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SHEEHY, Maurice S.

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"Father Maurice Sheehy," The CUA University Photographic Collection, The American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, The Catholic University of America, Washington. D.C.. Please do not reproduce without permission from CUA Archives.

SHEEHY, Maurice S. (Rev. Msgr.). (Irwin, IL, Apr. 26, 1898--Dubuque, IA, Feb. 10, 1972). Ordained in 1922, Rev. Sheehy read his first Mass in St. Joseph's Church in New Hampton, Iowa on June 13, 1922. (1)

Sheehy attended ST. JOSEPH ACADEMY and Columbia (LORAS COLLEGE). In 1917 while attending college, Sheehy was the "sporting editor" and published a magazine featuring photographs of football teams going back to 1907 when the game was first played at the school. The popularity of the publication led it to be placed on sale at the Standard Office Supply Company, Fitzpatrick's book store, Fitzpatrick's billiard room and two newspaper stands. (2) He also reported college sports news for the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald. (3) This was done at the same time as he served in the Reserve Officers Training Corps with the rank of first lieutenant in Company A. (4)

From 1922 to 1927 he taught at Loras. In 1924 he was unanimously re-elected secretary of the Western Interstate Athletic Conference. (5) In 1936 Sheehy gave the funeral service for Senator Richard Louis MURPHY.

Chaplain Sheehy and Bishop James H. Ryan were commissioned by the State Department in 1937 to report on Nazi infiltration in South America. (6)

In 1938 Sheehy was commissioned a lieutenant commanded in the Naval Reserve and stationed for active duty at the Norfolk Navy Yard. He was then stationed at the U. S. Naval Station in Jacksonville, Florida. During an assignment at Fort Sheridan near Chicago, Sheehy, a former Knights of Columbus secretary, suggested the construction of a K. C. building. In this location, K. C. representatives distributed free chocolates and cigarettes to troops and presented movies for the troops' entertainment. (7)

A foe of isolation, he twice made nationwide radio broadcasts supporting the national defense program. The first speech entitled "Fence Sitters" was delivered on February 8, 1941. On August 9, 1941 he again spoke over the Columbia Broadcasting System with an addressed entitled "Tolerance and National Defense." (8)

Sheehy compiled a record of thirty-three months service in the Pacific during WORLD WAR II as the district chaplain for the United States Navy. He received the Bronze Star and six battle stars.

In 1947 Sheehy was the head of the religion department at the Catholic University of America and a captain in the U. S. Naval Reserve. (9) He was named rear admiral in 1954 and promoted to vice admiral upon his retirement in 1958. This was the highest rank ever accorded to a naval chaplain.

The recipient of a Papal appointment as a Prothonotary Apostolic, the highest station awarded a monsignor, Sheehy wrote eight books including The Priestly Heart and Six O’clock Mass. He served thirty years with the Catholic University of America, seventeen of which were spent as Head of the Department of Religious Education.

On August 8, 1957 Sheehy became pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He taught daily in Immaculate Conception High School and served as Head of the Department of Religion at Mt. Mercy College. His chief concern was increasing the practice of Frequent Communion.

In June 1967 the fourth annual John F. Kennedy Award was conferred on Rt. Rev. Msgr. Sheehy, retired vice-admiral of the U. S. Navy Reserve at the Loras College Commencement activities. Although retired, Msgr. Sheehy had recently served on a seven-member Civilian Advisory Panel on Military Procurement led by Gen. Mark Clark. (10)

In 1980 the Chaplain Schmitt Park Committee saw their dream realized when the city council renamed CITY ISLAND in honor of Chaplain Aloysius SCHMITT. The committee had also worked to have the road on the island named in honor of Msgr. Sheehy. This the council also approved with the road being named Admiral Sheehy Drive. (11)

Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding

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Source:

1. "Rev. Sheehy Reads First Mass," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, June 13, 1922, p. 27,

2. "Review of Football at Dubuque College," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 12, 1917, p. 9

3. Sheehy, Maurice. "Nebraska Champs to Play Dubuque," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, February 6, 1917, p. 15

4. "Dubuque College Cadets Rated High," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, April 29, 1917, p. 12

5. "Interstate Track Meet Here May 16," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, December 14, 1924, p. 26

6. "Loras Grad Captain in Navy," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, July 13, 1944, p. 15

7. Ward, Archie. "Ward Interviews Invalid Troops," Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, January 7, 1917, p. 5

8. "Loras Grad..."

9. "Sheehy Gets JFK Award..."

10. Ibid.

11. "Freund, Bob. "City Island to be Renamed Schmitt," Telegraph Herald, March 25, 1980, p. 13