for me. The timing isn’t so great in many ways. But I believe God has a new assignment for me.”
Deacon Sullivan, who as a private attorney practiced mostly banking, real estate and business law, said he hopes to stay in Tulsa and knows of some opportunities locally that he would be interested in, “but I have no specific plans. I would prefer to stay in Tulsa. We have family here, and I love the people and clergy of the Diocese.”
Connie Sullivan, the deacon’s wife who retired last spring after many years at Bishop Kelley High School, recently became coordinator of volunteers at Catholic Charities, and Deacon Sullivan said “I’m sure she would like to” continue those duties, depending on what opportunities open up for him.
The Sullivans have been parishioners of the Church of St. Mary since 1976, and they raised their six children here. The couple met when Mr. Sullivan was studying at Notre Dame, and his future wife was a student at an adjacent school for women, St. Mary’s College.
Deacon Sullivan initially came to work for the Diocese in 1994 as Family Life director. When he became executive director in September 2000, he held on to the family life position because he is “passionate about the Catholic ideal for marriage and family.” But in the spring of 2006, he reluctantly stepped down as Family Life director “because of all that was going on at Catholic Charities.”
That summer, he also relinquished a column he had been writing for the Eastern Oklahoma Catholic since 1996.
In leaving Catholic Charities, Deacon Sullivan thanked Bishop Slattery for his leadership and support and the Catholic Charities Board of Directors for their initiatives and dedication, the people of the Diocese for their generosity in terms of financial support and volunteer efforts, the Catholic Charities staff “for whom I have great affection” and the people outside the Catholic Church who have supported Charities’ work and its future.
Currently, Catholic Charities is in the middle of its annual appeal to fund the ministries in the upcoming year and soon will launch special projects geared to Christmas.
Plans also are in the works for the third annual Cooking Up Compassion fundraiser, another initiative launched during Deacon Sullivan’s tenure that has raised more than $1 million over the past two years to help with day-to-day programs for the poor.
“I wish Tim the very best and I know that all of you do, too,” Bishop Slattery said in his memorandum to the clergy. “Let us pray for one another and especially the poor to whom we are committed to serve.”

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