Monsignor with Irish roots to lead Greenwich’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade
GREENWICH — Monsignor J. Peter Cullen, from St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Greenwich, will serve as the grand marshal for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in town, the Greenwich Hibernian Association announced Tuesday morning.
The parade will step off at 2 p.m. March 24. Cullen earned high praise from the association for his work in the community and deep Irish roots.
“Monsignor Cullen has been a long time leader in the Diocese of Bridgeport and the Catholic School in Greenwich,” said James Dougherty, publicity chairman for the association. “He served as pastor of St, Michael Church in Greenwich through a very difficult time and helped rebuild the parish community. Monsignor continues to be involved in the community as both local and state chaplain for the Knights of Columbus. He takes pride in his Irish ancestry and will be a great Grand Marshal for this year’s parade.”
Cullen will also be honored on March 2 at the Greenwich Hibernian Association’s annual St. Patrick’s dinner and dance.
Born in Boston, Cullen and his family moved to Greenwich in 1958 while he was a college student. He continued his studies and received a bachelor of arts and his master’s degree in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Maryland. He also has a doctorate of ministry from the Jesuit School of Theology in California and a certificate of intercultural communication from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico.
He was ordained in 1967 and initially was assigned to work in Puerto Rico before being moved to Bridgeport, where he worked in the Hispanic Apostolate and was an active member of the city, serving on both the Affirmative Action Agency of Bridgeport and the City Board of Fire Commissioners. He was then moved to New Canaan where he was a pastor for 17 years and in 2007 he was sent to Greenwich, where he was pastor at St. Michael’s until his retirement.
During his time in Greenwich, Cullen was also the chair of Greenwich Catholic School. His honors include being named the vicar general and moderator of the curia for the Bridgeport diocese. That gave him the responsibility of assisting Bishop William Lori in governing the diocese and in coordinating the diocese’s staff.
“Monsignor has very strong Irish roots,” the Hibernian Association said in a statement. “His Irish ancestors include the Cullen, Collins, Nawn and Curley families. His Cullen ancestors came from Ireland to Boston in the 1850s. His ancestors came from counties Roscommon and Cork.”
Final details are being arranged for the parade but it is expected it will follow its traditional route down Greenwich Avenue. The parade is traditionally one of the best attended events in town during the year.