Biographies

Father James A. Sheridan, MM

Born: June 13, 1914
Ordained: June 22, 1941
Died: October 26, 1985

Father Jim Sheridan died on October 26, 1985 at Phelps Memorial Hospital. He was 71 years old. He had been residing at the Development House in Detroit where he took sick an came to St. Teresa’s for treatment in the last week of September.

Fr. Jim was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on June 13, 1914. He was from a family of ten children of devoted Catholic parents. Jim learned the mystery of God and His love at an early age.

His first desire to become a missioner came through a Jesuit priest at his parish who was sent to work with the lepers in Cebu, Philippines. He went through high school and two years of college at C.U. before he felt that this desire to give himself to the Lord increased. His pastor advised him to write to Fr. James A. Walsh at Maryknoll. During his studies in Washington he caine upon Fr. Kaschmitter, who was studying there then. Fr. Jim states that it was Fr. Kaschmitter who made him fall in love with Maryknoll. He applied and was accepted Sept. 7, 1934.

Jim was ordained on June 22, 1941 and assigned to Kongmoon. Because of the troubled times he was not able to obtain a visa so he was sent to Los Altos where he was to study Japanese until February, 1942. After a short stint on Development he was assigned in 1943 to work in Chile where his mission career unfolded. In 1963 he arrived in the States on sick leave and in 1973 was assigned to the Detroit Development House.

Over the years Jim was plagued by bad health. Even from the beginning of his work in Chile his superior wrote: “Despite rather frail health, Jim covers on horseback a large and extensive parish. The way he gets around could and should be an example to men of more robust health.” Those who knew him well remarked that Fr. Jim was a quick moving person who put a lot of earnestness into his work. He was very energetic and tireless as a worker, very generous and an affable person who easily made friends and was very thoughtful.

Besides his pastoral duties he was very interested in vocations. He was named as Vocational Director in the Renaico and Temuco area. He undertook this work zealously and the local Chilean priests found him easy to meet and to talk with. It was during this time that he was requested to preach retreats in both Peru and Bolivia, which he generously did.

While back in the States he tried as much as possible to keep busy in his ministry as priest-chaplain. The Assistant Administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Mt. Clemens, Michigan wrote to the Superior General the following: “Father Sheridan has been a dedicated, conscientious, compassionate, and extremely hard-working member of the St. Joseph organization. I have never known him to refuse anyone his time or attention when the need has arisen. He has been sensitive to the needs of the patients and their families, and many individuals have commented on his Christ-like humility and wisdom in helping them through difficult times. A priest in every sense of the word, it is common to see Father at either of the hospital facilities at any hour of the day or night. Another point I feel merits discussion concerns his exceptional and moving celebration of the Mass. Fr. Sheridan’s homilies are both stirring and significant with unusual perception and insight.”

Among his many talents, Fr. Jim was a good communicator. He liked to write. While in Development he wrote a short history of Maryknoll in Detroit.

Father Jim was a Maryknoller and a man of God. He admitted his limitations and knew that his strength came from God alone. He was always conscious and desirous of fulfilling his missionary vocation. Reflecting on his vocation, he wrote: “And so it was that God spoke: ‘Follow Me’…not through an angel but through the example and actions of His many wonderful servants. His call to me was not to be a social worker, but to be an instrument of the peace He gives to the hearts of people who will hear and practice His supernatural truths. Yes, He did say: ‘Follow Me’…and after 42 years in the Maryknoll Foreign Mission priesthood I am glad I listened to Him. With all my heart I thank Him for having allowed so many great people to bring His message of supernatural service into my life.”

May he rest in the Peace and Joy of the Lord.