Remembering Fr. Jerry Sheehy

Jerry cropToday, on March 9, 2015, is the 3rd anniversary of death of Fr. Jeremiah Sheehy (1957 -2012). Fr. Jerry, a member of the British-Irish Province, arrived in the Philippines with the first group of SCJ missionaries on May 17. 1989. His first assignment was in Dimataling, a remote parish in Zamboanga del Sur, in the Diocese of Pagadian. In 1991, he became the first superior of the Philippine Mission. Among his other assignments, he was the parish priest in Margosatubig, Zamboanga del Sur, the first Novice Master and an assistant parish priest in Bacolod in Lanao del Norte. He died just five days before his 55th birthday, five days before the birth anniversary of the Founder of the Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus – Fr. Leo Dehon and five days  before the Philippine District became a Region. He is remembered very much by all the SCJs, who had an opportunity to meet and work with him and by many people whom he served during his time in the Philippines and also in Vietnam, for his great sense of humor and big heart, especially for the poor.

Fr. Hugh Hanley, the former Provincial Superior of the British-Irish Province, reflecting on the life and death of Fr. Jerry wrote:

“…In my sermon I reflected on the suddenness of Jerry’s illness and death and made links with the word and symbols of the funeral liturgy, trying to find consolation for our sadness through our faith. Each of us had our own memories of him. I first got to know Jerry in my last year of formation when he came to the community as a novice. He had a great sense of humor, combined with great energy, which he could easily adapt to various situations and people. After his ordination he was very effective in working in youth ministry here before he committed himself to the new project to set up the Congregation in the Philippines. The first group that went there wanted Jerry to be the Superior…

…then eventually went to Vietnam as the first Superior of our new mission there. He was sorry to leave Vietnam, but his departure opened up possibilities of founding a community in China, which he had already explored, or going to Myanmar where there were plenty of vocations. Since coming back to the British-Irish Province eighteen months ago, he had been based at the parish of St John Ogilvie’s, Irvine, in Scotland, and at the same time looking after our nearby House of Prayer at Smithstone House, Kilwinning…

 …Last year Jerry had agreed, with the blessing of the General, to set up a new international community in London. We had already made contact with the Archbishop of Westminster. But God had other plans. We hope that Jerry will be as effective for us in eternity as he was during his humanity, and perhaps our younger members in the Philippines and Vietnam will be inspired in future years to come as missionaries to rebuild the church in Britain and Ireland and to continue the growth of the Dehonian charism in our islands…”