2012-05-03 / Front Page

1,000 mourners remember Sullivan family

Packed church seeks comfort amid grief
Eric Gross

Capt. Thomas Sullivan's hat and urns containing the family's remains are blessed. / Eric GrossCapt. Thomas Sullivan's hat and urns containing the family's remains are blessed. / Eric Gross Overcast skies greeted more than 1,000 somber mourners Saturday, who packed St. James Church in Carmel for the services for four members of the Sullivan family.

Thomas Sullivan, his wife, Donna, and two teenaged daughters, Megan, 17 and Mairead, 15, perished when their home caught fire at 2 a.m. last Tuesday and burned to the ground. Only the couple's son, Thomas Jr., 20, escaped the inferno after being awakened by his dad.

The elder Sullivan was a decorated member of the Larchmont Police Department. Three hundred police officers and emergency responders primarily from Westchester, with a handful from Carmel, lined Gleneida Avenue in front of the church as bagpipers played a solemn song.

Inside the church four urns containing the family's remains were blessed by Father Anthony Sorgie, pastor of St. James, while family members and friends delivered eulogies.

 

 

The sign outside St. James in Carmel, where 1,000 mourners gathered Saturday to remember the Sullivan family. / Eric GrossThe sign outside St. James in Carmel, where 1,000 mourners gathered Saturday to remember the Sullivan family. / Eric GrossJames O'Neill of Lake Carmel, president of the Putnam Stephen Driscoll Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, named after 9/11 hero Steve Driscoll, remembered Sullivan as a "great guy. He was a family man and a dedicated officer. This is a sad, sad day for everyone."

Putnam County Judge James Reitz prayed for the entire family and especially for the surviving son. "Tommy was left for a reason—to hold the family together," he said.

County Executive Mary Ellen Odell, a close family friend, remembered Thomas Sr. as a "gentleman who was funny with a great Irish sense of humor. Most of all Tommy was a family man who loved his wife, daughters and son more than anything. This is a very sad moment for each and every resident of our county."

When the services concluded the four urns were taken from the church by members of the Larchmont PD and after being blessed were placed in a hearse for their final ride.Pipers and motorcycle cops proceed along Route 52 beneath two large American flags as the services conclude. / Eric GrossPipers and motorcycle cops proceed along Route 52 beneath two large American flags as the services conclude. / Eric Gross

Earlier story, from Friday, 5-4-12:

Father Anthony Sorgie, pastor of St. James the Apostle Church in Carmel, is celebrating his 30th year as a priest. During that time, he has officiated over hundreds of funeral masses – but nothing like Saturday's planned service for four members of the Sullivan family.

In an exclusive interview, Father Sorgie said that several years ago he had the “unfortunate and sad occasion to bury a mother and child – but never four and not an entire family taken out. I feel so badly for young Tommy Sullivan – to lose your entire family in an instant with no preparation. The service will be an intense experience.”

Father Sorgie said a childhood friend of Tommy Sullivan Sr., Father Jim Teague, is a priest who will deliver the homily, while four family members will provide a reflection on each of the victims during the mass on Saturday.

Father Sorgie called any funeral an “emotional roller coaster. For me, Saturday will be extremely difficult. To pray the prayers and sing the songs will bring our faith to the limit, when one sees and experiences such tragedy.”

Sorgie predicted his church sanctuary, which has a capacity of 700, will be filled with mourners.  The service will be piped into a smaller chapel within the house of worship as well.

Services get underway at 9 a.m. when the four urns containing the cremated remains of Tommy, Donna, Megan and Mairead are carried into the church.

 

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