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placeholder Msgr. William Mullen, Vatican II advocate and innovative pastor, dies in Walnut Creek

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placeholder May 5, 2008   •   VOL. 46, NO. 9   •   Oakland, CA
Msgr. William Mullen, Vatican II advocate
and innovative pastor, dies in Walnut Creek

Msgr. William Mullen was founding pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek. His funeral will be celebrated there on Tuesday, May. 6.
file PHOTO

Msgr. William Mullen, the founding pastor of St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek and former pastor at Church of the Assumption in San Leandro, died April 29 in Walnut Creek. The priest, who retired from active ministry nearly a dozen years ago, was 85 years of age.

A San Francisco native, Msgr. Mullen studied at St. Joseph’s College in Mountain View and St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park and was ordained to the priesthood in 1947 in San Francisco.
During his first 18 years as a priest he served at parishes in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Vallejo, and at St. Felicitas Parish in San Leandro.

He was appointed to the newly created St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek in May 1965. During his tenure as founding pastor he became known as an innovator of family-centered liturgies and initiated a creative religious education program. He celebrated the first Folk Mass in the diocese.

He oversaw the construction of St. John Vianney Church, one of the first in the area designed to conform to Vatican II liturgy and architectural guidelines. Oakland Bishop Floyd Begin dedicated the church in 1967.

Bishop Begin named him a monsignor in 1975 and four years later he was appointed pastor at Church of the Assumption Parish in San Leandro. He retired from that post in 1987 and took up residence in Santa Maria Parish in Orinda.

During his years of active ministry, he also served as chaplain of the Pre-Cana and Cana programs, was the first chaplain of the Christian Family Movement, and was a member of the Pre-Seminary program. He was an assistant director of the Diocesan Council of Catholic Women of East Contra Costa County and a pro-synodal judge of the diocesan tribunal. He was the first director of the diocesan Family Life program and served on the diocesan School Board.

Being a priest brought deep meaning and joy to his life. “It has been a time of great happiness, great fulfillment, and I hope great service to the people of God,” Msgr. Mullen wrote last year on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination. “I have never regretted my choice and I’d do it all over again. The 60 years have gone by in a flash, and my gratitude to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is total.”

The funeral Mass will take place tomorrow (May 6) at St. John Vianney Church in Walnut Creek. His remains will be cremated and inurnment will take place at a later date.

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