Father Gabriel Bullock
Born: Peoria, Illinois, March 25, 1934
Professed: July 11, 1955
Ordained: May 28, 1961
Died: June 10, 2016
Reverend Gabriel (Gary) Bullock, O.S.B. monk and priest of St. Bede Abbey in Peru, IL, died Friday afternoon, at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home, Lacon, after an extended illness.
He was born March 25, 1934, the son of Roy E. and Jane Morris Bullock, in Peoria, Illinois. He attended St. Patrick’s Elementary School and was a graduate of Spalding Institute where he was salutatorian of his class. After two years at the junior college at Saint Bede, he entered the monastery novitiate in 1954. He took his solemn vows on July 11, 1955, and was ordained a priest May 28, 1961. He received a B.A. in philosophy from St. John’s University and a master’s degree in English from the University of Notre Dame.
Fr. Gabriel served on the faculty of Saint Bede Academy as an English and religion teacher and a prefect in the boarding department, and later as moderator of the school newspaper and the yearbook. He performed weekend pastoral ministry to many parishes in the Illinois Valley and was active in the Illinois Valley Clergy Council. He was in demand as a retreat director, and served as confessor to the Academy students and to adults in spiritual direction.
Fr. Gabriel had the soul of an artist, which expressed itself in ways great and small, from his distinctive handwriting to his catering elaborate gourmet meals as an auction item for the academy. He designed and built sets for several plays, including Fr. Placid Hatfield’s productions of Macbeth and Othello. His marathon sessions (well-fueled by Hershey bars) for establishing the layout for the school yearbook were legendary, as was his love for the Iliad and the Odyssey, along with many other great works of literature.
Although often meticulous in his work, Fr. Gabriel was not given to organization or neatness, and successive superiors despaired of getting him to clean up his various storerooms throughout the abbey and the academy. His habit of falling asleep in a chair resulted in a curvature of the neck and spine, which contributed to his gradual decline in health, exacerbated by poor circulation in his legs. He received visitors regularly at the abbey and later in the nursing home, many of them grateful former students and colleagues, as well as many religious and laypeople whom he had counseled and befriended over six decades of educational and priestly ministry.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his sister Sharon Haney. He is survived by his siblings: Dave (Carol) Bullock of East Peoria; Sue (Joe) Thierer of Peoria; Mary Beth (Fred) Roedl of Bloomington, IN; Paul (Marti) Bullock of Dunlap; Dan (Laura Merrill) Bullock of West Newton, MA; Theresa (Pat) Chambers of Peoria; and 20 nieces and nephews.
A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated June 15 at the abbey church, with interment in the abbey cemetery.
Abbot Philip Davey, O.S.B. and community