Sheedy traveling with God
SOLON– Father Tim Sheedy’s experiences with the Catholic Church have taken him all across the globe. He’s seen the House of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus, Turkey. He’s visited the Holy Land in Israel three times. He even studied for three months in the Vatican. But none of these wonders compared to his visits to a small town with a population of just over 4,000.
Medjugorje in Bosnia and Herzegovina is not officially recognized by the Catholic Church as a holy site, but there have been reports of the Virgin Mary appearing for over 30 years. Sheedy has been to town three different times, and each time the same feeling of reverence comes over him.
“If you’ve ever been to a place of awe and wonder, that’s how I would describe Medjugorje,” Sheedy said. “It truly makes you feel as though you’re walking on holy ground.”
Now, Sheedy brings his worldly experiences to St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 1749 Racine Ave. NE, in Solon. Previously, his 38 years with the church had taken him all around eastern Iowa, with much of his time spent in the Quad Cities area.
After Father Jim Vrba was called to serve in Bettendorf, Sheedy learned of the open position in Solon and jumped at the chance to move to a smaller community. He spoke to the bishop of the Diocese of Davenport, the Most Rev. Martin Amos, and moved to Solon July 1.
“It was the right time for me to move. I felt that God opened up this parish [for me],” Sheedy said.
Sheedy will officially be installed as St. Mary’s new parish priest at the 5 p.m. service on Saturday, Aug. 16.
Father Sheedy’s background includes theology, counseling, education and administration. Previously, Sheedy had served as principal for several Catholic schools in Davenport, Bettendorf and Burlington.
He hopes to bring those experiences to Solon and truly believes that the Catholic Church has a great responsibility in youth education.
“I love working with children and being involved in their activities. I’m really looking forward to meeting with the education administration,” Sheedy said. “Our children are the future of Solon. We need to prepare them for a world they can survive in.”
Perhaps some of this emphasis on youth education comes from Sheedy’s own childhood. Growing up the eldest son of eight children in Ottumwa, Sheedy always felt the steady presence of God and the church, living a life nourished by prayer.
His education consisted of attending the community’s Catholic school system, St. Mary’s and later Walsh High School, where he felt early on that he was supposed to live a life dedicated to others. Often, he would leave the playground during recess at St. Mary’s because he felt a calling to pray in the church.
That’s not to say that Sheedy hasn’t dealt with a few doubts and fears during his journey. After high school, he applied to St. Ambrose University in Davenport, not knowing exactly what path in life he was supposed to take.
“I thought, ‘oh no, I’m not smart enough, I’m not holy enough.’ But I had to go find out what I was supposed to do,” Sheedy said.
He was accepted to the university, where he studied for four years, and later attended Catholic University Theological College in Washington, D.C., for his major seminary.
His faith was solidified when he was finally ordained on June 12, 1976, in the very church he had prayed in as a child.
“Being ordained at St. Mary’s [in Ottumwa]… felt like God was letting me know that’s what I’m supposed to be doing.”
Though he’s only been in Solon for a few short weeks, Sheedy is anxious to meet with the surrounding ministers in the community and get more involved in outreach activities.
Those who have worked with Sheedy at St. Mary’s are already looking forward to the great things he plans on bringing to Solon.
“He has such joy of the priesthood,” Julie Agnes, the church’s Faith Formation Coordinator said. “He really wants to bring families closer to Christ.”
The two are currently working together on building the church’s formation ministry, where they hope to give families more tools to strengthen their relationships with each other and prayer.
So far, Sheedy has been working on simply trying to ingrain himself in his new community. He had his first official public event during Solon Beef Days, where he had the honor of selecting the winning ticket for the car raffle. And though the pace of life different from his previous experiences in the Quad Cities, he’s enjoyed the perks of small town living, be it a shorter commute to church or being able to get to know residents more quickly.
“Everyone’s very active. Everyone works hard for the community,” Sheedy said. “That’s what we are at St. Mary’s. We really want to be open to the community. We want to share opportunities and what we have as much as possible.”