Saint Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology

Formation and Education for the Life of the Church

Alumni Obituaries

Father Richard Mullen

The Rev. Richard L. Mullen, 92, of Champaign died at 2:40 am on Friday,
March 23, 2018 at home.

The visitation will be held on Tuesday, March 27 from 4-7 pm at the Holy
Cross Parish Center (405 W. Clark, Champaign) with a parish wake service
beginning at 7:30pm. Funeral services will be held at 11am on Wednesday, March
28 at Holy Cross Catholic Church, where Fr. Mullen served as pastor for 13
years. The Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky CSC, D.D. will officiate. The Knights
of Columbus will serve as the honor guard. Burial will be in St. Mary’s
Cemetery, Champaign. Owens Funeral Home is handling arrangements.

Father Mullen was born December 17, 1925, in Urbana, the youngest of 6
children of Robert E. and Katherine A. Mullen. His family lived in Farmer City
until moving to Bloomington in 1937, where he attended Trinity Grade School and
Trinity High School, graduating in 1943.

Father Mullen began his college studies at the University of Illinois in
1943 but after enlisting in the Naval Reserve in February 1944, continued his
college education at Indiana State University, where he played football.
Feeling the call to serve his country, Father Mullen joked that he chose the
Navy because he knew he “would always have a nice place to sleep and three
meals a day.” He didn’t realize he would suffer from seasickness.

Father Mullen served in the hospital corps during the occupation of Japan.
Released from the Navy in 1946, he returned to the U of I, where he received
his degree in journalism in 1948. While there, he was a member of Phi Delta
Theta fraternity and became a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus.

While working as an editor of the Rantoul Press in 1948 and 1949, the call
to the priesthood that had begun while he was in the Navy, grew louder. He
entered the seminary in 1948, receiving a philosophy degree from St. Ambrose
University in Davenport, IA and continuing his theology studies at St. Meinrad
Seminary in Indiana.

Father Mullen was ordained a priest on May 29, 1955. His first assignment
was as an assistant at St. Mary’s Parish, Moline, under then-Vicar General
Monsignor James B. Reidy. In 1957 he was appointed chaplain of Guardian Angel
Home, Peoria. While in this position he taught at Bradley University and the
School of Nursing of St. Francis Hospital, both in Peoria.

A highlight of his tenure at Guardian Angel was the advent in 1962 of a
contingent of Cuban children fleeing the Communist rule of Fidel Castro, who
had recently installed himself as dictator. Father Mullen ministered to them
and helped oversee their education. They showed their appreciation 47 years
later when they held a reunion in Champaign, where Father Mullen was then

In 1965 Father Mullen began a two-year stint as an assistant chaplain at
St. John’s Chapel and Newman Foundation at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign. It’s long-serving director was the legendary Monsignor Edward
J. Duncan. Father Mullen’s first pastoral assignment was to St. Michael’s
Parish in Bement. He served there five years before being named executive
director of the Diocesan Personnel Board and associate editor of The Catholic
Post in 1972-1973. He held those positions for 10 years.

Upon returning from a sabbatical at Vatican II Institute of Menlo Park, CA,
Father Mullen spent 5 months as administrator at Sacred Heart Parish, Farmer
City and St. John’s Mission, Bellflower.

In 1984, Father Mullen became the pastor of Holy Cross Church in Champaign,
his home parish during both his time in the Navy and the seminary. During his
nearly 14 years at Holy Cross he touched the lives of scores of parishioners
with his quiet yet effective spiritual leadership.

Among physical accomplishments to the parish during his tenure were the
demolition of the old school, the transplanting of the old rectory to The
Center for Women in Transition, the remodeling of a rental property into a
rectory, an addition to the school, the construction of the parish center, and
the restoration of the priceless stained glass church windows.

Besides his parents, Father Mullen was preceded in death by 3 sisters and 2
brothers. He is survived by 4 nephews and 6 nieces.