GREENWICH — For Msgr. J. Peter Cullen, it was a day to put the green in Greenwich, leading the 45th Annual St. Patrick’s Parade as grand marshal in a town he loved so much and served for many years.
Thousands lined the streets on a chilly and sunny March 24th with Monsignor walking beside his sister Colette Zito down Greenwich Avenue, followed by Irish dancers, marching bands, floats, bagpipers and contingents from different town groups along with the Greenwich police and fire and the EMS.
For 45 years, the parade has been presented by the Greenwich Hibernian Association. Msgr. Cullen was installed as the grand marshal at the organization’s annual St. Patrick’s dinner dance on March 2.
Monsignor’s Irish ancestors came from counties Roscommon and Cork and include the Cullen, Collins, Nawn and Curley families. In the 1850s, his Cullen ancestors came from Ireland to Boston.
Former pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Church on North Street, Msgr. Cullen was born in Boston, the third of five children, and his family moved to Greenwich in 1958. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theology from St. Mary’s Seminary and University in Baltimore. He later received a doctorate of ministry from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., and a Certificate of Intercultural Communication from the Catholic University of Puerto Rico.
Ordained in 1967, he was assigned to Puerto Rico and then St. Mary and St. Peter parishes in Bridgeport, where he served many years in the diocese’s Hispanic apostolate. He also was a member of the city’s Affirmative Action Agency and the City Board of Fire Commissioners.
He was pastor of St. Aloysius Church in New Canaan for 17 years, and in 2007 became pastor of St. Michael’s until he retired.
In 2002, Bishop William Lori named him vicar general and moderator of the Curia of the Diocese of Bridgeport. For more than 30 years, he has been a member of the Knights of Columbus and was awarded the honors of a Fourth Degree Knight in 1998. He is a member of the Father Myron V. Miller Assembly 1794 in Stamford and serves as the chaplain for the Connecticut State Council and chaplain of Orinoco Council 39 in Greenwich.