Irishman was the oldest diocesan priest at 93
Father Sean O’Shea, the oldest priest in the Diocese of Wichita, died Monday night, Nov. 27, at 93. He was one of several priests who came from Ireland in the 1950s to serve in Kansas.
A funeral Mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. today, Friday, Dec. 1, in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, in Wichita.
John J. O’Shea was born on Nov. 25, 1924, at Ballyknockin Maurne Abbey in County Cork and studied for the priesthood at St. Patrick College in Carlow, Ireland. He was ordained there on June 4, 1950.
About six months later Father O’Shea was appointed chaplain of Mercy Hospital in Fort Scott. In 1954 he was named pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Little River. That was followed by pastoral appointments at Sacred Heart in Halstead in 1960; St. Patrick, Kingman, 1967; Holy Cross, Hutchinson, 1973; and St. Thomas Aquinas, Wichita, 1985. He retired on Jan. 28, 1999.
Fr. O’Shea served the Diocese of Wichita for 67 years, substituting at Masses for his brother priests until just recently.
Just after Fr. O’Shea’s retirement, Bishop Emeritus Eugene J. Gerber said the Irish priest 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,” Bishop Gerber said.
Anyone who knows Father O’Shea knows his priesthood will never retire, the bishop said. “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.”