1946 – 2022
Brother Edward Sheehy, FSC
Born Edward John Sheehy in Brooklyn NY on 6 May 1946
Entered the Ammendale MD Novitiate on 15 June 1963
Received the Religious Habit and Name James Emeric on 1 September 1963
Pronounced Perpetual Vows in Baltimore MD on 22 October 1972
Died at De La Salle Hall in Lincroft NJ on 22 December 2022
WORDS OF REMEMBRANCE
Brother John Crawford, FSC
Mass of Christian Burial
De La Salle Chapel
La Salle University
Friday, January 6, 2023
Good afternoon. My name is Brother John Crawford and I serve as the Director of the De La Salle Community of Brothers on campus. On behalf of the Brothers of the Christian Schools I am grateful to each of you for joining us on this sad and solemn occasion as we gather in prayer and sacrament to say farewell to our Brother Edward Sheehy. I also extend to Brother Ed’s family the condolences of Dr. Daniel Allen, the President of La Salle University. President Allen was willing to change the plans he had made to be on the West Coast visiting potential alumni donors in order to attend this funeral. Knowing Ed, we assured President Allen that he should go ahead with his travel plans. Ed was such a strong and devoted advocate for the University that he would never stand in the way of anything that would advance its progress.
As Christians, our faith in Jesus Christ challenges us with the startling belief that death is not the final word. We place our hope in the assurance that Jesus, our Brother, fully human and fully divine, accepted death as a consequence of his humanity for our sake. His death, painful and humiliating, was not the end. It is in that blessed hope of resurrection that we glimpse at the true depth of God’s love for us. Death is not the end of our story, inescapable as it may be. We are intended for the joy of experiencing God’s holy presence forever. It is in that light that we gather today, saddened by the loss of our Brother Ed, but intently resting in the hope that he is not only at peace, freed of the pain of his illness, but more fully alive and more completely himself now, as he has joined with his loved ones who went before him, experiencing that magnificent joy of seeing the Lord face to face.
Funerals provide us with the opportunity to reflect and tell stories. Ed himself was an excellent story teller. He very much enjoyed hearing people’s stories, too. Hopefully, you had a chance to share some thoughts or reflections about Ed’s life that stand out in your memory today. As I have reflected for the past few weeks about Ed’s influence on my life as a Brother, I realized that there were so many stories and memories, dating back to 1977 when he arrived at Hudson Catholic in Jersey City as the Academic Vice-Principal when I was a young Brother in my second year as a teacher. My thoughts have coalesced around four themes about Ed’s life, and I share them as a small insight about how his life was always a gift and a blessing.
First, Ed Sheehy was Navy through and through. He regaled us often with stories of the many moves he made and the many schools he attended as a child because he was the son of a Navy officer whose assignments took the family far and wide. I think that one of Ed’s greatest disappointments in life was the fact that his poor eyesight kept him out of the Naval Academy, so that he could not follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Naval Officer. Ed beamed with pride that one of his nieces was a Naval Academy graduate, and he was able to attend her graduation and commissioning into the Marine Corps. Although Ed himself was never enlisted in the Navy, the influence of the Navy in everything he did cannot be missed. His dedication to service was deeply ingrained into his very bones. He often reminded us that it was the Navy at sea that kept us safe 24-7, a tribute to the watchful vigilance of this branch of the service. Vigilance is also one of those words that St. John Baptist de La Salle, the Founder of the Brothers, used frequently to describe the spirit of Zeal that we Brothers were to bring to our ministry. Is there a connection between Navy readiness and Lasallian vigilance? In Ed there was. He kept a careful, concerned watch over students, colleagues and confreres. Ed’s loyalty to all thing Navy helped to define his scholarship, both in his dissertation about the US Navy after WWII, his ongoing research about Naval history, his recent work about the US Navy in Iceland (and Ed was so intense about that scholarship that he was actually teaching himself Icelandic in order to read primary sources for his work): scholarly devotion that he was still pursuing with enthusiasm through this past summer. Ed was a loyal Navy Man.
The second theme that Ed inevitably embodied was that of Brother Ed Sheehy, Sports Legend. While some might scoff at this distinction, especially those who are familiar with the stories about how well Ed could line the baseball field in high school in Cumberland. Ed always reminded us that he was the MVP of the infamous Elkins Park Scholasticate Turkey Bowl of 1967. In his younger and healthier years, Ed was a willing player on faculty vs. seniors basketball games, usually aided and abetted by his good friend, Brother David Baginski. But the real Ed Sheehy Sports Legend was forged by his years as the chaplain/moderator of La Salle University’s Men’s Basketball Program. Concurrent with the thirty or so years that Ed traveled with the team, offering prayers and reflections to them before and after the games, being a good, non-judgmental listener to many coaches and assistants, Ed also served in the same capacity for the second edition of La Salle University Varsity Football for its entire revival. These selfless years of service were commemorated with a Brother Ed bobble head, now a collector’s item. Ed was especially proud of his association with Men’s Basketball during the 2013 Sweet Sixteen season, during which Ed’s services to the program were written up in the New York Times. Many of you may also remember that extraordinary photograph, used for La Salle recruitment, of Ed jumping above the rim to register a slam dunk. But the real slam dunk was Ed himself, whose service to sports teams was really about his devotion to the young athletes whose lives made a deep impression on Ed as many of them dealt with difficult personal circumstances. Ed believed that athletics provided them an opportunity for advancement, a chance to hone life skills, and a means to an education. In his dedication to the service of these athletes, Ed was a Sports Legend.
