Rev. John T. “Jack” Shirley, O.S.A. entered eternal life November 27, 2009, after a four-month struggle with cancer.
John Thomas Shirley was born April 16, 1933, in Chicago, Illinois, to Thomas J. and Grace C. Shirley. He was baptized May 7, 1933, at Our Lady of Solace Church, Chicago. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation September 30, 1945, at the same church.
Jack received his elementary education at Our Lady of Solace School, Chicago. He did his secondary studies at St. Rita High School, Chicago, where he earned his high school diploma in 1951. He served in the United States Air Force from 1953 to 1956. After being honorably discharged form military service, he entered the Augustinian program of formation at St. Augustine Seminary, Holland, Michigan, where he did a semester of post-graduate studies in 1956 and 1957.
He was received into the Augustinian Novitiate February 2, 1957. He professed simple (temporary) vows in the Order of St. Augustine on February 3, 1958, and solemn (permanent) vows February 3, 1961.
Following profession of vows in 1958, he began collegiate studies at Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania. When Tolentine College, Olympia Fields, Illinois, opened in the Fall of 1958 as a extension of Villanova, he continued his studies there, earning a B.A. in Philosophy in 1961. He then pursued theological studies at Augustinian Academy, St. Louis, Missouri for two years. He completed the final two years of theological studies at Tolentine College, Olympia Fields. He was ordained a Priest February 6, 1965.
Father Shirley was assigned in 1965 to Austin Catholic High School, Detroit, as a teacher. While remaining a member of the Augustinian community at Austin, he worked as an Intake Counselor at Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Center in 1971 and 1972. From 1973 to 1976 he was Director of Alcoholism Therapy at Metro West Hospital. He was Director of Therapy at Sobriety House in 1976 and 1977.
In 1977 Father Shirley was assigned to the Augustinian Mission Band, which was headquartered at St. Rita Monastery, Chicago. He relocated in 1993 to St. Clare of Montefalco Parish, Chicago, and continued his ministry with the Mission Band. The Mission Band directed spiritual retreats and preached parish missions throughout the United States.
He was appointed Associate Pastor of St. Rita Parish, Racine, Wisconsin, in 1995. He served in that position until March, 2008, when he was assigned to St. Nicholas of Tolentine Monastery, Olympia Fields, Illinois.
Doctors discovered a massive tumor in Father Shirley’s right thigh in August, 2009. He was given radiation treatments in preparation for surgery, but the cancer was found to have spread to one of his lungs. He received chemotherapy to combat the lung cancer, but did not respond to these treatments. Throughout his illness, his attitude was positive, peaceful and accepting.
A recovering alcoholic, Father Shirley was active in Alcoholics Anonymous and a regular participant in the Guest House Alumni. He is the author of Spiritual Reflections for the Recovering Alcoholic (Alba House, 1985) and Spiritual Recipes for Achieving Peace and Joy (self-published, 1997). He was energetic in sharing with others his knowledge, experience and beliefs, especially concerning alcoholism and the importance of forgiving others as a key to one’s own peace.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Tuesday, December 1, 2009, at 7 p.m. at St. Rita Catholic Church, 4339 Douglas Ave., Racine. Relatives and friends may meet with the family Tuesday at the church from 3 p.m. until time of Mass at 7 p.m. Interment will be held Wednesday, December 2, 2009, at noon at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery, 6001 W. 111th Street, Alsip, IL. In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts to Augustinian Guild, 20300 Governors Hwy., Olympia Fields, IL 60461-1011, or via Augustinian Guild Secure On-line Giving will be appreciated.
MARESH-MEREDITH & ACKLAM FUNERAL HOME
803 Main St., Racine (262) 634-7888