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Beloved Monsignor Mulllins celebrates 99 years

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Assisted by Michael Digges, the Archdiocesan Executive Director, Administration and Finance, Monsignor William Mullins blows out the candles at his birthday celebration on 12 April before chatting with staff of the Polding Centre. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Assisted by Michael Digges, the Archdiocesan Executive Director, Administration and Finance, Monsignor William Mullins blows out the candles at his birthday celebration on 12 April before chatting with staff of the Polding Centre. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

Monsignor William Mullins, a beloved figure of the Archdiocese of Sydney, turned 99 on 23 March and the eldest priest in the Archdiocese of Sydney says the reasons for his longevity are good genes and keeping active.

Only last year Monsignor Mullins stopped attending the chancery offices regularly to celebrate Mass and fulfil a part-time administrative role.

At a birthday celebration attended by archdiocesan staff on 12 April, Bishop Terrence Brady praised the senior priest’s “tremendous sense of humanity and depth of spirituality”.

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“Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do,” he said.

Monsignor Mullins said he had loved serving the archdiocese after returning from two decades working in the Roman Curia.

Prior to becoming a priest he had a “wonderful life” ministering as a De La Salle brother for many years. Born in Sydney in 1924, he joined the congregation when he was 14 after studying at De La Salle College in Ashfield.

“From 14 to 99, that’s not a bad record,” he said.

“But the Lord has directed me over these years. The years after Vatican II were a very privileged time with many possibilities. I never once applied for a promotion in all my life. There were always people behind me supporting me and when a door opened and I was offered a role I was always happy to say ‘yes’.

Monsignor William Mullins speaks to those who attended the birthday celebration on 12 April. Photo: Alphonsus Fok
Monsignor William Mullins speaks to those who attended the birthday celebration on 12 April. Photo: Alphonsus Fok

“So I’ve been very blessed in the people around me, including the De La Salle brothers to whom I owe so much, and the many good friends and superiors I have had over the years.”

In 2013 the indefatigable monsignor published his memoir From Brotherhood to Priesthood.

A talented teacher and theologian with a deep love for scripture, he taught students from primary to tertiary levels before his ordination in 1975 and then as a seminary professor.

He has a BA from the University of Melbourne, MEd from the University of Sydney, and MA and PhD from the Catholic University of America (Washington DC).

In the years between 1970 and 1990 during the papacies of Popes Paul VI and John Paul II he served in Rome for 15 years as an official of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, first as a brother and later as a priest.

He also knew former Pope Benedict XVI when he was named Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and served as the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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