The Catholic Church in the Townsville Diocese has lost one of its finest priests with the death of Fr Michael (Micky) Mullins in Townsville on Wednesday, 16 June, 2004. Aged 87 years.
Fr Michael Mullins was a much loved and highly revered priest in the Diocese. His ministry touched the lives of many and his deep spirituality was an inspiration to all who knew him.
More than 400 people gathered at the Holy Trinity Church in Mundingburra on Sunday evening, 20 June, 2004 to pray for and share memories of their beloved friend, pastor and spiritual leader. A number of people shared memories of his life and ministry including his brother Pat, retired Bishop of Townsville - Bishop Ray Benjamin and priests, religious and lay people from the Diocese. Those present were afforded the opportunity to pay their last respects to Fr Mullins. His body lay in repose in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel in the Church.
On Monday, 21 June, 2004 more than 600 people packed the Holy Trinity Church in Mundingburra to celebrate the funeral liturgy for Fr Mullins at which Bishop Michael Putney presided together with Bishop Ray Benjamin and Bishop John Gerry (Brisbane) and forty priests from Townsville, Rockhampton and Cairns.
During his homily, Bishop Michael Putney paid tribute to a great priest who was passionate about his priesthood, deeply spiritual with a great sense of fun. Bishop Michael referred to Fr Mullins' strong humanity and hospitality reaching out to all whom he met, 'Everyone who knew Micky Mullins felt they were his best friend.'
Bishop Putney quoted extensively from a speech Fr Mullins had made twenty years ago to the young people of our Diocese in which he spoke of his life as a journey from his head to his heart, which he had to make because he had committed his life to Christ.
"…I had to set out on that journey shedding those things that hindered my commitment, getting rid of my sinfulness, my selfishness, my resentments, my hurts, my pride. Every day, I had to get up and start that journey again. Not in isolation, but in the midst of the world in which I lived - with all the temptations to conform to the standards of the world."
He spoke to the young people very beautifully about the priesthood and he located his priestly ministry in this fundamental commitment to Jesus Christ:
"… "Over the years, when I've been struggling to make this journey, I have found a happiness in my priesthood which I know (for me) no other way of life would have given me. I have found a fulfillment of my search for a meaning to my life. I have been given the opportunity to develop a personal relationship with Christ and it has brought me close to people - to His people and His world.
He added these words of encouragement for younger people:
"… "I've been speaking about the journey that I make to find this Christ, to try and understand Him and what He meant to me, and I've been on the journey for a long time, so don't be discouraged when you set out on the journey."
And then he spoke of his death and the events of these past few days. This is what he thought we might be doing and what he hoped from us:
"… "There comes a time when you say "Hey, death is approaching - it's not far off, even another 15 years is not far." Then I wonder, I say, "What will people say about me when I die?" I know some of the things they will say - some of them will be true, some of them won't be even near the truth. (I can see him thinking about all those memories at the Vigil last night.) But I hope they will say - the only thing I hope they will say, is that he loved God very much and that JESUS was THE PERSON in his life.
Fr Mullins was born at Ingham on 21 August, 1916. He received his primary education at the Hawkins Creek and Ripple Creek State Schools and with the Sisters of Mercy at St Peter's School in Halifax. He attended Mt Carmel Christian Brothers College in Charters Towers from 1932-1936. He entered St Columba's Seminary at Springwood at NSW in 1937 and in 1939 was sent to Rome to complete his studies at the Pontifical College for the Propagation of the Faith.
Fr Mullins was ordained a priest in Rome on 20 December, 1942 by Cardinal Fumasomi-Biondi in the midst of World War II.
Following the surrender of Italy and the signing of a armistice with the Allies and before the German occupation of Italy, Fr Mullins and nine (9) other young priests were able to leave Rome on a diplomatic plane to Portugal. After a month in Portugal they were able to secure a boat to Gibraltar from where they eventually made it to England.
Fr Mullins then spent three (3) months in England and another two (2) months with relatives in Ireland. He finally left Britain on 14 March, 1944 and arrived back in Sydney on 1 May travelling via New York and Panama.
On his return to the Diocese he was appointed Assistant Priest at the Sacred Heart Cathedral from May 1944 - February 1952. After a short stay in Charters Towers, he came back to the Cathedral as Administrator and stayed there until July 1959. After leaving the Cathedral he was appointed Director of Abergowrie College. In December 1960 when Fr Frank Rush, the Parish Priest of Ingham was elected Bishop of Rockhampton, Fr Mullins was appointed in his place as Parish Priest of Ingham where he remained until January 1975.
On 26 January, 1975 he was appointed Parish Priest at Mundingburra until 1986 following which he stepped down from the office of Parish Priest to become the Assistant Priest in Mundingburra until 27 January, 1990. He then served as a member of the Pastoral Team Ministry at Holy Family in Gulliver from 1990 to December 1996 when he retired to Villa Vincent Home for the Aged.
Fr Mullins served the Diocese of Vicar General from 1974 - 1997along with many other senior roles on various Diocesan Boards and Committees.
In 1981 he was instrumental in the establishment of the House of Prayer and Spirituality at Mundingburra in conjunction with the Sisters of St Joseph. He remained a member of the House of Prayer core group until 1998 encouraging the ministry of prayer, retreats and spiritual direction.
Fr Michael Mullins is survived by his brothers Frank and Pat and sister Julia Rockett.
Fr Mullins was buried at Belgian Gardens Cemetery in Townsville.