From the AP in Florida:
A Catholic priest reportedly died during morning Mass at a church near Tampa.
The website for the St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico says Monsignor John Scully died Friday while consecrating a holy ceremony. Scully had been a priest for 62 years.
A cause of death was not immediately released.
The church’s website says Scully was originally from the northeast but spent the majority of his time in the Tampa area ministering in a variety of areas.
The bishop of Tampa/St. Pete, Robert Lynch, had this to say on his blog:
I have just received word that Monsignor John Scully, a priest for sixty-two years of this diocese (and St. Augustine for twenty years prior to our formation) died this morning while concelebrating the morning Mass at St. Stephen’s parish in Valrico. The exact moment of his death occurred during the Institution prayers of the Mass or the “consecration” of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. It was precisely how he wished to go and would have scripted it had we any power over the time of our death. Monsignor Scully did so many things during his sixty-two years of priesthood, started parishes (St. Catherine’s, Largo and St. Michael’s, Clearwater (both named after his own mother and father) to name but two, schools and institutions…
..Suffice it to say for the moment, one had to have a stone heart not to appreciate his zeal, energy, and desire for souls. As our Diocesan Director for the Propagation of the Faith for many years, Monsignor Scully’s ministry took him to remote parts of the globe, baptizing and confirming, absolving and marrying. He gave his ministry not just to the people of the parishes to which he was assigned but to the world as well. As I digest the news, it is almost like a giant oak has fallen and a huge space has been revealed – one that will not be easy to fill, even though he has been retired for about ten years. When I would suggest to him that he had done enough, he would look at me as if I didn’t get it and tell me in effect, “heaven can wait.” It did until this morning and, John, rest there now in the peace you earned, reunited with your beloved mother, Catherine, and father, Michael and other members of your family. We are all a little better for knowing you.
UPDATE: The local Tampa newspaper has more reaction, and remembrances from those who knew him.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him…