Msgr. John J. Sheehan


Msgr. John J. Sheehan, pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace parish on Staten Island for 10 years, died Sept. 15 at Staten Island Hospital. He was 77. A priest for 52 years, he had served for most of that time on Staten Island, where he had been the founding pastor of St. John Neumann parish. Auxiliary Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan, vicar general, celebrated the Funeral Mass Sept. 20 at Our Lady Queen of Peace. The homilist was Msgr. John M. McCarthy, pastor of St. Patrick's on Staten Island. Auxiliary Bishop Gerald T. Walsh, vicar of North Manhattan and pastor of St. Elizabeth's, celebrated the Mass of the Eucharist at Our Lady Queen of Peace Sept. 19, with Msgr. Peter G. Finn, rector of St. Joseph's Seminary, Dunwoodie, as the homilist. Msgr. McCarthy said in an interview that Msgr. Sheehan "will be remembered as a warmhearted, kind, gentle man never known to have had a harsh word for anyone." He added, "He was particularly concerned about counseling people who brought him troubles of any nature, and he had an innate instinct to help people who were poor." Msgr. Finn told CNY, "Msgr. Sheehan was among the finest priests that I've ever known. He was a holy, compassionate man." In his homily, Msgr. Finn mentioned that only a few weeks ago, Msgr. Sheehan returned from a hospitalization; he was very weak and was instructed to remain in his room. But when someone came to the rectory with "pressing needs," Msgr. Finn said, "he went downstairs with great effort to meet him. He could not refuse." Msgr. Sheehan encouraged young men interested in priesthood. Father Peter A. Pomposello, parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth's in Washington Heights, was a parishioner at Our Lady Queen of Peace before entering St. Joseph's Seminary. He said that Msgr. Sheehan always welcomed him back on visits. "He always had a place at the dining room table for me; when the seminary was on vacation, he always had a room for me at the rectory," Father Pomposello told CNY. Father A. J. Micciulla, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Sorrows in White Plains, grew up in St. John Neumann parish on Staten Island when Msgr. Sheehan was the pastor. "He showed us the human aspect of the priesthood," he said. Ordained last year, he added, "I celebrated my first Mass at his parish to honor him." Msgr. Sheehan was named parochial vicar at Our Lady Queen of Peace in 1995 and became pastor in 1996. Previously he was pastor of the newly established St. John Neumann, 1982-1995. He was administrator of St. Lawrence O'Toole in Brewster, 1976-1982, and of St. Sylvester's, Staten Island, 1971-1976, where he had been a parochial vicar, 1966-1971. He also was a parochial vicar at St. Mary's, Rosebank, 1962-1966, and Sacred Heart, 1954-1960, both on Staten Island; at St. Agnes, Manhattan, 1960-1962; and for the summer at St. Patrick's, Bedford, following his ordination on May 14, 1954. He was named a monsignor in March. Msgr. Sheehan was born in Manhattan and studied at Cathedral College and St. Joseph's Seminary. He completed the pastoral counseling program for priests at Iona College. He is survived by a sister, Sheila Cugell. Burial took place at St. Peter's Cemetery on Staten Island.