The third aspect of Ed’s life to consider was Brother Ed Sheehy the Teacher. We Brothers appreciate the profound mystery of the classroom. When young Ed Sheehy found himself as a sophomore in high school relocated from Gonzaga Prep in Washington DC to the very different experience of the old La Salle High School in Cumberland, Maryland in 1960, that profound mystery took hold. Ed was encouraged (even if he did not end up as one of the four Senior Standouts of the Class of 1963, as he often reminded us) to expand his horizons to become involved in speech activities, where he excelled, and to become the team manager of most of the sports teams. All the while Ed continued to be an outstanding student, who, according to our own Brother Gerry Molyneaux who taught Ed several times in Cumberland, was so bright that he always ruined the grading curve. This “La Salle” connection was so strong, that young Ed actually stayed in Cumberland for his senior year, when the family moved onto Wilmington Delaware. The La Salle connection reflected an even more mystical movement when Ed, at age 17, finished high school and decided to try his vocation as a Brother of the Christian Schools. Good schools thrive with good teachers. Ed was always a gifted teacher, from his earliest days at Calvert Hall in Baltimore, and at St. John’s in Washington, DC. As often happens, good teachers get moved into administrative roles, as Ed experienced when he spent six years as the Vice-Principal of Hudson Catholic in Jersey City and then five years as the principal of Central Catholic in Pittsburgh. However, in spite of the fact that Ed was a proficient and gifted administrator, he knew his heart was always in the classroom. Teaching was his gift. He was delighted to resume his career as a professor here at La Salle University in 1988, where his doctorate in history from George Washington University could be put to the test of University learners and the chance for continuing scholarship. As teacher, Ed was outstanding, as he was acknowledged quickly by his peers here at La Salle with the Lindback Award for teaching. One need only look at the testimonials that have poured in on social media in the last few weeks about Ed’s influence as a teacher, including accolades like “he was the best teacher I ever had,” or “I majored in history because of him,” or “the greatest of all time.” Ed took his teaching very seriously. His classroom was always a lively, engaging place, with Ed as the bundle of energy and fun that sustained its vitality. The other side of his teaching was his careful attention to preparation, the intensity that he brought to reading papers and exams, and the reflection time he took before he ever submitted a grade. Ed was always concerned that he would be fair and thorough in his evaluations of his students. Ed Sheehy was synonymous with teaching excellence. Even in this past semester, when his rapidly deteriorating health sapped him of his strength, his students reported that he remained the same animated, funny, engaging teacher that they counted on. What energies he had, he saved for the classroom, until his health could no longer sustain the effort. He answered the call as long as he could. Ed Sheehy delighted in being a Teacher.
Finally, no reflection on the life of Ed Sheehy could be complete without acknowledging that his greatest gift may have been Ed Sheehy as Brother. Ed came by that role quite naturally. As the oldest of Ed and Rosemary Sheehy’s ten children, quite a full crew, Ed was always the older Brother in the family. He dearly loved and was devoted to his family. He enjoyed the annual treks to join his brothers at various cities, although he was probably the first one asleep every night. He was so proud of his sisters, often telling us Brothers about their many accomplishments. He beamed with pride about his many nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and had a special love for the uniqueness of each of them. That intense devotion to family, forged in his role as elder Brother, flowed easily to his life as a Brother of the Christian Schools. Ed took seriously the directives of the Rule of the Brothers that we be Brothers to one another and older Brothers to the young people entrusted to our care. He made the community his home, was constant in prayer, and a lively confrere in our social interactions. In class, Ed made it a custom not only to remind his students (always before the bell rang, even though we don’t have bells at the University) who the saint of the day was and why that honored holy person might have some virtue worth emulating. Brothers share what matters to them. Ed was thoroughly comfortable being Brother, and with that gift, he enriched all our lives.
So, we gather today to pray for Ed’s happy repose, knowing full well that our Brother has done his duty like every good sailor, kept his watch faithfully to the last moment, run the race to the end like the sports legend that he was, modeled being the teacher whose talents were shared with generosity and good humor, and was our devoted, caring, and lively Brother to his core. We will miss him May he rest in God’s loving presence forever, and may we all one day be joined together in that embrace. We thank God for the gift of Ed Sheehy in our lives.
Live Jesus, in our hearts! Forever!
May Ed’s soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
Friday, 6 January 2023
Visitation – 1.00pm to 4.45pm
Funeral Mass – 5.00pm
La Salle University
De La Salle Chapel
1900 West Olney Avenue
Philadelphia PA 19141
Saturday, 7 January 2023
Rite of Committal & Final Commendation – 11.30am
La Salle Hall Chapel
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville MD 20705
De La Salle Cemetery
6001 Ammendale Road
Beltsville MD 20705
Brother Edward died peacefully on Thursday morning after a brief respite in hospice care.
The District of Eastern North America remembers Brother Edward with memorial liturgies
according to the tradition of the Institute. Through their prayers, communities and individuals
entrust Brother Edward to God’s loving care.
May he rest in peace.
Elkins Park PA
La Salle College (scholasticate)
Calvert Hall College High School
Saint John’s College High School
Jersey City NJ
Hudson Catholic High School
Central Catholic High School
La Salle University