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Msgr Culkin Obituary

The Rev. Monsignor Francis J. Culkin died

Wednesday, March 28, 2016.  The well-known religious leader in Rome was 101.

The Rev. Philip Hearn said Culkin died peacefully and due to his age. He was retired and living at St. Mary’s in Rome, though still active at the church.

“He was a great man, a great priest who loved the community of Rome and serving the community of Rome,” said Rev. Hearn, who followed Culkin as pastor at St. Peter’s in Rome.

Culkin, who was pastor there for 19 years before turning over the role to Rev. Hearn, “was a great help to me at St. Peter’s and St. Mary’s,” the current pastor remembered today.

Culkin turned 101 on Sept. 18, 2015.

Culkin was the son of Irish-Americans, and had one sister. He graduated from St. Mary’s School and Fulton High School, then earned a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Fordham University. He studied for the priesthood at Christ the King Seminary at St. Bonaventure University and St. Bernard’s Seminary in Rochester. He was ordained a priest on June 3, 1944.

For more than four decades, Culkin served as parochial vicar of St. John the Baptist in Rome and St. John the Baptist in Syracuse, as well as pastor of the Immaculate Conception in Greene, St. Patrick’s in Jordan, and St. Peter’s in Rome. In addition, he served at St. Joseph’s in Lee Center, and was episcopal vicar of northwestern Madison and western Oneida counties. Culkin was also named an honorary prelate by Pope Paul VI in 1973.

Culkin was known for an active lifestyle and a sharp mind throughout the years. He exercised regularly and played golf well into his later years. His other sports love was football, and had a deep connection to its history in college. Culkin, self-described as too small to play college football, was the team manager at Fordham University. Playing on that team in 1936 was future pro Hall of Fame coach Vince Lombardi — one of the Seven Blocks of Granite, a famous group of offensive linemen who paved the way for a national title run that almost came to be. The team — at 5-0-2 — lost to NYU 7-6 in the season finale to derail a shot at the Rose Bowl. 

“I think Rome is in a pretty good shape and a good place to live in,” Culkin said in an interview with the Sentinel on his 100th birthday. “There’s a friendly atmosphere here.”