O’Shea, Rev Sean Joseph


November 27, 2017

Personal Info

  • Date of Birth: 25 November 1924
  • Place of Birth in Ireland: Ballyknockin, Mourneabbey
  • County: Cork
  • Education: Mount Mellory, Cappoquin and St Patrick College, Carlow
  • Date of Ordination: 4 June 1950
  • Place of Ordination: St Patrick College, Carlow, Ireland
  • Ordained by: Most Rev Thomas Keogh, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin

Diocesan Appointments

  • Chaplain – Mercy Hospital, Fort Scott – 10/28/1950 to 1/14/1954
  • Pastor – St Patrick, Fulton – 1/15/1954 to 5/15/1959
  • Pastor – Holy Trinity, Little River – 5/16/1959 to 9/9/1960
  • Pastor – Sacred Heart, Halstead – 9/10/1960 to 6/30/1967
  • Chancery – CCM Newton Deanery, Moderator, Newton 7/1/1963
  • Chancery – Diocesan CCD Board member, Wichita – 2/28/1967
  • Pastor – St Patrick, Kingman – 7/1/1967 to 6/27/1973
  • Pastor – Holy Cross, Hutchinson – 6/28/1973 to 8/20/1985
  • Chancery – Kingman Deanery, Vicar Forane, Kingman – 4/4/1974
  • Pastor – St Barbara, Chicopee – 10/29/1974 to 8/20/1985
  • Pastor – St Thomas Aquinas, Wichita – 21/1985 to 1/28/1999
  • Chancery – East Wichita Deanery, Dean, Wichita – 6/10/1997

Father O’Shea served the Diocese of Wichita for 67 years. When Father O’Shea was pastor at Sacred Heart in Hesston, he undertook a study of parishioners to ascertain why some families were laxed in their attendance. He hosted a Lenten mission and asked parishioners to identify previous members who might be interested in learning more about Catholicism. For five consecutive weeks, Father explained Vatican II documents dealing with the rights, responsibilities and duties of the laity as explained by the Council. He particularly stressed the missionary nature of the Church. Over 100 families were identified by parishioners and Father accompanied by a visiting missionary, Father James O’Connell, was determined to visit each home and make a follow-up call a few days later to promote faithful return to the church.

In 1995, The Catholic Advance published profiles of various parishes and it reported that under Father O’Shea’s leadership, St Thomas Aquinas School increased its enrollment 10 consecutive times growing from 292 to 629 students. The story went on to say that St Thomas was the fastest growing school on Wichita’s east side which required an expansion of classrooms to handle the increase in student enrollment.

After Father’s retirement in 1999, Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber said Father O’Shea had two dominant passions that held together his interior life: “evangelization and its companion, hospitality. These two passions together with that of beauty form a trinity that help to understand the inner working of Father O’Shea’s life and the outer workings of his ministry. This man of class, this priest for others, this lover of beauty, endures along with the eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ. This local church, this bishop and the ones before me, are indebted to Father O’Shea.”

While Father O’Shea became an American citizen, he never faltered in his love for his native Ireland and made periodic trips back to visit family and friends. He also loved history and genealogy and embraced technology so that he could participate in virtual visits and connect his family and friends with their Irish roots. Even in his 90’s, he was excited to have the newest iPhone and iPad so he could keep in touch from anywhere

  • Date of Death: 27 November 2017
  • Place of Death: Catholic Care Center
  • Age of Death: 93
  • Cause of Death: Complications from a head injury suffered in a fall while visiting California missions
  • Funeral Celebrant: Bishop Carl A. Kemme with Father John Sherlock providing the homily. Bishop Eugene J. Gerber provided remarks following the Rosary.
  • Burial: Ascension Cemetery, Wichita, Kansas 

View full story with footnotes.

This poem was written by Michael Ronayne, an Irish writer of many verses and poems, as a tribute to Sean O’Shea, a young Irish priest just ordained, on his way to the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, KS in 1950. It was put in his pocket by his father just before he boarded the Liner Mauretania heading for New York.