The Right Reverend Celestine Cullen OSB, monk and Abbot Emeritus of Glenstal Abbey, and President Emeritus of the Congregation of the Annunciation, died on Wednesday 10 April 2019 at age 91, in the 72nd year of his profession and the 65th year of his priesthood.
Austin Brian Cullen was born on 6 July 1927. Both of his parents were medical practitioners in Cavan. Having attended Glenstal Priory School from 1939 to 1945, Brian began studying medicine at University College Dublin, but after one year he abandoned this track to enter the Glenstal community, taking the monastic name of Celestine. Brother Celestine madc his First Profession on 18 December 1947. Following studies in Dublin and Rome, he was ordained to the priesthood on 11 July 1954. Back in Ireland, Father Celestine taught French and Religion in the Abbey School. In 1961, he was appointed Headmaster, a post he held until 1979.
He was elected the third Abbot of Glenstal in December 1980 and was blessed as abbot on 1 February 1981. In September 1992, the General Chapter of the Benedictine Congregation of the Annunciation, meeting in Trier, Germany, elected him Abbot President, a post he held until 2004. During these years, he visited every community of the geographically far-flung congregation, from California to India.
Throughout his priestly life and his time as Abbot and Abbot President, Abbot Celestine had an active ministry preaching retreats to many monastic and other communities all over the world. Of particular interest was his pastoral care of a group of parents of former students of the school and their friends, for whom he preached an annual retreat and led several pilgrimages, especially to Rome. In retirement in Glenstal, a series of debilitating illnesses gradually restricted Abbot Celestine’s activities, and he spent the last years of his life in a nursing home at a short distance from the monastery. He died on the morning of 10 April 2019.
His body lay in repose in the Monastery Reception of Glenstal Abbey on Friday 12 April 2019, with removal to the Abbey Church at 5.00 pm that day and celebration of Vespers for the Dead. His funeral Mass was celebrated on Saturday 13 April at 12.10 pm, followed by burial in the Abbey Cemetery. We commend the peaceful repose of Abbot Emeritus Celestine Cullen OSB to the prayers of the Benedictine Confederation.