The Diocese of Des Moines

Bishop Bullock dies
Bishop William Bullock
Bishop Bullock dies — 

Bishop Emeritus William H. Bullock dies
He had served Diocese of Des Moines for 6 years

Bishop Emeritus William H. Bullock, seventh bishop of the Diocese of Des Moines, died Sunday, April 3, just before noon at age 83 in Wisconsin after recently having been diagnosed with lung cancer.
He was a priest nearly 60 years, a bishop for more than 30 years.

“Please join me in praying for Bishop Bullock, his family and the people of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Diocese of Des Moines as well as the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin where he most recently served as Bishop and where he made his home during his retirement years,” said Des Moines Bishop Richard Pates.

Bishop Bullock came from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and was the first of three consecutive bishops from the Twin Cities to serve the Diocese of Des Moines. He served central and southwest Iowa from 1987 to 1993 before being appointed bishop of the Diocese of Madison, Wisc., where he served 10 years until his retirement in 2003.

Bishop Pates knew Bishop Bullock well.
“Both Bishop Bullock and I were from the Twin Cities and were blessed with a long-standing friendship,” said Bishop Pates. “The Bishop was a dedicated churchman, capable of making difficult decisions all the while enjoying a tremendous sense of humor.”

Bishop Pates noted that Bishop Bullock will be remembered for several accomplishments.

  • “He founded the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in West Des Moines.
  • The Bishop was a national leader in establishing a policy addressing sexual abuse in 1988.
  • He oversaw the creation of two outreach efforts of Catholic Charities: St. Joseph Emergency Family Shelter and St. Mary Family Center.
  • He also re-started a regularly delivered diocesan newspaper, which had been discontinued due to budgetary reasons.
  • He coordinated the purchase and establishment of the Catholic Pastoral Center at 601 Grand Ave. in Des Moines.”

“I just think he was very forward looking and was interested in serving people,” said his former chancellor, Larry Breheny. “He was very conscious of the poor and what needed to be done for them.”


“He was strong in liturgy,” said his former vicar general, Msgr. Larry Beeson. “He will be well remembered for his Confirmations.”

Father Tim Fitzgerald, who was master of ceremony for Bishop Bullock’s installation, concurred. “When it came to liturgy, he took it seriously and worked hard at it himself and wanted it to be the best possible.”

Msgr. Frank Bognanno, who served as a chancellor for Bishop Bullock, said he would be remembered for his pastoral letters on the sacrament of reconciliation and end-of-life issues.

Bishop Bullock returned to the Des Moines diocese twice recently. He was here for the 30th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Iowa and for the celebration of Msgr. Beeson’s 50th anniversary as a priest.

“As the Diocese of Des Moines celebrates its centennial, certainly, Bishop William Bullock is a figure to be applauded,” said Bishop Pates. “We are beneficiaries of the Bishop’s rich legacy which will have continuing impact for decades to come.”

For more information on Bishop Bullock, go to the Des Moines diocese’s webpage on him at bishop-bullock.cfm or the Madison diocese’s webpage on him at BishopWilliamBullockBishopEmeritus.aspx.