Rev. John Gerrard ShanleyFebruary 28, 1935 ~ April 21, 2017 (age 82)
REVEREND JOHN GERARRD "GERRY" SHANLEY, SS.CC.
1935 – 2017
Reverend John Gerard "Gerry" Shanley, ss.cc., a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts – United States Province, passed away on Friday evening, April 21, 2017, in Harlingen, Texas, after a courageous battle with cancer. Gerry, who celebrated his 82nd birthday on February 28th, was born on Thursday, February 28, 1935. He had retired in the last few years and was residing at Queen of Peace Parish in Harlingen, Texas.
Born in Roscommon, Ireland, to Bernard and Kate (Regan) Shanley, he entered the novitiate of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts in Cootehill, Co. Cavan, Ireland in August 1954. Professing his first vows on August 15, 1955, in Ireland, he was ordained a priest on June 25, 1961.
His first assignment in the Province was at Bishop Amat High School in California which was followed by appointments in the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and Massachusetts, and included a period as Socius (assistant novice master) back in the Sacred Hearts Novitiate in Ireland. In 1970, his responsibilities brought him to the state of Texas where his service to the people there continued for almost 50 years.
From 1970 to 2000, Gerry ministered to the people of Our Lady Queen of Angels in La Joya; Sacred Heart in Edinburg; Queen of Peace in Harlingen; and St. Anne’s in Pharr. Then in 2001, he requested and received permission from his Province to bring the love and word of the Lord to the people in Reynosa, Mexico, a place of poverty, corruption, extreme danger – and a place filled with people he came to love so deeply – and who loved him in return.
As pastor of San Felipe de Jesus Parish, he helped the parishioners build three new churches and schools. He provided them with food, clothing and sometimes shelter, and became their protector as best he could in the midst of an area so deep in need. Each week Gerry would make the journey back across the border into the U.S. to pick up whatever donations he could manage to solicit from stores, churches – anyone who would help. At times, he reported providing essentials for up to 400 families a week as well as offering supplies to two orphanages and a children’s “Tutelar”, a “kind of prison” where children from 8 to 18 were housed for a variety of reasons.
When he finally reached the “age of retirement” for the Diocese of Matamoros, Gerry had to leave a people whom he had come to love and understand, and a place that truly became a very special home for him. In his own words, expressed in an interview in 2003, he reflected, “In life’s journey you see how selfish people can get. But you also see their grandeur and the nobleness that is possible and found in the most difficult situations, finding God-who-is-love in very unexpected places.”
Visitation for Reverend Gerry will be held today, Tuesday, April 25, 2017 from 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM with a Holy Rosary to be prayed at 7:00 PM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, 501 East Kuhn Street in Edinburg, Texas. A celebration of his life and death will take place on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10:00 AM at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. Most Reverend Daniel E. Flores, Bishop of Brownsville, will preside, joined by Brothers of Gerry’s US Province, including his sibling, Reverend Matthias Shanley, ss.cc. and Reverend M. Kumar Nayak, ss.cc. Reverend Gerry is also survived by his siblings; Sister Monica Shanley, P.J. Shanley, Ethna Shanley, Pauline Shanley, and Fidelma Shanley. Following the funeral, Gerry’s remains will return to Fairhaven, Massachusetts where he will be buried in the Sacred Hearts Cemetery there at a later date. Local funeral arrangements were entrusted to Johnny Garcia, Manager/Funeral Director and staff of Ceballos-Diaz Funeral Home in Edinburg.