1923 – 2006 (November 25)
Thomas Joseph Shea, was born on July 8, 1923, in Philadelphia, PA, the son of Thomas J. Shea and Catherine C. Murphy. He had two sisters, Regina and Catherine. He was baptized on July 22, 1923 at St. Monica Church, Philadelphia, and attended St. Barnabas Parochial School, and West Catholic High School. Following graduation in 1941, he entered Philadelphia’s St. Charles Seminary, and graduated from the collegiate level in 1945 with an AB in Philosophy. He continued there, beginning his studies of Theology, but in 1948, his third year of theological studies, he left St. Charles, and with the help of Joseph M. Dougherty, OSA he entered the Order, beginning as a novice at Good Counsel Novitiate, New Hamburg, NY, on September 15, 1948. He professed simple vows on September 16, 1949 and solemn vows on January 16, 1952. He completed his theological studies at Augustinian College, Washington, DC, and was ordained to the priesthood on February 9, 1952, by Bishop John M. McNamara in the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC. He also completed an MA in Classical Languages at Villanova College in 1952.
Father Shea was assigned briefly, in 1952, to Our Mother of Consolation Parish, Chestnut Hill, PA. He was transferred to the community at Archbishop Carroll High School, Washington, DC, where he taught from 1952 to 1954. In 1954 he was assigned to Archbishop Prendergast High School, Drexel Hill, PA, where from 1954 to 1963 he was teacher, Prefect of Discipline, Prefect of Studies, and Vice Principal. In 1963 he was assigned to Augustinian Academy, Staten Island, NY, as Vice Rector of Postulants. From 1965 to 1971 and again in 1972 and 1973, he taught at Malvern Preparatory School, Malvern, PA. From 1971 to 1981 he served in parishes of the Province at St. Nicholas of Tolentine, Atlantic City, NJ, (1971-1972); St. Thomas of Villanova, Rosemont, PA, (1973-1974); Our Mother of Good Counsel, Bryn Mawr, PA, (1974-1975); Our Mother of Consolation, Chestnut Hill, PA, (1975-1977); St. Genevieve, Flourtown, PA, (1977-1981). From 1981 to 1988 he resided at St. Joseph's Friary, Drexel Hill, PA, and worked as chaplain at Mercy Vocational High School, Philadelphia, PA. In 1988, he was transferred to St. Thomas Monastery, Villanova, and continued his ministry as chaplain at the McAuley Convent of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, Merion, PA. In 1990, he was assigned to St. Elizabeth Seton Parish, Golden Gate FL. In 1991, he returned to St. Thomas Monastery, where he remained until his death on November 25, 2006, at the age of 83. During these years at Villanova, Father Shea continued his chaplaincy work with local religious communities and was a regular confessor at the Malvern Retreat House. Like many residents of the Philadelphia area, he loved to visit the New Jersey Shore.
Father Shea was an easily approachable and affable man, understanding confessor, confidant, and advisor. He was dedicated to his religious community, his family and many friends, especially his former teachers, The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Christian Brothers. He was proud of an award he received in his later years, the Brother G. John Owens, FSC, Award, presented to him by West Catholic High School for his loyalty, dedication and service. He lived a life unencumbered by things, but rich in friendships.
Father Thomas Shea's funeral liturgy was held November 29, 2006 at St. Thomas Church, Villanova. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery, West Conshohocken, PA.