The Pontifical College Josephinum and Rector/President, Very Reverend Steven P. Beseau, share the sad news of the death of Monsignor Dennis F. Sheehan, STD, former Rector/President of the Josephinum, who died November 20 at the age of 82.
Ordained in 1963 for the Archdiocese of Boston, Monsignor Sheehan served as the Josephinum’s 10th Rector/President from 1986-1989. Prior to his appointment at the Josephinum, he served from 1981-1986 as the 4th Rector of Pope Saint John XXIII National Seminary in Weston, Mass.
Perusing our archives from the time of Monsignor Sheehan's tenure unearths evidence of a man who came to the Josephinum with energy, passion for his work, and a clear vision. "I have a vision for the Josephinum," he once wrote. "It is for a truly national center of priestly formation which embraces the universal Church. My vision includes excellence in education, depth in spiritual formation, and a spirit of commitment to the Lord and the Church."
While he embraced the administrative tasks required of a rector, Monsignor Sheehan felt that his fundamental role was "to lead those given to his care to a deeper knowledge and love of the Lord Jesus and lifelong commitment to priestly service."
During his three years as rector, Monsignor Sheehan led the Josephinum in celebrating its centennial observance, conducting a successful capital campaign, and completing many physical plant projects, such as the recovery of the "old library" into a usable space.
Alumnus Father Michael Houle '79, Director of Development from 1986-1989, reflected on his work with Monsignor Sheehan, recalling him as "a man not so much with an agenda, but with a vision of possibilities and the energy and drive to bring that vision alive." He spoke to all that Monsignor Sheehan was able to accomplish in only three years as rector. Some people "measure the impact and meaning of leaders on the basis of longevity of service," he wrote. "I prefer to think that, measuring by intensity and depth, one can appraise accomplishment more accurately. I'm convinced that good teachers accomplish the most...Good teachers guide and lead and model rather than instruct. [Monsignor Sheehan] was just that - a good teacher for those of us fortunate to journey with him."
In 1989, Monsignor Sheehan was recalled to Boston to serve as Director of the Archdiocesan Office for Worship. In words of farewell to the Josephinum community, he said, "This is a very special place. It has been a source of pride and happiness to serve here...If I have been able to contribute anything to the Josephinum's life and work, I am most grateful. But I take away at least as much of learning, growing and sharing from my life with you."
At the time of his death, Monsignor Sheehan was in-residence at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton, Mass, and was serving as a Trustee of Saint John’s Seminary in Boston. From reports of his longtime friends, he was convalescing at a nursing home from COVID-19 when he died unexpectedly. A private Funeral Mass for Monsignor Sheehan was celebrated on November 27th. Please join the Josephinum community in praying for Monsignor Dennis Sheehan. Requiescat in Pace.
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