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Fr. Bill Sheldon – A Life Entwined With the Daughters of Charity

It surprised me but shouldn’t have. As I reflected on the life of Fr. Bill Sheldon, I first thought of him as my gentle teacher during my days of formation from 1959 through 1965. But then I thought of his many connections with Daughters of Charity.

  • Born as the depression was beginning to hit, his mother was forced to entrust him and his sister Ellen to a home of the Daughters of Charity.
  • Both remained ever devoted to them all their life. He as Fr. Bill and she as Sr. Ellen, DC.
  • For a time he served as their chaplain and professor at their Provincial Motherhouse in Emmitsburg, MD.
  • In mid-life he shepherded cause for canonization St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
  • He, with Sister Eleneor McNabb, DC, successfully championed the first canonization ever held outdoors in St. Peter’s Square.
  • In 2008 he again served them as Chaplain at their Provincial headquarters and retirement facility in Albany in his last ministry before coming to St. Vincent’s Seminary
  • At the end of his life, four Daughters served as honorary Pall Bearers at his funeral.

His truly was a life entwined with the Daughters of Charity from beginning to end.

He was the last surviving member of a group that began in 1939. He was one of the 8 priests who were eventually ordained with him in 1952.

In his homily at the Mass of the Resurrection former Superior Robert Maloney shared his memories of Timothy had lived together.

We lived together-in three different houses – for 21 years: first at Northampton, where he was my teacher; second, in Rome, where he had the dubious distinction of being the local superior in a house that lodged the Superior General and several combative Assistants General. We lived here in the final years of his life as he entered deeper and deeper into that mysterious zone of human consciousness where memory gradually disappears.

He captured much more of him with three points.

  • Bill’s gifts were often underappreciated.
  • Bill had notable gifts.
  • Bill learned from Jesus to be gentle and humble of heart.

He concluded his homily with

In every Eucharist, we cry out, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” “It is right to give him thanks and praise.” In every Eucharist, including those for the dead, we give thanks. So today we give thanks to God for Bill.
How good it is, my brothers and sisters, that we are here today. We believe that in death we will no longer see sacramental signs but will be absorbed in the reality that they signify. As the Book of Revelations puts it so eloquently, we believe that we will one day see and love the Lord face to face.

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