Father Michael J. Tumulty, C.M., who served in a variety of capacities at Niagara University over the course of 42 years, passed away Saturday, Nov. 26, at St. Catherine's Infirmary in Philadelphia. He was 89.
Born in New York City, Father Tumulty entered the Congregation of the Mission in 1944 and was ordained in May 1951. That same year, he was assigned to Niagara University as an English instructor, a role he would serve in for the majority of his career at NU. Father Tumulty had been assigned to Niagara on two other occasions, also acting as a prefect of discipline and registrar.
Besides NU, Father Tumulty held teaching positions at St. Joseph's Preparatory Seminary (Princeton, N.J.) and St. John Vianney Seminary (Miami).
A 1944 graduate of St. Joseph's College (Princeton, N.J.), Father Tumulty earned master's degrees in English (St. John's University) and religion (Barry College), and possessed a Ph.D. from St. John's University.
The Mass of Christian burial was celebrated Tuesday, Nov. 29, in the Community Chapel of St. Vincent's Seminary, during which the Rev. Vincent J. O'Malley, C.M., former senior assistant to the president at Niagara University, preached the homily.
Father O'Malley's homily appears below:
Father Michael Tumulty will be remembered by thousands of people for his enthusiasm and encouragement. And many of us confreres will remember Father Tumulty for his prayerfulness.
May I cite three examples: from the classroom, the confessional, and the community chapel.
•The classroom. During Father Tumulty's 60 years of priesthood, he spent all his active years teaching - in three institutions: Niagara University, where he spent more than 40 years; St. Joseph's Seminary at Princeton; and St. John Vianney Seminary at Miami. Did anybody ever meet a more enthusiastic and encouraging teacher than Father Mike Tumulty? From my days as a student at Princeton and as a fellow faculty member at Niagara University, I remember his wide smile, his passion for teaching, his excitement for learning and his constantly encouraging ways and words, especially, "Bravo, bravo." One of my priest-friends recalled that Father Tumulty was always encouraging in his marginal comments, identifying whole paragraphs as "excellent, excellent" and then still giving a grade of "C."
At Niagara University, after Father Tumulty officially retired from teaching, fellow professors would notify him that certain students needed extra tutoring. Other faculty would send needy students to him. Time and time again, we would see Father Tumulty tutoring individual students on the front porch at Meade Hall. A certain round table on the priests' porch would be piled high with books that belonged to Father Tumulty and his tutorial students. When he finished his instructions, he oftentimes invited these students to the priests' dining room for a snack, or lunch, or dinner.
•The confessional. Confreres who live at the motherhouse have mentioned to me that Father Tumulty had many regular penitents. Confreres have mentioned that these faithful souls will miss him very much. They remain very grateful to Father Mike Tumulty for his presence, patience, practical advice and constant encouragement. Be assured these faithful penitents are praying for him as we celebrate this Mass.
•The community chapel. At Meade Hall, I remember precisely Father Tumulty's favorite place in the chapel. As the rest of us confreres would enter the front doors of the chapel, Father Tumulty could be found in the top pew, far right-hand side. He was there every day for morning prayer and evening prayer. It was a very safe bet that Father would be there, and that he would be there before the rest of us.
I asked various confreres here at the motherhouse what words they would use to describe Father Tumulty. The men replied: "Compassion, gentle, a gentleman, reserved, helpful, popular with the alumni, affable, long-suffering without complaint, conscientious, always positive."
As I think of Father Tumulty's death and resurrection, I imagine him joining in heaven God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; St. Vincent de Paul (Father Tumulty came to the Vincentians at St. John's Prep in 1938 and has been with the Vincentians ever since); Father's parents; his predeceased four brothers and sister; and many priest-friends, especially Father Knobby Walsh, Father Frank Prior and Father Tom Concagh. And upon his death, as Father Tumulty approaches judgment, I expect that the Blessed Mother will join him arm-in-arm to meet Jesus, who mysteriously is All-Just and All-Merciful. We pray every day in the Hail Mary, "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen."
Father Tumulty selected today's three readings. All three speak about "death as our entry into heaven."
2 Maccabees 12: If he (Judas Maccabee) were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. But he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness.
2 Corinthians 5: We walk by faith, and not by sight. We are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord. Therefore, we aspire to please Him.
John 14: Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. I have told you I am going to prepare a place for you. ... I will take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.
Life after death is our faith, our hope and our joy.
Faith. Although we cannot see heaven with our physical eyes, we envision Heaven with the eyes of our soul. We believe that at the end of earthly existence, "life is change, not ended."
Hope. We place hope in Jesus' words and resurrection. We hope in a future life because God has kept all his promises so far. We expect God to keep, too, the promise of eternal life.
Joy. Joy results from the experience of harmony. In Heaven, we will be in harmony with God and everyone else in the communion of saints. In Heaven, we will experience everlasting joy.
We thank God for the life and contributions of Father Michael Tumulty. We thank his parents and family for sharing him with the Church and the Vincentian Community. For 60 years, Father Tumulty served God as a priest; thousands of students and penitents; and the confreres will remember him fondly and will miss him dearly. May he rest in peace.
To repeat the words of Jesus' promise, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. I have told you I am going to prepare a place for you. ... I will take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be."
Memorial donations may be sent to the Congregation of the Mission, 500 E. Chelten Ave., Philadelphia, PA. 19144.