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Fr. Burnell Bisbee, SJ, right, and Fr. George Sullivan, SJ, center, celebrate their 40th anniversary as priests at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, Nebraska.
Jesuits Who Were Kindergarten Classmates Celebrate 40 Years of Priesthood Together

July 6, 2015 — Jesuit Fathers George R. Sullivan and Burnell Bisbee celebrated their 40th anniversaries as priests on June 14 at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha, Nebraska, commemorating the occasion with a Mass that also celebrated Fr. Sullivan’s retirement as assistant to Creighton Prep’s president. It’s not the first major milestone they’ve celebrated together in the past 71 years — that would be their kindergarten graduation.

Born three days apart in May of 1944, the two Jesuits met when they were 5 years old. They lived three blocks apart from each other in Omaha, attended kindergarten together, and were part of the same local Cub Scouts chapter.

As if that weren’t enough, they both enrolled at Creighton Preparatory School in Omaha when it opened in 1958, a school that would prove to be significant throughout their lives. They even carpooled together during their junior and senior years. And after graduation, they began their journeys with the Jesuits.

During formation, both men taught at Marquette University High School in Milwaukee and studied theology in California before returning to Creighton Prep. Fr. Sullivan taught there from 1975 to 1978, while Fr. Bisbee joined the faculty in 1976 and taught for 22 years.

In 1982, Fr. Sullivan became president of Creighton Prep, serving until 1989, when he moved to a position as vice president at the Gregorian University Foundation. For the next 17 years, Fr. Sullivan was able to travel all over the world, visiting 20 countries. He “got to meet the whole world,” Fr. Sullivan joked. 

Meanwhile, Fr. Bisbee grew deeply involved in the Creighton Prep community over the years. He coached pole-vaulting and wrestling, even continuing to officiate meets in Omaha while he did a two-year stint at Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. “Those were really long days, but I loved it,” he said.

 

Perhaps the most rewarding was his work as director of financial aid at Creighton Prep. Growing up in a family with five children, Fr. Bisbee’s family had struggled to pay tuition. “It was a privilege to be able to help other families to get through the same kinds of things that we had struggled with,” he said.

 

The paths of these two Jesuits continue to intertwine: Fr. Bisbee is now assistant to the superior of St. Camillus Jesuit Community in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, where Fr. Sullivan will move in the fall. “So we’ll be together again,” Fr. Sullivan said. [Source: Omaha.com





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