Rev. John T. ‘Jack’ Shirley, O.S.A. (1933 - 2009)

Rev. John T. “Jack” Shirley, O.S.A. entered eternal life on November 27, 2009, after a four-month struggle with cancer.

John Thomas Shirley was born on April 16, 1933 in Chicago, Illinois to Thomas J. and Grace C. Shirley. He was baptized on May 7, 1933 at Our Lady of Solace Church, Chicago. He received the Sacrament of Confirmation on September 30, 1945 at the same church.

For his elementary education, Jack attended 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 then 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.

On February 2, 1957, Jack was received into the Augustinian Novitiate. He professed simple (temporary) vows in the Order of St. Augustine on February 3, 1958 and solemn (permanent) vows on February 3, 1961.

Following his first profession of vows in 1958, Jack began collegiate studies at Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania. When Tolentine College, Olympia Fields, Illinois, opened in the Fall of 1958 as an extension of Villanova, he continued his studies there and earned a B.A. in Philosophy in 1961. For two years, Jack pursued theological studies at Augustinian Academy, St. Louis, Missouri, and then he completed the final two years at Tolentine College, Olympia Fields. He was ordained a priest on February 6, 1965.

Father Shirley was assigned to teach at Austin Catholic High School, Detroit, in 1965. 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.  He then worked as Director of Alcoholism Therapy at Metro West Hospital from 1973 to 1976. After this, he was Director of Therapy at Sobriety House in 1976 and 1977.

Father Shirley was assigned in 1977 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.

In 1995, Father Shirley was appointed Associate Pastor of St. Rita Parish, Racine, Wisconsin. 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 surgery was postponed after 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.

Father Shirley is buried in the Augustinian plot at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, Alsip, Illinois.

Memorial gifts may be made to Province of Our Mother of Good Counsel, 5401 S. Cornell Ave., Chicago, IL 60615-5664, or via our Online Giving Page.