DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. — Philip O’Shea, OFM, 88, a professed Franciscan friar for 46 years and a priest for 44, died on Nov. 16 at St. Cabrini Nursing Home where he had lived since March.
A Memorial Mass for Philip was celebrated at 10 a.m. on Nov. 30 at St. Anthony Church in Butler, N.J. Provincial Minister Kevin Mullen, OFM, presided.
Philip was born on April 19, 1931 in Malden, Massachusetts, to Robert and Lilia (née Hardy) O’Shea and was baptized Robert Stephen.
He graduated from Malden Catholic High School in 1949 and went on to The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1953 and a doctorate in philosophy in 1956. He also earned master’s degrees in Orthodox Christian studies from Fordham University’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center and in divinity from St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers, New York.
Before joining the Order of Friars Minor, Philip spent two decades as a college professor, teaching philosophy at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, at Emmanuel College in Massachusetts, and then at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, where he also served as chair of the Department of Philosophy.
Philip began his religious life with the Custody of Our Lady of the Angels, a unit of the Order of Friars Minor which ministered to Eastern Rite Catholics, headquartered at Holy Protection Friary in New Canaan, Connecticut. He was received into the Order there on June 1, 1971, and professed first vows at Holy Dormition Byzantine Franciscan Friary in Sybertsville, Pennsylvania, on Feb. 5, 1973.
He then studied theology in New Canaan and at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. After professing his final vows on Aug. 15, 1975, he was ordained to the priesthood on Aug. 29, 1975, by Archbishop Michael Dudick in New Canaan, Connecticut.
His first assignment after ordination was back at Sacred Heart University, where Philip again served as a professor of philosophy. He was stationed there until 1978 when he moved to Western New York, joining the faculty of St. Bonaventure University in Allegany. Meanwhile, Philip initiated a transfer from the Custody of Our Lady of the Angels to Holy Name Province in 1984, officially becoming a permanent member of the Province in August 1986.
He then spent one year, from 1984 to 1985, at St. Stephen’s Parish on New York City’s Upper East Side. From 1985 to 1988, he was assigned as spiritual director at Christ the King Seminary in East Aurora, New York, where he also taught philosophy courses.
Between 1988 and 1993, Philip was stationed in two New Jersey parishes – Rochelle Park and East Rutherford – before moving to Massachusetts, where he established the New England region of the Province’s Ministry of the Word. He lived in Brookline, Natick, and Boston, Massachusetts, from 1993 until 2015, when he retired.
Philip was assigned to Holy Name Friary, the Province’s skilled care facility in Ringwood, N.J., in July 2015, and in March of this year, he moved to St. Cabrini Nursing Home.
He is survived by two cousins — Mary Ann Hirschhorn of Woburn, Massachusetts, and Heather O’Shea of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
Memorial donations may be sent to Franciscan Friars – Holy Name Province, 144 West 32nd Street, New York, NY 10001-3202.
— Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.
Editor’s note: In recent years, Philip submitted reflections for HNP Today. Among the more recent were “Moving On: Reflection by a Ringwood Resident”and “Ringwood Resident Reflects on Snowy Lent.”
- “Retiree Philip O’Shea at Home in Ministry at House of Prayer” – Sept. 26, 2018, HNP Today
- “Ministry of the Word: Into the Future with Holy Name’s Tradition” – Dec. 18, 2017, HNP Today
- “Ringwood Resident Reflects on Patience” – Feb. 10, 2016, HNP Today
- “Friar Who Donated Body to Science to be Honored by Med Students” – April 29, 2015, HNP Today